Sunday, June 14, 2009

Marketing is easy in principle, difficult in practice

My friend Jonathan will be comforted to know that Marketing is quite simple in principle. However, it is tougher in practice. I have come to the conclusion that good marketing runs counter to human instinct. We want to have our preconceptions confirmed by being able to sell what we think customers should want rather than finding out what they want first. The steps of good marketing are simple, but demand objectivity.
  1. Work out what is the target market.
  2. Find out what it wants, what it will pay, and where it wants to buy.
  3. Design and make the product or service and ensure that it can be done for a price which maximizes demand (not always cheap in the case of luxury goods).
  4. Ensure that it is available to the target market.
  5. Tell people about it.
As the saying goes,"nothing kills a bad product faster than good advertising." If the product does not live up to expectations, there will be no repeat purchase and buyers will tell prospective buyers about it (even faster today with review sites, blogs and other feedback mechanisms).

Yet so often, we see companies decide that what they can make should be sold to customers and then blame the sales force or marketing department for its failure. Most senior executives these days learn the right way of marketing as much as they learn to read a P&L, yet they are regularly overwhelmed by personal hubris. Many failed products were quite predictable, but became investments in management prestige - a violation of Marketing principles!

1 comment:

Jonathan said...

Thanks for your clear and persuasive introduction to the subject of marketing.

I'm mildly amused to see that you include product design and manufacture as aspects of marketing. I'm not suggesting you're wrong, and I can see a certain logic to it; but I think the engineers I talk to would be surprised to be merged into the Marketing Department.