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The Marketing Detective: Discovering the Secrets of Small Data to Fulfill Customer Needs

Harsh fact: between 40 and 90 percent of new products fail. Thus, marketers are on a never-ending quest for something new, a breakthrough, some way to get an advantage over the competition. And that’s why marketing professionals carry the massive burden of their company’s new product success on their shoulders.

Seasoned product marketer Scott Habegger challenges our reliance on big data and reveals the power of small data—the voice of the customer. Find out what he learned in his productive marketing career, including his tenure with Harley-Davidson. By applying the truth-seeking principles of a detective, he champions the value of gaining actionable customer insights through more personal, often one-on-one customer interactions.

Whether you sell motorcycles, breakfast cereal, plumbing services, marshmallow creme, or something else, as a marketing detective—using the 15 Breakthrough Customer Insights offered here—you can uncover actionable insights that others have dismissed, misinterpreted, can’t see—or didn’t even think to ask customers.

Habegger offers engaging, real-world case studies that will help you create products and services that fulfill your customers’ needs and more effectively deliver marketing communications that resonate with customers.

The Marketing Detective: Testimonials

“In a world obsessed with big data, Scott Habegger draws on his years of marketing experience to illustrate the power of small data to inspire big ideas. The author is a first-rate storyteller who proves his point with real-world examples, then offers practical tips to help readers discover clues to solving the mysteries of marketing.”

—Keith Reinhard, Chairman Emeritus, DDB Worldwide

“If you want more power in your business, and more success in your career, The Marketing Detective unlocks clues to accomplish these in the most important way: true customer focus. A great read, colorfully told.”

—Mark-Hans Richer, Chief Marketing and Innovation Officer, Moen

The Marketing Detective is a well-written instruction manual that clearly explains how to analyze small data clues to reveal big insights about customers. Habegger makes a compelling case for how marketers have lost track of the human elements of serving their target markets due to the recent emphasis on big data and high-tech digital techniques. This book is for you if you are looking for a back-to-basics perspective on how to truly understand and serve your customers.”

—Greg Rich, PhD, Professor of Marketing, Bowling Green State University

“The book serves as a powerful reminder that every discussion, strategy, and decision should begin with the customer in mind.”

—Scott Schmidt

“As I sat down to write this review of Scott Habegger’s new book, Marketing Detective, I did a quick internet search. The term “big data” returned over 134,000,000 hits. Not quite the level of the national debt, but still a very, very large number. The premise of Habegger’s book is that big data provides a lot of numbers we can analyze and use to influence new product designs, but it is the “small data” that really matters.

In Marketing Detective, Habegger cleverly weaves stories of his experiences in marketing at Harley-Davidson with 15 tips to gather customer data for new product development. He calls these tips breakthrough customer insights (BCI). While the tips range from the obvious (get out of the office and actually watch a customer use your product) to the more obscure (don’t confuse stakeholder needs with customer needs), he backs up each tip with a real-life experience.

Most of the tips and stories are from Habegger’s 25+ years working at Harley-Davidson, but you need not be a motorcycle enthusiast to understand the marketing impacts of talking directly with customers. This is the small data – talking to individual customers, viewing problems from a customer’s perspective, and measuring improvements in their product experience.

Three portions of the book address the BCIs in looking at the marketing mindset, gathering data, and interpreting data. Each section presents five of the 15 tips while final chapters in the book summarize the tips.

As each chapter concludes, Habegger provides “clues” that illustrate symptoms of falling into a trap of developing new products without these customer insights. Then, he provides a section on “actions” to help implement the remedy of small data and customer interactions.

Overall, Marketing Detective is a quick read with interesting stories. A short section at the end of the text offers notes for further information in each chapter, though these references are not included in the chapters. Finally, an index is always helpful for books for a quick search of ideas and concepts, such as the discussion on the Kano model in Chapter 3.

I would recommend Marketing Detective by Scott Habegger as a strong reminder to any New Product Development Professional to focus on customer needs through interview and observation.”

—Teresa Jurgens-Kowal for Product Development Management Association