Marketing ? Non, Zapketing !

Tout le monde zappe : les clients, les medias, les « marketers »

 Le marketing a été souvent considéré comme un art plutôt que comme une science. Pourtant, le marketing classique est avant tout analytique. Sur base d’une demande issue de besoins et d’envies plus ou moins « fabriquées » et, à tout le moins, entretenues, les entreprises créent, conçoivent et diffusent des produits ou services qui apportent une (vraie ?) valeur, rationnelle ou émotionnelle. En satisfaisant ces besoins, ces mêmes entreprises espèrent fidéliser leurs clients, gage de leur profit et, par là, de leur pérennité. Ces paradigmes ont soutenu les concepts de marketing pendant plus d’une génération mais tout cela, c’est du passé !

Aujourd’hui, tout le monde « zappe » ! Et d’abord, bien sûr, les clients mais aussi les medias qui sautent d’un thème à l’autre dans un climat de pensée unique et les « marketers » eux-mêmes qui passent sans cesse d’une entreprise à l’autre, d’un produit à l’autre, d’une campagne à l’autre…

Nous sommes tous des clients impatients, exigeants et sans pitié

Les constats que nous, universitaires, dressons lorsque nous écoutons les professionnels sont clairs. Les clients, consommateurs privés ou acheteurs professionnels n’ont plus de patience. Nous sommes dans l’univers du « tout, tout de suite ». Les demandes sont des « hyper-demandes » et les besoins émotionnels priment sur le rationnel. Nous sommes tous des clients et lorsque nous ne sommes pas satisfaits, pas de problème, nous n’avons qu’à changer de fournisseur, comme on change de chaîne, parfois juste pour voir, rien qu’une fois…et puis tout le temps, par réflexe…

Le web est là pour nous aider. Il fait maintenant le travail pour nous. Un vrai robot à comparer les offres, les prix, les formules ! Et pourtant, nous sommes saturés d’information… Donc, on ne va plus à fond, on jette un œil, on se fait une opinion, et surtout…on se base sur l’avis des autres (les proches, les amis, les collègues…). De toute façon, on a trop de tout : trop de produits, trop de pub, trop de marques, trop d’info…c’est too much !

Et le marketing dans tout cela ?

 Oublions le passé, c’est le marketing du futur qui nous intéresse ! Mon collègue allemand Christian Bluemelhuber, l’a souvent développé dans ses communications : “Kotler est mort” ! Le marketing de Kotler s’entend. Il a raison ! Nous sommes entrés dans l’ère du Zapketing. Il n’y a plus de marchés, il n’y a plus que des zappeurs. Donc, il faut tout changer !

D’abord les études de marché. Changeons les études : elles sont longues, coûteuses et restent abstraites. Le temps qu’elles soient réalisées, tout a déjà changé. Allons vers le « zapsearch » : une immersion dans le monde des clients, un bain d’humilité, un choc de culture ! Le développement des produits doit résulter d’un bouillonnement permanent d’innovation. Plus le temps de tester, il faut tenter, lancer, récupérer, risquer ! Et parlons au cœur plutôt qu’à la raison. Les marques et les offres doivent être SPICE : S-Sexy, P-pleines de Personnalité, I-Intelligentes, C-orientées Client, E-Emotionnelles. Ne parlons plus de pub, parlons confiance et réputation. Et soyons réalistes, aujourd’hui, les produits sont comme des personnes, on ne reste ensemble que si on y trouve du plaisir ou de l’intérêt !

La plupart des entreprises sont encore inconscientes de la profondeur des changements que nous vivons. Elles pratiquent des changements anecdotiques au lieu de songer à des méta-changements. Si elles ne s’adaptent pas radicalement aux nouveaux systèmes qui se mettent en place, c’est le darwinisme économique qui fera le boulot. Vous, professionnels, devez vous secouer avant que le marché s’en charge…  Le marché ? Vous avez dit “marché” ? Non, c’est vrai, le marché, ça n’existe plus !

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Stop thinking that marketing means selling !

I am regularly upset when I hear a number of people talking about marketing as being, at best, a set of techniques aimed at selling as most stuff as possible or, at worst, as some kind of manipulative approach aimed at making as much money as possible. Each time, I need to explain  what a real marketing process is in this new century of creativity and innovation.

So, what should a real marketing process be ?

