Marketing has become everything you do. Everyone in your organization is a marketer.
In classical management thinking, marketing, advertising and branding were often separate from the product and company. This is a particular type of thinking best associated with what is called Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG), but has become popular for all types of products and services.
For many FMCG goods there is essentially no difference between competing products. So, marketers are employed to invent a difference. They do this through association and repetition; essentially psychological and emotional manipulation and trickery.
Sometimes it's about story telling. You tell a funny or interesting story to the consumer and they repay you by buying your product. In many ways, there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. Exciting, funny stories and fantasy make life interesting. We pay a little extra not to be bored.
The problem is that this sort of marketing has become commonplace. Marketers think that this is marketing and branding in general, rather than the product-specific type of marketing it really is. So many marketers dream of having big ad budgets. They think that their heroic marketing is convincing those who have absolutely no interest in your product that they now absolutely MUST have it.
The Web reflects an empowered, engaged consumer who sees past many of the traditional marketing tricks. "At the end of the day, customers no longer separate marketing from the product-it is the product. They don't separate marketing from their in-store or online experience-it is the experience. In the era of engagement, marketing is the company," Tom French, Laura LaBerge, and Paul Magill write in a July 2011 article for McKinsey Quarterly.
Kristin Zhivago is one of the smartest marketers I know. In her new book, Roadmap To Revenue, she states: "Stop trying to "sell" and "market". Instead, start to figure out how to make the purchase easier for the customers who would benefit from your product or services."
This is an essential point. A few days ago I searched for "digital watches". Did I want to buy a car, jeans, glasses, house, gloves, pension plan? What were the chances of a big banner ad trying to sell me home insurance? Here's what I wanted to buy. You've guessed it, yes, I knew you would, because you're very clever and perceptive. What I wanted to buy and what I did buy was a digital watch.
There's a growing number of consumers out there who know what they want to buy, or at least have a very good idea. Many of these customers judge your brand first and foremost based on your service, not your product or fancy advertising. Part of this service is the self service simplicity of your website. How easy is it to use? Does it give real answers to specific questions?
At Zappos they state that, "Customer service isn't just a department. We've been asked by a lot of people how we've grown so quickly, and the answer is actually really simple... We've aligned the entire organization around one mission: to provide the best customer service possible."
The heart of new marketing is customer service.
- Customer Experience: Measure Negative Behavior, Not Just Positive Behavior
- Web Optimization: Redesign Out, Continuous Improvement In