Marketing. It can be vague. It can be versatile. Today, I will try to give this discipline a form.
I have often found the idea of marketing to be a human condition, necessitated at most times by our social existence. For instance, every moment we put forth a certain image of ours – from the clothes we wear, to how we converse, to things we do – we are essentially marketing ourselves. When we praise our favorite hockey team, we are marketing it. Even when we do something for a sense of justification, we are in some ways marketing our nature to ourselves. Did that take the definition a bit too far? How you answer that question may very well define the future of this concept.
The very atlas of this function was imprinted on me first during a fabulous course on Marketing Management at Bocconi University. Branding, Consumer behavior, E-marketing, Print marketing, Legal marketing, Green marketing, 4Ps, Channel marketing . . . the list goes on. Yet, most fail to visualize just how these pieces come together. So before we give these a shape, let us first understand their flow.
It always starts with a product or service that we intend to market. It is both followed and fed by market research, trickling on to researching the potential consumers. Therein lies the 1st tier of our Strategy: the act of segmenting those customers into distinct groups, targeting one or more of them, differentiating our offering from our competitors for them, and accordingly positioning the product/service in their minds.
That last one is where we venture into creating and defining the brand itself. And that acts as the short bridge to the 2nd tier of our Strategy: the popular 4Ps. That includes the product we eventually sell, places where we can reach our target customers (covered under Channel marketing), and pricing (ranging between the target customers’ willingness to spend for our brand on the higher end, and our willingness to accept a value on the lower end).
Promotion (often confused with the word “Marketing” itself) includes E-marketing, the traditional print/radio/TV and that elusive angel of any marketer – word of mouth publicity. Guarding these bridges as corrective gatekeepers, of course, are elements of Legal and Ethical (now: Green) marketing.
Still, that flowchart above looks tad complicated, doesn’t it? If we look closely, all entities tend to merge into one another until we are really left with just two overarching ones: The Brand and the Consumer. As I said, Marketing is a human function. So allow me to simplify things with an alternate visualization:
The Brand is at the very heart of any Marketing approach, connected in a continuous feedback loop with the brain that is Consumer research. This is where we get our data, our sight and our Tier 1 Strategy. And just the way we have a calculative left-brain and a creative right brain, the Marketing brain has two sides too. One is quantitative, measurable and visible – often utilized through secondary research and surveys. Think age, gender, consumption amount etc. The other side is subtle, invisible and accessed through observation and psychographic analysis – Tribes, preferences, habits, cultures, etc. Without the two, what we know is often deceptively insufficient. It is this holistic art that increased the mouth size of our toothpaste tubes, and pushed product prices down a cent to $X.99 around the world! A part of such cultural influence is brilliantly dealt with by Prof. Erin Meyer in her book, The Culture Map, as summarized in my recent post.
Online and offline channels of marketing and sales serve as the two arms of any brand, executing the Tier 2 Strategy of 4Ps. The legs, on which it stands are the two pillars of legal and social/environmental/ethical standards. They are the reason you are not an open book all over the internet already. Or are you?
Enter, the right-brain. We are faced with the potential usurper of future Marketing, both scary and fascinating in equal parts. That’s Part 2. Meanwhile . . .
For more posts and insights on consumers, cultures and companies, check out section Air on Blog of the Fly.
© 2015 Malay Upadhyay