First of all, marketing is a process operated by businesses, organizations (among them many non profit associations) or even individuals in order to gain control over transactions and exchanges that are crucial for their current existence and their future.

Businesses as well as non-profit organizations can “last” only if they can achieve repeated “wealthy” transactions over the long term.

Wealthy” refers to their ultimate mission, i.e., creating economic value in a socially controlled environment or creating social value while balancing costs and revenue over the long term.

 “Repeated wealthy transactions” can only occur if the marketing process succeeds in generating  satisfaction for the parties (1) during the transaction between seller and buyer, (2) during the utilization of the product / service by the user and (3) in the course of the long term relationship between all parties involved. If, as a buyer/user of a product, I feel happy and satisfied, i will be more inclined to buy again or to recommend the seller to my friends, leading to repeat business. Simple, isn’t it ? Just old common sense !

This leads us to THREE VISIONS OF MARKETING

Transaction marketing

During that phase, the supplier will of course try to convince the potential client to buy (that’s selling) but, more important (s)he will do its best to let the customer leave with a strong feeling of satisfaction (I made a good deal !). This process may include some negotiation.

Usage marketing

The supplier job is not finished. Now is the time to rely on product and service quality to hold the promises. It’s also time to imagine and manage a specific «user experience» aiming at delivering satisfaction  in a context of  immediate consumption or longer term utilization.  Value perceived through usage should lead to customer loyalty and/or  to diffusion of supplier reputation.

Relationship marketing

Customers want more than just a product or a service. They want interaction. They demand respect, attention and care ! It’s key for the supplier to build and maintain trustful long term relationships with its customers/partners/users in order to prepare the next sales. Experiential marketing may help enrich the emotions but more important, real empathy and active listening are keys to success here.

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Marketing is not selling. Marketing is about delivering satisfaction to a group of selected customers so they want to deal again with you. Period !

In order to do so, marketers need the help of all company players: backstage people are supplying the products/services (supply chain), product developers think about continuous improvement and innovation, frontstage employees interact with customers, management is supporting the customer culture.

It’s so important to induce this spirit of “customer first” because today ‘s customers are hard to please, they are less loyal and they are ready to leave you for a detail.

So, it’s good to have a great brand, it’s good to have great communication, it’s good to have super salespeople but, most importantly, you need to deliver !

Be inspired !


 

Marketing à la Trump: no thank you !

Marketing the Trump way: no thank you !

With Donald Trump elected President of the United States, I’ve seen a number of posts and articles claiming that one of the reason for Trump’s successful election was that he run a better marketing campaign than Clinton. Even my eminent colleague John A. Quelch from Harvard Business School wrote a quick article which I do not consider to be his most excellent http://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/donald-trump-s-winning-marketing-manual

I must say that I don’t agree at all with these views for the following reasons.

  1. Marketing is not about sales, it’s about customer satisfaction. At this point, the most we can say is that Trump convinced a number of citizens to cast a vote for him. This is most similar with a buying process. Not at all a “consumption” process. We will judge President Trump marketing performance when he will run for a second term. At that time, we will see if his current supporters are happy and satisfied with his policy or not.
  1. Trump did not win the highest market share. Let’s point out that Trump was not the best seller. He didn’t win the majority of voters. Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by more than 2,000,000 votes. Actually, she got more market share than her competitor but she lost the election due to the Electoral College system so specific to the USA.
  1. Marketing is not about any kind of false promises to get people to buy your stuff. This sounds more like the hard selling techniques used by door to door salesmen of the past. They would confuse naïve people with beautiful speeches in order to load them with useless products and then disappear forever from the neighborhood. Look at Donald Trump speech style and attitude: it’s exactly that !
  1. Ethical marketing communication practice forbids to denigrate competitors. In most countries of the world, it is specified in the law or at least in the codes of ethics of the marketing and communication profession. Nowhere now can responsible marketing people lie about competitors, about product integrity or about brand promises. In the case of Trump, that’s exactly what he did all along his campaign. In the most disgusting ways.

These facts are leading me to reject the simple fact that Trump so called marketing is any good marketing.

In any case, I don’t want that kind of attitude, the Trump attitude, to even be assimilated with the marketing discipline, a discipline that some of us, professors and practicioners, want to rehabilitate in the eyes of the public. Claiming that candidate Trump and his clique were good marketers just makes me vomit. Period !

