My seven rules for today great marketers

The world is changing. Consumers are changing. Marketing is changing.

However, when I observe some young marketers, I sometimes feel like I’m watching politicians. They enter the profession with a lot of ideals and after a few years it seems they forgot all of them. They are taken by the job. They are prisonners of their ambition. They forget about the ultimate goal of marketing – i.e. creating value and delivering satisfaction – in order to focus on short term sales and profit because they think they will be judged on that !

Besides the fact that it’s futile, this attitude is also pointless and useless in the context of today ‘s marketing. That’s why I want to offer here my seven rules to follow if you want to always be a great marketer.

1. Practice real marketing, not fake marketing
It’s just basic but very often forgotten. Real marketing is the process of generating a long term sustainable flow of revenue thanks to a mix of 3 ingredients : customer loyalty, strong reputation and constant innovation. If you focus on short term sales, you’re not a marketer, you’re a salesperson. If you focus on short term profit, you’re not a marketer, you’re a finance person. Explain that your boss !

2. Forget about models: real life is never as in the models
I’m used to see students and young professionals use models. They feel comfortable drawing matrices, tinkering a SWOT or swinging everything into a business model canvas ! Most of the time, it’s poorly done. It does not have the substrate necessary for understanding the key issues.
Forget about all that. Organize your ideas differently. Create your own model, your own canvas, your own plan. Make powerful analysis based on your own reality. And forget about the 4p’s, it’s just all stuff of the 1950’s !

3. Understand the world and immerse yourself constantly in the society
Great detectives like to smell the scene of the crime ! They don’t stay in their office. They’re in the field. Great marketers also. To address customers’needs and understand behaviors, you need to penetrate the society. Not only your own circle of millenials but also and foremost all layers of the population. Not only your own country or city but also other places in the world. Not only on some days or weekends but at all times. Every 4 or 5 years, take 3 to 6 months to travel around. Open your eyes and your ears and rediscover the world.

4. Be a citizen: responsible, respectful, militant
Marketing today is about being engaged. Brands should mean something else than quality, reliability and seduction. As a marketer you have a strong influence on society. You have the power of words, the power of action and sometimes the power of money. It’s a high responsibility. Use it wisely but use it. Don’t use demagogy to sell your stuff. Respect the customer, respect the product and respect yourself. When time will come to reflect on your life, be sure you’re proud of what you did as a professional.

5. Be sexy but not over-sexy: be genuine and authentic
Marketing is about seduction, right ? Seduction is the process of deliberately enticing a person, to engage in a relationship. But as Tom Martin wrote in Advertising Age                   « …seduction is hard. It requires time, patience, skill and a willingness to give before you get… »  In marketing as in real life, fake behavior may get you short term recognition but will eventually result in some kind of disaster. Consumers were often mistreated and have been too often deceived. They became suspicious. Authenticity is what will make you win the hearts of your clients !

6. Have an immense culture: read, listen, discuss
Complex, paradoxal, ambiguous. This is how our world is now. It makes it hard to understand, even when you rely on the best experts to help you. And most people became so ignorant today that those who are cultivated have a definite advantage when comes the time to perceive reality and find great solutions. Cultural intelligence has never been so crucial for leadership and success. Be distinctive. Spend time, much time, to build and maintain a solid CQ (Cultural Quotient). Read less business books and more essays. Attend conferences, discuss with philosophers and devour TEDx talks

7. Sleep with your customers 
When I started my career in marketing at Procter & Gamble, my boss took me in his office and urged me to take home a full load of P&G products. « You should use your products » he told me. « You should love your products. You should sleep with your products ». He was right. At that time, product marketing was the ultimate strategic posture. Today these times are gone. Marketing is about offering solutions to customers, bringing them the most value, oversatisfying them. To do so, you need to know your clients intimately. So, if he were here today, my ex-boss would say : «…know your customers, love your customers, sleep with your customers… » 

Marketing may be about technique but it’s about attitude and mind openness before all ! A marketing person should be madly curious, a fierce fan of new trends and intensely passionate. S(he)’s the one who will open the eyes of her (his) organization, stimulate everyone’s mind and fight for innovation and creativity of all.

Be aware of your responsibility and be inspired !

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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