Marketing problems from the lens of a Digital Marketer

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There is a time honoured attitude with Marketing and it goes something like this."Marketing is what you do when your product is no good". It was a famous quote by Edwin Land, CEO of Polaroid. When I hear this as a marketer, I have an insitinctive visceral reaction. It is that of insult. I am not sure if this statement was made at the time Polaroid was loosing it's market share (but that's not the motivation behind this persuasion).

Why would Mr. Land  (or for that matter anyone) make a comment like that?  Granted he was a successful businessman, a genius scientist, but was he a successful salesman? OR (A more likely scenario) was "Selling" his ethos and that's why he didn't call what he did as "Marketing".The purpose of this persuasion is to talk about Marketing, it's true purpose and challenges. The persuasion will continue to build in future posts where I'll share my perspectives on  the How To's of "Sophisticated Marketing".

 

Marketing Wisdom

What exactly is Marketing?

It is not Selling. It is not Advertising either.

A seller is motivated by only one lever. Making the sale. His/Her primary goal is  to convert a product or service into cash. Advertising which most people think of as Marketing is an aspect of it.  

Marketing is about Products, Selling, and a higher cause.

It is the idea of "satisfying" the needs of a customer. In this day and age where Word of Mouth is getting increasing prominence the power is disproportionately higher with the buyer than the seller. It's the salesman who takes cues from the buyer in a way that the product or brand becomes a consequence of the marketing effort.

What are the two biggest problems faced by the Marketers today?

(1) Market Sizing:

It's all about creating and growing in new market.

While this seems to be a basic issue, it is a significant issue for established and new players alike. It is also poorly executed. Knowing the size of the addressable market and more importantly products that are not yet developed is a vital and first step in any marketing plan.

Market Size Problem

At a macro level companies find it extremely difficult to be objective about the product they go to market with. The sizing issue ultimately results in a pessimistic or (often) an unrealistically optimistic forecast.  At a micro level Marketing teams lack expertise (or time) to develop actionable (and accurate) market sizing forecast. This is especially true for marketers in my business (Finance and Asset Management) where there is a lack of end user knowledge and selling occurs primarily through Distribution channels (sales force).

(2) Brand Share:

It's all about creating and growing Brand Premium.

It is also referred to as 'market share'. It is essentially calculated as the amount of money spent by consumers on a particular brand as compared to the amount of money spent by consumers on all competitive brands in the same category. Brand Share is usually represented in terms of percentages.

Brand Share Problem

In an ideal world companies ought to set marketing goals to achieve specific brand share (and plan or course correct their strategies accordingly) it seldom happens partly due to the reasons noted in the Market Sizing problem and partly due to the lack of focus on the products at an Enterprise level.

Polaroid camera was a brilliant market making invention. The fact is that the entire batch (57) of products and films sold out during Christmas 1948  when it was introduced.

Was the Product good? No question about it.

Was there any marketing? Ofcourse.

Someone chose to put it in the store (Placement), Created Demonstrations (Promotion), and quite certainly there was a Price element to it. In Mr. Land's "universe" this wasn't a seperate category; it was a part and parcel of providing the product and service.  

Marketing shouldn't be thought of as any different (superior or inferior) to selling or any other organizational function. I believe much of marketing in this digital age can be bought down to a science and learnt. I hope to collaborate with you with perspectives on how.

(Happy) Customer's  is the only key to profitable growth.