Energy Drinks of Business Advice


Many of you swear by your energy drinks, whatever your favorite brand is and whether it is for knocking out some Rails code or the pitch deck. Is there any truth in their advertising? The New York attorney general does not think so as he issued subpoenas to big and small brands about their messaging.

Let me look at some of the claims made by these elixir makers that are being called into question:

  1. Create believability with lots of colorful details – they say they boost energy with a mix of additives including B-vitamins, taurine and ginseng.
  2.  Attribute causation to these ingredients, especially the exotic sounding ones – AMP’s website, for example, says the B-vitamins and caffeine in its Boost drinks offers “the kick you need to tackle the early morning meeting.”
  3. Make sweeping general promises – “hours of energy” with “no crash later.”
  4. Understate or ignore the effect of  another “boring” ingredient – “Understating the role of caffeine, a common stimulant that industry critics believe to be the main active ingredient”
  5. Ignore lurking variables – like caffeine indirectly contained in other ingredients
  6. Position against existing alternatives even though the product delivers no incremental value –  “You’re better off drinking a cup of coffee,”

Many also swear by their favorite business advice – be it for product development, customer  loyalty or customer experience. These popular quick fix business advices are marketed not that differently than the energy drinks:

  1. Create believability with lots of colorful details – “Take the percentage of those who picked 0.05 to 6.023 and subtract that from those who picked 8.91 to 10.02”
  2. Attribute causation to these ingredients – “Evernote is successful because of their freemium model”
  3. Make sweeping general promises –“1% increase in profit will result in 10% increase in profits”
  4.  Understate or ignore the effect of  another “boring” ingredient – “Let us ignore the fact Apple went about their business more strategically, and focus on the design elements of their products”
  5. Ignore lurking variables –“Businesses that had women members in their board saw their stock outperform by 26%”
  6. Position against existing alternatives –“you don’t want to look at ROI, you want this amazing engagement metric

Too bad New York attorney general won’t go after all these management witch doctors.