Jon Fine, who writes about the media for BusinessWeek, has discovered one of the Marketing Masters' secrets: "intensive research that aims at wreathing a kind of grandiosity of purpose around everyday products to a degree that may seem somewhat silly to outsiders."
Forgive me for assuming that Fine is one of the outsiders, but he has enough common sense to recognize a strategy that works. He quotes the chief marketing officer of General Mills who poses the key question: "What is the bigger job this brand does in a consumer's life?" But then he reduces it to the brand's "story line."
"Marketing," he tells us, "is a business in which the best story that's most aggressively deployed wins." But that's only part of the secret. The real trick is designing products that serve a higher purpose and then making sure that everything that follows is aligned with it. That's something General Mills has mastered across its product line, from its iconic cereal brands to its yogurt and baked goods. Maybe that's why its revenue is up 8 percent and its operating profit rose 4 percent.
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