Be inspired ! trmp_skywriting-800x430.jpg

 

 

5 ideas to stay informed of global trends

 

Last week I addressed a group of CEO’s and entrepreneurs in a key note called “the CEO Agenda”. One of the recommendations I gave them was to always stay abreast of new trends happening in the world as new trends are the waves on which you can build strategies.

One of them questioned me: “How can I do that ? I’m overloaded by work and I’m not a specialist of trend analysis”. He’s right. If you don’t save some time for watching trends, then you implicitly decide to live in the present instead of the future. And today, the present is already the past !

So, here are 5 ideas to pick up about staying on tune.

  1. Follow trends watching websites

There are a number of these out there on the internet. Trendwatching.com and faithpopcorn.com are famous ones for consumer behaviors, but you can find a number about economics, technology, industry, etc. Choose one or two of them and follow them each week. It’s better than shopping ideas around the internet with no precise goal. I also recommend to log in to TED regularly http://www.ted.com. Book one hour of your time every 2 weeks and follow a TED talk. It’s brilliant.

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  1. Read futurologists

John Naisbitt http://www.naisbitt.com was one of the first futurologists who wrote books about what he called “megatrends”. You need to hunt for this litterature or find reports edited by consulting firms. See examples like http://www.kpmg.com/Global/en/…/future…/future-state-2030-v3.pdf or http://www.frost.com/prod/servlet/cpo/213016007

It’s enough to read one book each year or one report every three months about the future. It will give you a sense of the long term. It will help you detect waves on which to build your future strategies.

  1. Get interested in contemporary art

Contemporary art is a barometer of emerging trends. Postmodernism, a characteristic of today society, started as a broad movement that developed in the late-20th century across philosophy, the arts, architecture… (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Postmodernism). Choose an art that moves you (graphic art or music or else) and look for its newest expressions. Try to spot the most advanced artists, those who appear to be out of norms, and study their output. It will unsconsciously train your mind to avant-garde and make yourself more open to new ideas.

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  1. Visit the most trendy cities

Future happens in some places in the world. Silicon Valley for hightech and entrepreneurship, Boston, USA fo education, Milan, Italy for fashion, Singapore for media and communication industries, London for everything ! You can also travel to Seoul, Tokyo, Paris or Frankfurt. If you don’t have the chance or budget to travel these cities, get into them on line. Look at all new things happening in New York for example ! Be persistent ! Try to become a specialist ! What’s happening there at this moment will happen soon everywhere in the world.

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  1. Watch generations under you

One of the reasons I’m always in line with what’s new is that I’m always with younger people. It’s fabulous when you don’t consider new things as weird but as a subject of interest. When my children were teens, I was interested in their music. When meeting young students, I learn new words, new tools, new behaviors. So, don’t stay in your generation ghetto ! If you’re generation X, meet generation Y. If you’re generation Y, go for Z ! Toots Thielemans, a world famous jazz musician recently died at 90+ (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toots_Thielemans). He was quoted to say: “Does it make any sense to always play the same music as 50 years ago ? People are not expecting that from me. My ears are turned on to the future. I’m not living in the past“.

All in all, it’s about curiosity. Trends are emerging everywhere every time in front of us. We live in the theater where the actors of future times are playing. Just have this routine to be always curious about everything new. Forget about your immediate work, people who are usually around you. Don’t work too much on details. And think !

Be inspired !

Marketing…it’s not what you think !

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 !

Be inspired

 

Did you find the green ocean ?

Blue ocean strategy is making the buzz these days. I can hear students and professionals talk about it everyday. And…as all famous models, the more people talk about it, the more the model gets distorded and looks like some kind of old patchwork.

Blue Ocean Strategy was developed by Kim and Mauborgne and first published in 2005. More than 10 years already. “They observed that companies tend to engage in head-to-head competition… Yet…it brings no real profit in today’s industries… Success comes, not from battling competitors, but from creating blue oceans of untapped new market spaces…”. https://www.blueoceanstrategy.com

This book is one of the most inspiring book i’ve read. Clear, persuasive, disruptive. But now it’s already a classic. Marketing has moved to new paradigms. One of it is “green marketing”. Green marketing is not new but it was limited to some greenwashing for years. Nothing really fundamental. Nothing really strategic. In the meanwhile, some pioneers were managing their little green business in some hidden garage somewhere. Now, the little guys grew up and are the current winners. The little green sea became an ocean !

