The Crashing Flywheels
Why Marketing is so hard…
Many decades ago, Kotler defined what we still consider today as the definition of marketing. It was based on the famous 4 P’s.
For years, the motion of companies has been to develop a product, based on market research, to then heavily promote that product in the market at a certain price point, based on supply and demand. That was a typical selling motion.
In the meantime, times have changed. One thing happened that had a dramatic impact, the internet. It caused people to become less dependent on what advertisers had to say, and they started to make up their own mind. This caused the wheel to start spinning in the opposite direction.
People started looking at value, which caused them to start searching in the market to a place that would give them access to information and a way to converse with companies about a certain service they had to offer that would answer to their desire for value. Value can be seen as the difference between perceived benefit versus perceived cost (cost of acquisition, opportunity cost, hidden cost…) plus price. Since a large part of this equation is ‘perceived’ it’s often difficult to create a generic value proposition, since the perception is in the eyes of the beholder. The good news is that there are only 3 basic values: time, money and quality. Any perceived benefit a potential customer might have, can be categorized in one of these 3 buckets.
The process of a customer looking for means to satisfy their need for value can be referred as the purchase process. These 2 cycles tend to spin around simultaneously. While some people still want to be sold to, some others only want to be coached through a purchase process. The role of marketing is fundamentally different in the 2 cycles, and because they are spinning simultaneously, marketing can be pretty hard to do. In the old model, marketing is mainly promotion; while in the new model, we are more talking about content marketing. However, the 4 wheels of marketing remain the same:
Service (<> Product): what do you sell and who are the people that make it.
Marketing Communications (<> Promotion): how will you communicate about it.
Sales (<> Price): what’s the sales plan and approach.
Partner (<> Place): who can help you getting the message or service out in the market.
When making a marketing plan, each of these pillars has to be fed. Often companies refer to marketing communications as their marketing plan, but there are 3 more parts to fill out.
When looking specifically at the marketing part, there are 3 main questions that need to be answered: what, who and how.
What will you communicate? This is basically the answer to why you are in business
Who is your audience? What type of role, language, mindset does your audience have
How will you reach them? Those are all the tactics you have at your disposal
As a marketer today, you need to be a jack of all trades. First of all you need to be able to balance the 2 flywheels turning in opposite direction; you need to be a psychologist to be able to get into the heads of your audience to look for individual value props; and thirdly, since everything is under pressure from a cost and ROI perspective, you need to be an analytical marketer to be able to measure impact and calculate return-on-marketing-investment.
And that’s why marketing is so hard these days…