Many business owners and CEOs have asked the question:
Does marketing work?
To find an answer to that question, we need to first make sure we are speaking the same language when we use the term ‘marketing.’
The meaning of the word, ‘marketing’ has evolved since it was first conceived more than 100 years ago. Marketing as a discipline has evolved over a series of orientations. Understanding them will help find common ground.
Since the beginning of the first industrial revolution, which was kick-started by the dawn of steam power in 1760, marketing first emerges as a series of functions that promoted products or services for trade.
By the turn of the century, the second industrial revolution started with the recent discoveries of electricity, oil and gas. Using these, they were able to power factories that could mass produce goods at a low cost. Other inventions such as the telephone and the motorcar helped the rapid advancements in the quality of people’s lives.
During this period, marketing promoted products of a higher quality than ever known before, and they were fairly priced and readily available for sale. The new emerging middle class of the day now had the means to fulfil these new wants and needs.
From the 1950s and into the 1960s, companies increasingly improved the quality of their products. The belief was that as long as the product was of high quality, it would sell. For two decades that thinking prevailed, with research and development continually innovating new and improved products.
As products became more plentiful, in fact as supply outstripped demand due to mass production and the economies of scale driving down the costs, selling and promoting products became more prevalent. The age of the ‘Sale’ was born. Consumers were faced with a variety of choices for a single product and no sight of there ever being a shortage and now had to be convinced to make a purchase.
As businesses moved to embrace selling oriented marketing, a major leap from the previous non-client-centric view of most businesses, the role of marketing received greater attention as a function of a business.
As competition increased between brands, businesses responded by focussing on selling more products. Promoting and selling products are set to be two key areas of marketing.
In spite of organisations moving from a product orientation to being more sales oriented, the customer was still largely excluded in their planning. Products and services were developed without considering the wants and needs of customers. Theodore Levitt coined the term Marketing Myopia (marketing ‘near-sightedness’) in the 1960s. He suggested an industry is a customer-satisfying process, not a goods-producing process.
The business should concentrate on meeting customers’ needs rather than selling products.
A great example of marketing myopia is of the early railroad magnates seeing themselves as being in ‘the railroad business’ rather than ‘the transportation business.’ This myopic ‘product oriented’ view thus excluded customers who were increasingly turning to cars, trucks and aeroplanes for transportation.
Moving through the marketing orientations – production, product, selling, marketing – follows the cycles of a business. In the founding stages of a business, the focus is on getting the production process right. Once production is in place, the attention turns to the quality of the product. When the product is up to management standards, the sales team promote and sell the product.
“Marketing assists sales by creating a fertile environment for a sale to take place.”
Marketing has a different approach.
Start with the customer in mind.
Having a marketing-centric orientation and applying the principles of modern marketing throughout the organisation, is how great brands are able to differentiative from their competitors. Marketing and all its functions such as advertising, promotions, sponsorships, public relations, product design, packaging, digital, social media and all the other elements that make up the scope of modern marketing, is a process successful organisations follow to gain an advantage over the competition.
Applying a robust, well-conceived, professionally constructed, sustainable marketing strategy, is how most memorable brands have built their image.
Remember, we are all marketers, at least some of the time. A young toddler convincing the rest of the family to go watch an animated movie she would like to see is marketing in action.
Of course, marketing works, ask any parent.
Have an awesome weekend. 😉
* (Feel free to drop me a mail firstname.lastname@example.org I’d like that.)
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