Posted BY: William Sullivan

Early in my professional career, an experienced colleague shared with me a bit of advice. 

“If you sell people what they want to buy,” he said, “you’ll have a very successful career.  If you sell people what you think they want to buy, you might still be successful.  But if you sell people what you want to sell them, you’ll fail miserably.”

It was a free lesson, learned in moments, that was proven true countlessly in nearly two decades of sales and sales management.  It is the golden rule in business, for which there are no exceptions or substitutes, and it can be summed up in three short words: know your customer.

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Yet this lesson apparently isn’t taught at The Wharton School of Finance, where Bud Light marketing VP Alissa Heinerscheid earned a Master of Business Administration degree, and where tuition and supplies alone will run you $250K for its two-year MBA program. 

Under her leadership and direction, the brand has been irreparably destroyed for the simple reason that she believed herself to have the mandate to sell the customers what she wanted to sell them rather than give them what they would want to buy.  The video captures her explaining:

So, I had this super clear mandate. It’s like we need to evolve and elevate this incredibly iconic brand.  What does evolve and elevate mean?  It means inclusivity. It means shifting the tone. It means having a campaign that’s truly inclusive and feels lighter and brighter and different.  And appeals to women and men.  And representation is sort of at the heart of evolution. I mean, Bud Light has been a brand of kind of fratty, kind of out of touch humor, and it was really important that we had another approach.

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