“Can You: “Read The Room?”
Quick, what was the #1 selling new car in 1983?
331,179 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supremes were sold making it the #1
selling new car that year. Where is Oldsmobile now? It ended
production in 2004.
What happened? Their leadership forgot how to “Read The
In marketing, “Reading The Room” requires you to know whom
you are speaking to. You must know who your current customers are,
so your marketing speaks directly to them, while attracting new
buyers. That is a delicate balancing act.
Let’s use Oldsmobile as an example.
In 1983, most current Oldsmobile buyers were age 54 or older. They
were mostly married home owners with grown children. They were
buying sedans at a rate 4 times higher than coupes. In 1987, that
ratio had increased to 8 sedans for every coupe sold. When the
redesigned 1988 Cutlass Supreme was introduced it was only
available as a coupe. That caused Oldsmobile owners who wanted a
midsize sedan to buy elsewhere.
Then, in their attempt to attract younger buyers, they repositioned
themselves advertising that: “This is not your Father’s
Oldsmobile!” That marketing slogan alienated their older
customer base. Those two missteps, coupled with quality issues,
ended their brand in 2004. They did not “Read The Room!”
Modern day examples: “Budweiser,” “Target,” and
“Disney,” have seen greatly reduced sales because they did
not recognize their current customers. By not “Reading The
Room” they have alienated their current customers with messages
that mocked their values.
Now, professional speakers will tailor their messages based on
their audience. In tailoring your marketing, “Reading The
Room,” requires that you know both the demographics and the
psychographics of your audience.
Demographics identifies your ideal customer based on age, gender,
location, education, marital status, income, employment, and
ethnicity. For example, your ideal customer may be a woman, ages
25-54, a professional earning at least $50K, with children, having
some college education, living in a city, who has Hispanic
Psychographics includes values, hobbies, aspirations,
transportation, how they communicate, where they get their
information, how they spend their money, and how they spend their
time. In addition to the ideal customer demographics, they may be
church goers leaning slightly conservative, use text to
communicate, who get their news from CNN, spend at least $250
monthly on clothing, play tennis, who are seeking career
advancement, and own a car.
In summary, to market your product or service effectively, you must
identify your ideal customer using both demographics and
In other words, you must learn to “Read The
That is today’s Morning Minute.
Morning Minute: 9/22/23
“It Looked Good On Paper, But…”
Here are three examples:
Their plans made perfect sense.
The massive fleet secretly set out to destroy their enemy’s air and
sea power in the Pacific. The enemy’s planes and ships were all
together in port and lined up on airstrips, making it easier for
carrier aircraft to attack and destroy them.
The football coach, watching game film and reading the scouting
report, knew his opponent would first try to establish their
running game on offense. So, his game plan had his defense crowding
the line of scrimmage to stop their run game.
By buying the small software company, the big auto manufacturer
assumed that the acquisition would give them the ability to assist
their dealers to sell more vehicles.
All there examples made sense on paper. However, in war, sports,
business, and life, your opponents get a vote on how to respond.
They can, and they will, pivot to overcome and defeat your
In December 1941, the Japanese fleet decimated the ships and
aircraft of the Americans in Hawaii. Five months later, after
cracking the Japanese communication code, the Americans pivoted to
offense, winning the battle of the Coral Sea, changing the course
of World War II.
The opposing coach in the football game, assumed his rival coach
would crowd the line of scrimmage to stop his running game. He had
his team pivot, changing from a run first offense to passing on
first down. When the other coach pivoted back to defend against
their passing attack, it created an opportunity to win by reverting
back to their successful running attack.
When the big auto manufacturer bought the software company they
assumed that acquisition would increase market share. When the auto
company could not pivot to meet improving software available from
other vendors, it sold the small software firm for fraction of what
they paid for it.
My message to you is this:
any competition, be alert and flexible enough
to make small pivots, to either defeat your opponent, or take
advantage of changing opportunities.
assume that your opponent will pivot to meet your
challenge. Anticipate how they may pivot, and develop your own
plans to meet those new opportunities.
your organization lean and flexible. In a fight,
bigger is not always better.
remember, in any competition, your opponent always gets a
That’s today’s Morning Minute.