Some examples ?

  • Whole Foods Market, founded in Austin, Texas, in 1980 by two owners of small natural stores, now more than 400 supermarkets in America and UK. A wonderful concept, marvelously merchandised. http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com
  • Preserve Products, a plastic manaufacturer founded in 1997 by Eric Hudson in Waltham, Massachusetts. Hudson worked with scientists and engineers to create Preserve’s first high-quality product from recycled plastics—a toothbrush. Since then, it has grown into a dynamic, green lifestyle company offering a range of everyday products for almost every room in the home. http://www.preserveproducts.com 13413701_1740078236276574_328058319174818470_n.png
  • Ecover, founded in a small cottage in a rural town in Belgium by a team of highly motivated eco-pioneers. Long before ‘sustainability’ and ‘eco-friendly’ became household names, they showed evidence that phosphates, a common ingredient used in laundry and dishwasher products, were polluting water systems. They created a phosphate free washing powder, a real success that soon found its way across the globe. http://uk.ecover.com/en

So what ? What does that teach us ? Winners are those who believe in their deep values. They’re not dreamers, they’re militants. They want to share, not sell. Money is not the goal, it’s the consequence. The key to success in contemporary marketing is this: values bring value !

Be inspired !

 

BREXIT: a new example of VUCA

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Have you heard of VUCA, one of the buzzwords in strategy today ?

VUCA is the acronym used to describe the state of our business environment.Not only business, by the way, but also political and societal.

VUCA stands for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity

Volatility

When I started teaching strategy, back in the 80’s, the best of the best tools was the “long term strategic plan”. I’ve seen dozens of such plans: 80-100 pages of details about investments to make, market shares to gain, factories to locate and countries to conquer… All that was based on assumptions that the world 5-10 years down the road would be more or less the same as the present.  Well, we know now that change is the only status quo. Not only that: the way we compete, our customers behaviors, our political and regulatory environment are moving constantly. Business and financial investors don’t like that. That’s why Brexit generated so much volatility on finacial markets too.

Uncertainty

Linked to volatility is the unpredictability of the framework in which our decisions will be executed. Management techniques were always based on assumptions about the future and the use of planning as a major tool of management and control.But , as said above, , change is constant in this volatile world.  We don’t know anything about the future. That’s why “planning, budgeting and control” methods lead to endless discussions in companies today. It just doesn’t work anymore.  So, what can we do ? Strategists talked about scenario planning i.e. generating several scenarios about the future and the probability of occurrence. Good ! But…it doesn’t really help much. Look at Brexit again. Everyone knew that the “leave” decision of voters had a 50% chance of occurrence but  a few hours later the consequences of it were nevertheless still hard to predict.

Complexity

Our world is now so complex that great decision makers are those who can point the key issues in an information jungle.And great executers are those who can keep focus on key actions. Everything became complex: supply chains, customers’ behaviors, big data systems, economic models, financial products,…So the danger is overcomplexification leading to a lack of vision or oversimplification due to a misunderstanding of key issues . Brexit again is a good example. Consequences of this political factor will be economical, commercial, regulatory and…emotional. Moreover, all consequences will link together making the whole a kind of never seen patchwork.

Ambiguity

I believe that one of the main challenges of our times is to accommodate paradoxes. For centuries, mankind was characterized by simple problems that could be dealt with simple solutions. The complexity of today, as mentioned here above, is leading to a gigantic confusion. As most people still reason in terms of dichotomy (good or bad, right or wrong , desirable or not desirable, …) we end up with never ending debates leading to no solution. Today, we must think differently. We should accommodate the extremes. We cannot escape solutions that are wright and wrong, baring consequences that may be good and bad, being finally desirable and undesirable at the same time. This how we should see Brexit. Whatever the vote, there was no “good” solution for all. Now that the vote is done, we will need to manage and negotiate the outcomes intelligently.

To conclude, Brexit is a good example of VUCA. But VUCA is everywhere now. We live and we manage in a global interlinked societal, political and economical environment. What is happening somewhere on the globe bears consequences everywhere else. Let’s be attentive and understand this complexity the best we can.

Be inspired !