Are textbooks valuable?
They encourage rote learning, are open to malignant biases, are frequently tedious and the contents are promptly forgotten about before they can be digested.
So why are they so commonly used? Simplicity? Equality? Continuation?
Personally, I find them useful. Up to a point. I wouldn’t attempt to fly an aeroplane, but I might attempt a few choice words of Cantonese with a native speaker on completion of an instruction guide.
Where do marketing textbooks fit on the scale?
I wonder because I have recently read one. This one (Marketing by Paul Baines, Chris Fill & Kelly Page), to be precise. My apologies to the folk at Research Talk for leaving it so long, but I am holding true to my word by blogging about it. I did say that it may take a while.
I studied Philosophy, Politics & Economics at university (though it turned out to be more like History & Politics) and so my knowledge of marketing is accumulated from various bits I’ve picked up on the job, through courses, magazines and blogs. However, I wished to know more and so picked up the book.
Because of the chasms in my knowledge, I have appreciated another benefit of textbooks. They offer a logical and consistent guideline to work from. Many elements sounded familiar but I had never fully considered the surrounding context and implications. There is now a degree of coherence unifying my thoughts.
Textbooks should only be the first step in learning, but they provide a base to build upon. A base where thoughts and theories can be evolved through experiences, interactions and feedback. After all, textbooks will expound the prevailing wisdom and as the old aphorism goes; “Conventional wisdom is always conventional, but rarely wisdom.” We can learn from our mistakes and progress (even if the experts are just as wrong as chimpanzees).
And as far as textbooks go, this was a very readable and well-paced example. It gave a decent introduction to topics, which while basic contained thorough references for further reading and plenty of case insights. A broad range of topics were covered and it can equally be studied for 5 minutes or 5 hours at a time.
I would suggest two additions to the book. Firstly, more competing or emerging theories where applicable; alternate theories tended to supersede rather than sit alongside. Secondly, an additional chapter on changes to communications due to the ubiquity of mobiles and computers would have been welcome, but I presume this runs the risk of fast obsolescence.
Unsurprisingly, I learned many things by reading the book – some small nuggets; other major theories. A few of my takeouts include:
- STP – segmentation, targeting and positioning
- DMAP targets – distinct, measurable, accessible and profitable (I’m a fan of using acronyms for mnemonics)
- The difference between opinion leaders and formers is that leaders ar in same social circle
- The five characteristics of service products are intangibility, inseparability, variability, perishability and non-ownership
- RATER dimensions of service quality – reliability, assurance, tangibles, empathy and reassurance
- Porter five forces analysis
- Bettman’s memorisation processes affecting consumer choice include factors affecting recognition and recall, effects of context, form of coding objects in memory, effects of processing load, effects of input and effects of repetition
- The six types of relationship are partner, advocate, supporter, client, purchaser and prospect
Now the trick is to put them into practice before they’re forgotten
Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/stephenliveshere/