What is marketing ?
To this question, most people answer it’s something about famous brands and TV commercials, billboards in the street and supermarkets… More sophisitcated thinkers often relate to the 4 P’s (Product, Promotion, Price and Place) and they wrongly say that this model was brought about by a professor called Philip Kotler.
Actually, this is not a model and it was not invented by Prof. Kotler. Edmund Jerome McCarthy, an American marketing professor at Michigan State University, was the first one to mention the 4P’s in 1960 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E._Jerome_McCarthy. More than 50 years ago. A number of professionals still tell me they’re using the 4P’s anyway. It’s like driving an old Chevrolet ! It’s nice to remember but dangerous on today’s roads !
Marketing and the mass market economy
Most people associate marketing with mass markets. They’re right. Marketing techniques were developed to sell and mass distribute products of growing industries like automobiles, soap and detergents, fast moving consumer goods like food and drinks. They associate it with global brands: Coca-Cola, Mac Donalds, Apple, Nike and the others. Some mention the obscure role of multinational companies as mass marketers, selling anything to anyone as long as they’re making profits. Yes, they’re right ! MNC’s did use, develop and improve marketing techniques over the years, leading to a world dominated by brands and mass distribution. But…
Everything comes to an end
This view of marketing is about the past. Well, maybe it’s still the present…But in no case will it be the future. All our paradigms are changing. Consumers are changing. They got the power now. They decide what to buy, when to buy and where to buy based on peer references, reviews on internet and their own smarter opinion. They choose the ads they want to see and not to see. They trust few brands but they want to entertain a fruitful relationship with them. They became much more demanding and hard to satisfy.Satisfaction. Here we are ! Here we come to the heart of contemporary marketing: satisfaction !
Satisfaction and oversatisfaction
Satisfaction of customers is not a new topic. It started to be popular 20-25 years ago with the coming of repeated economic crises and the hardening of the competitive environment. Faced with less demand and more competitors, companies had to retain customers, make them happy and loyal. This happened thanks to better products, more service, smiling selling staffs and nicer places to shop. Customers became happier and happier but the more they were spoiled, the more they started to behave like spoiled kids. More demanding, keen on details, choosy ! Impatient, sulky, agressive ! Never happy, always complaining, arrogant ! So, at the end of the day, they might have what they wanted but they were not loyal anyway. That’s how the idea came of oversatisfying them.
Delight your customers ?
If you want to make kids happy, give them an unexpected gift. Take them to the ice cream parlor when they don’t ask. Let them suddenly do what is usually forbidden. Exceptionally of course. Organize a kids’party for no special occasion. Etc. Well, if you want to delight your customers, do the same ! Easy ! Give them an unexpected discount, break the company rules for them, organize a surprize event. Go over their expectations. Always ! Underpromise and overdeliver. Care for details. Remember their names. The names of their spouse and children . The place they like to go for vacation. Give them attention ! Develop a true, trustful relationship. It will pay !
Marketing is about delivering value
Why do people stay with you ? Because they find an advantage that your competition cannot offer. It can be a functional value, a financial value, an emotional value. Google is the king of functional plus financial: an answer to all questions for free ! Apple is combining functional and emotional, but it’s expensive. Disneyland is 100% emotional. Whatever the combination, if you don’t offer a superior value, you’re dead ! Marketing today is the art of creating and delivering value. Selling is the outcome, not the goal. Selling at a healthy margin is what you’re striving for. And selling at a healthy margin for years and years mean that you are a marketing master.
Marketing is not only for money
Strangely enough, marketing got out of the profit making industries to enter the non profit world. Museums, cities, hospitals, schools, NGO’s are practicing marketing today. They all need to satisfy their partners, visitors and audiences. They also want to share their vision of the world. They need to survive in the midst of hundreds of competitive alternatives. They also need loyalty. And they went digital too. When you think of all this, marketing is not so much a question of budget (new marcom tools are much cheaper to use). It’s a question of empathy, relationships and trust. It’s about setting up a creative, benevolent and open culture within organizations.
All in all, marketing today has not much to do with what most people have in mind
We, as marketing pros, should stop harassing customers and teaching young students and professionals to do so. We should promote upright and honest practices based on good faith and transparency. We should call for a triple bottom line approach https://profbaeyens.com/2016/04/07/do-you-think-about-your-triple-bottom-line/. This is not to feel good. it’s a question of performance, efficiency, results !