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From Barbells to Bananas

A while back, I attended a seminar with a great array of speakers on strategy and marketing (Mark Ritson, JP Hanson, Wiemer Snijders and Rory Sutherland). That experience resulted in a blog post that got a lot of appreciation. So, I went on and extended that blog post and structured it a bit more, resulting in a booklet summarising a few interesting ideas and models on marketing.

Below is an outline of the content, if you would like a copy of the full booklet drop me an email at (avaliable in English or Swedish)

FROM BANANAS TO BARBELLS – Six models to guide you in the modern marketing Jungle lists over 50 000 books on the topic of Marketing and Sales. The top 20 books average over 300 pages each. I would venture a guess that most of these millions of pages are bought but never read.

The booklet I put together is just 30 pages. It is an attempt to keep it simple: six easy models or ideas on marketing. Most of them are borrowed. All of them are simplified.

For each chapter, there are recommendations for further reading. There is a great amount of good reading out there. This is just a quick nibble to get your appetite going.

1. Starting at the right end


The first model is about doing your research and thinking before getting to work. Studying the map before rushing out into the world.

Sounds simplistic but is often forgotten when we get caught up in day to day operations. We need to be stringent first in analyzing the market as best we can, then formulating our strategy, and finally executing our tactic measures.

The outcome of your marketing efforts becomes the multiplication of the three phases, meaning it is better to do all three at an ok level, than excelling at two and failing at a third.

2. Weighing your efforts


In this section, we explore two important things to consider when allocating marketing budgets:

  • Loyalty is generally very weak, with most product buyers buying very rarely
  • Long term emotional branding advertising and short term sales driven advertising serve different purposes, imply different strategies, and have different KPIs.

The first model illustrates how frequently the buyers of your brand actually make a purchase. Here, research finds that across almost all categories, the majority of purchases are done by people who buy very rarely. The banana serves as as a model to illustrate the shape of the diagram: Almost all volume to the left (less frequent consumers) with a much smaller longtail to the right (frequent buyers).

The second model needs no introduction, it is perhaps the most famous one in marketing today. Binet & Fields model illustrates the duality between short-term and long-term marketing efforts. The key takeout is that if you focus on KPIs that measure short term marketing (sales, clicks, ROI) your efforts will steer towards that type of marketing. In this there is a clear risk of neglecting long term brand building.

3. Consistency, consistency, consistency

What you see here is not a model per se, but it is a good illustration of the third idea in this lineup, consistency. None of the icons above include a brand name but are all instantly recognizable to the majority of consumers. This is a super relevant aspect in a cluttered media message where consumers are bombarded with messages and generally try to avoid advertising. Consistency, to establish recognition in consumers minds, is usually more important than adapting to short lived trends or making sure your advertising feels new and fresh.

4. Looking at the full cost / reward

There are plenty of models describing the amount of reach (and correspondingly media investment) you need to drive consumers from brand awareness to actual purchase. They are known as funnels, just because reach needs to be the biggest at the awareness stage at the top, and then gets narrower as communication gets more tactical and targeted further down.


As these funnels are so universally accepted, it is a common mistake to assume that their ratios apply not only to media spend, but to all costs and efforts. But the cost of content creation, tech resources etc can show different patterns. It is therefore important to not just assume that some investments are cheap because the media investment is low, but too look at all costs and resources drawn by any initiative.

5. Who calls the shots

Ambiguity of mandate and decision making in the relationship between client and agencies is present in a lot of marketing work. This is because there is no set formula for decision making and mandate. At what stages of the process does the client, the creative agency, the media agency or the performance agency have to take responsibility – and get to call the shots?

There are a couple of potential pitfalls as a consequence of this: Lack of direction, Over-analysis or flat out Paralysis

6. Putting Innovation Into perspective

As marketers are dealing with the human mind, which is subject to confirmation bias, post-rationalization and a whole host of inconsistencies, it is a mistake to let 100% of efforts be data driven. Those who do may be solving the problems of today, but not hedging against the future.

There are different models related to this. One is the Barbell model. It states that 85% of your efforts should go to low risk, low reward safe bets. 15% should be aimed at high risk high potential reward. The most important bit: Nothing in the middle. Keep your bread and butter work and your experimental efforts well separated, there should be no grey area,



A disclaimer: This is a list of six interesting ideas around marketing. It is not the list of marketing ideas. There are many others, and of course a huge amount of detail and data underpinning them. But I hope this list may be thought provoking, and get some thinking going around structure and prioritisation in the marketing process.

A very interesting and relevant thing about these models: They are not brand new, not secret or complicated. Yet, they seem very difficult to follow. This is actually a shortcut to success: If you are able to make sure you really follow at least three of the ideas listed here, you are probably doing a better job than the majority of the marketers in your industry.