Stopwatch Marketing should be on your nightstand

Bookphoto233 Isn’t that where we all keep the book we’re going to read next?

I think Stopwatch Marketing is the book you should read next.

Here’s my formula for the ideal business book.

  • Tell me something I either don’t know or twist something I do know, so I get it in a new way
  • Tell me stories with lots of detail (case studies) to make your theories come alive
  • Make sure those stories cover a range of industries so I can see myself/our clients in some of them
  • Teach me how to apply your theory/ideas so I can really use them

Stopwatch Marketing nails every one of my criteria and then some. 

The gist of the book is that customers all operate on their own internal stopwatch.  But each person’s stopwatch is moving at a different speed. They may all be shopping for the same product (let’s say a bottle of wine) but how they shop for that wine is based on their own motivations/situation. 

Someone grabbing a bottle of wine before a party is a very different shopper from the person who is trying to pick out the perfect bottle for a first date.

The trick is, of course, how do you recognize and capitalize on these different kinds of shoppers?

John Rosen and AnnaMaria Turano make their readers a promise on page 6 of their book.  They say:

"The promise of the book you hold in your hand is that it will show how to analyze, evaluate, and exploit the time that represents every shopper’s most important resource…to understand how to measure the length of time your customer will spend searching for your product or service…and how to make absolutely certain that your product or service is close to the front of your customer’s queue: that lineup of shopping options that gets longer for consumers every year."

The authors identify four different types of shopping personas:

  • Impatient (pressed for time)
  • Reluctant (only purchase when they have to)
  • Painstaking (researches as long as necessary to select the best)
  • Recreational (slow and leisurely)

This chart illustrates the four shopping styles and the types of products that often fall into each category.  Stopwatch_figure_21 Part of the message is that a person is not always the same kind of shopper. 

I might happily spend an hour in Barnes & Noble, browsing and enjoying the atmosphere (recreational shopper) but when I’m in Target….I want to get in and out as quickly as I can. (impatient shopper) unless of course, I am shopping for a new digital camera (painstaking).

The book goes on to illustrate how both product and service driven companies have used the insights of the shopping styles to better understand their consumers and how to target them with the right message, at the right time.

But….what most business books lack is that next step.  Teach us how to actually use this stuff.  Not Stopwatch Marketing.  The entire second half of the book is devoted to doing just that.  There are sample focus group questions, needs gap examples, customer survey samples, web analytics information, budget building suggestions and much more.

There’s lots of meat on this bone whether you’re an experienced marketer, a consultant or a business owner.  Get it on your nightstand soon.

Buy the book
Check out the authors’ blog

8 comments on “Stopwatch Marketing should be on your nightstand

  1. Shama Hyder says:


    I will definitely check out this book. A little curious-why does the author place professional services in the “reluctant” box?

  2. Manizesto says:

    I haven’t read this book myself, but there is a great deal more to customer segmentation than looking at just these behaviors. It’s true that depending on a circumstance, we all take on these four purchasing attitudes, but as marketers, we can help determine those circumstances by positioning our products and services differently. For example, using email, you can instill a sense of urgency by having an offer that is only good for 24 hours; and conversely, you could send a direct mail piece with an offer that expires in three months. If you inform your audience and provide a smooth fulfillment process, you can actually manage which persona will show up at your checkout counter.

    Would you agree?

  3. John Rosen says:


    Thanks for the review. You’re right, we worked very hard to put in the whole second half of the book to lay out the “So What’s” and “How To’s.” The jargon we used was that the first half of the book was descriptive and the second half was prescriptive.


  4. John Rosen says:


    The specific professional services we show in the Reluctant Quadrant of the matrix that Drew picked up are “Consumer Banking” and “Financial Planning and Advice.” Our work with clients in those areas indicated that that these represent info-gathering, shopping, and decision-making activities that most consumers put off (they are reluctant to even get started) as long as they possibly can. One woman in a focus group we did on financial planning said “This is the course I NEVER wanted to take in high school!” In our terminology, reluctant shopping is distinguished by fear of making a decision or of changing any decision once made. Eventually there is a triggering event (move to a new state and need a new bank account, children reach middle school and you realize that that you simply can’t put off planning for tuition payments, etc.) At that point, then, the consumer (who never wanted take this course in high school, remember) becomes anxious, just wants to get it over with, and get on with his/her life. So, the stopwatch ticks slowly for years and then, after the triggering event, ticks very rapidly.

  5. Manizesto,

    Yes and no. While I agree with you that there are tactics you can employe to give an offer a sense of urgency I also think there are some buyers you simply cannot externally motivate to change their own timetable.

    And I think the bigger question is…wouldn’t it be better to understand their timing issues and be at the right place at the right time, rather than trying to either hurry or artificially slow them down?

    It’s an interesting question, isn’t it?


  6. John,

    Well, in my mind you got the formula right. It’s useless to teach someone something and not help them apply it.


  7. Manizesto says:


    You are absolutely spot on. Having a deep understanding of a target audience’s attitudes, behaviors and motivations is by and large the best way to market to them the right way. It seems like it would be somewhat beneficial, though, to try to help people move from the Reluctant category to some other. How responsive will a consumer be if they don’t even want to be there in the first place. Couldn’t you provide standout service, great offers or low prices to help customers become more open to moving into another category?

    Also, Wal-Mart probably sees all these personas on a regular basis. I’m always reluctant to go then impatient in line. What a challenge they must have!

  8. Jon,

    Sure….if the product or category can be altered in a way that people shift their perception of the buying experience. The book used Whole Foods as an example of that kind of shift.

    Most people don’t get giddy about going to the grocery store. Once they’re there — they want in and out as quickly as possible.

    But with Whole Foods, they slow down, have a glass of wine, browse, etc. A complete shift.

    That would indeed be ideal. But perhaps not all products/categories support that.


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