When Katy and I set out to write “Wonder Women” we were asked for a short introduction explaining why we wanted to write the book. Somehow, it fell to me to write it and I scribbled the following: “Every marketer knows the stories of Lord Lever and Steve Jobs, has probably read Al Ries & Jack Trout and Byron harp, and seen the works of Bill Bernbach and John Hegarty. What’s interesting about these ‘Masters of Marketing’ is that they are all men.”
We thought it summed up what had gone before, but even then, I knew I was being a bit economical with the truth. I had deliberately left Market Research, and in particular Qualitative Research, out If we had included it, a very strong contender to be on the role call would have been Wendy Gordon.
We did however want to include her in the book, so I contacted her and was delighted when she agreed to talk. I had the pleasure of doing the interview with a woman who had been a hero of mine. She was great; direct, honest and engaging, and a frequent user of strong language!
I loved the stories she told about how she and her partner, Colleen Ryan, overcame male prejudice when establishing The Research Business. A great example that fits with this year’s IWD theme of #Chooseto Challenge.
I was surprised to learn that she didn’t invent the now established concept of “need.states”. She explained that she first heard the idea at a conference she was attending and afterwards had tried to track down the speaker. She, with regret in her voice, said she failed. However, from then on, she espoused and promoted them but never claimed the credit for them.
They say you should never meet your heroes but in Wendy’s case ‘they’ were wrong; modest, intelligent, amusing, brave and forthright she was everything I thought she would be.
I wrote the story of the founding of The Research Business which with her approval is one of the stories in the book. I sent her my thanks then and repeat them now, and on this International Women’s Day I salute you Wendy Gordon, a true Wonder Woman.