Interview with New York Times Best Selling Author Andrew R. Thomas PhD
by Andrew R. Spriegel
January 24, 2010
Where did you receive your PhD?
University of Bucharest, Academy of Economic Studies, in International Business. A substantial portion of the funding was provided by the U.S. State Department under a Fulbright Scholarship.
How did you become an author?
After I left the transportation business, I wrote my first book on global business strategy. I enjoyed the process – as well as having authored – so I wrote another one; and then another, and another…
How many books have you published?
Authored, co-authored, or edited 15.
What awards have you won?
The Berry-AMA Prize for the best book in marketing for 2010 (The Distribution Trap).
In 2008, my book Direct Marketing in Action was a finalist for this same award.
In 2003, The Rise of Women Entrepreneurs: People, Processes, and Global Trends selected as Harvard Business School’s Working Knowledge Recommended Book on Entrepreneurship.
In 2002, Global Manifest Destiny: Growing Your Business in a Borderless Economy selected as Harvard Business School’s Working Knowledge Recommended Book on Global Marketing.
I am most proud that in 2006, I was selected as the Phi Eta Sigma Student’s Choice Award for Favorite Faculty Member at the University of Akron.
What is the American Marketing Association’s Berry Award?
The Berry-AMA Book Prize for the Best Book in Marketing recognizes books whose innovative ideas have had significant impact on marketing and related fields. Created by distinguished author and professor Leonard L. Berry and his wife Nancy F. Berry through generous contributions to the American Marketing Association Foundation (AMAF), the prize was awarded for the first time in Fall 2002.
Please tell me about your new book “The Distribution Trap”?
The premise is simple: too many inventions today are left in the hands of others to determine their value in the marketplace. This flawed business approach has enabled Mega distributors to rise up in every sector and control those same sectors. This has lead many innovative products and services to become commodities almost overnight.
What does it mean “marketers of innovations should control the channel themselves”?
To create something requires a huge investment in time, money, thought, sweat, and tears. It flies in the face of reason that once the invention is created, control over the sales and distribution of that invention is given over to a third party, which has no stake and very little real interest in whether it succeeds or fails. It is not logical. But it is what the management “gurus”, business professors, and other thought leaders have told inventors they must do to be successful.
I understand you are quite the world traveler.
I’ve been fortunate to have traveled and conducted business in more than 120 countries on all 7 continents.
How much do you use social networking?
Not much. I do have a LinkedIn account and a Facebook account, although I check them every few days. I prefer a personal visit or a phone call.
If you had to live your life over what would you do differently?
I have never had that question asked to me before. And, I’ve never thought about it, until now. I am totally cool with my life and everything that’s happened to me.
The success rate for inventions is estimated to be less than one half of one percent; I attribute that a high percentage of failures can be attributed to poor marketing. Would you agree?
I would. From my experience, the way an invention is marketed and sold is so often much more important than the quality of the invention itself.
Andrew R. Thomas PhD
Title: Assistant Professor of Marketing and International Business
Department: Department of Marketing
Office: CBA 321