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John Rosen: Co-Author of Stopwatch Marketing and Executive Director at MCAworks

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Thomas Edison once said, ''There is time for everything.'' In today's busy and time-stressed world, however, many people would be quick to argue that there is not enough time for everything and that in fact it is often a struggle to get anything done. Still, according to John Rosen, an executive director with Marketing Consulting Associates (MCAworks), this typical consumer mindset, which revolves around the perpetual time crunch, is one that, while vital to marketers and all of their endeavors, is frequently overlooked.

The need to focus on time as a motivational and influential factor for all purchasing decisions is at the heart of Rosen’s book Stopwatch Marketing: Take Charge of the Time When Your Customer Decides to Buy. The book’s premise is a simple one: when consumers shop, they do so with a predetermined amount of time within which they will make their decision to buy. This time frame varies between consumers and is affected by differing circumstances — for instance, if someone is shopping after work but before a dinner date, or if someone is shopping on a Saturday afternoon.

In the book, Rosen and co-author AnnaMaria Turano argue that consumers have a figurative ticking stopwatch with them when they shop. Consequently, the job of the marketer “is to understand that ticking and to either slow it down so that they can get their message across or stop the ticking and close the sale right then and there.” Nonetheless, marketers regularly give insufficient importance to the impact that time has on purchasing decisions. As a result, the notion of time from the consumer’s perspective and the company’s perspective are drastically different.

“What does that mean for a marketer?” Rosen asks rhetorically. “From the standpoint of a marketer, it means that the traditional things you look at in your marketing strategy are less important. In other words, demographics won’t tell you whether I want to take the time to browse or whether I’m in a hurry. And it’s different on different days. Unless you know that, the marketer can’t leverage it; they can’t exploit it.”

It is important for marketers to recognize that while consumers are not necessarily in a state of time poverty, as has been argued, time should still be viewed as the real imperative, Rosen says. “We are not saying everyone is out of time. We’re saying some people have a lot of time and you can make a lot of money on them if you can find them. And you as a marketer or businesses owner have to figure out who it is you’re going to really target.”

For instance, convenience store chains such as 7-11 have capitalized on consumers who are in a hurry and want to quickly find what it is they are looking for, while grocery chains such as Whole Foods have transformed their supermarket shopping experience into theater in order to slow down their customers’ clocks.

Rosen, who studied economics, accounting, and marketing during his undergraduate years at Washington & Lee University and went on to earn an MBA from Northwestern University, worked for such well-known corporations as Coors Beer, Mattel Toys, and Simon & Shuster Books before joining Marketing Consulting Associates in 1992. The company, formerly Marketing Corporation of America, was founded nearly forty years ago with the sole mission of stimulating and increasing demand for its clients.

In his current capacity, Rosen has a dual role in which he oversees the everyday functions of the business and also maintains his own client base and practice area. Interestingly, it is the company’s primary function, to stimulate demand, which initially piqued Rosen’s interest in marketing many years ago while he was working as a youngster in the retail industry with his father and uncles. As Rosen explains, the profession itself is one of stimulating demand, “it is the process of separating people from their money.”

This is a critical yet immensely challenging task considering that what marketers are asking consumers to do is, in Rosen’s estimation, an act that can be considered unnatural. “Although they’d love to have things, [people] don’t like to buy things. They don’t reach into their pockets naturally and sprinkle dollar bills around.

“Today, it still fascinates me…how you can encourage…people to actually part with their money. I would call it good salesmanship, the notion of understanding a customer’s problems, needs, hopes, dreams, and desires, and finding a product or a service that is attuned to those needs and priced appropriately so people will part with their money for it.” And above all else, a major factor of that good salesmanship is understanding how much time consumers are willing to expend to find that product.

Ultimately then, in order to be effective and stimulate demand, marketers must accept that time plays a paramount role in all purchasing decisions. And if they realize this, they will not only create happy and loyal customers, but they will prove Thomas Edison right: there is time for everything. In fact, even in this hectic and fast-paced world, there is still time to buy.

Q. What do you do for fun?
A. Skiing and fantasy football with my teenage boys.

Q. What CD is in your CD player right now?
A. Bachman Tuner Overdrive.

Q. What is the last magazine you read?
A. The Economist.

Q. What is your favorite television show?
A. Anything on the History Channel. I fall asleep to the History Channel every night.

Q. Who is your role model?
A. Robert Noyce. He, like me, grew up in a small town in the Midwest. Like me, helped start his own company. Unlike me, he made many billions of dollars doing it. He’s the founder of Intel.

On the net:Marketing Consulting Associates
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Popular tags:

 consumers  customers  businesses  executive director  Northwestern University  sale  mindsets

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