Everything we read in today about marketing is focused on shiny new toys: social media, digital content, interactivity, SEO, viral video and probably a lot more that my marketing director’s brain has yet to process.
We are made to feel that unless we have a suite of apps, continually Tweet, engage in Facebook conversations, have a fully interactive website, arrange crowd sourcing and flash mobs—we are failing as marketers.
Of course there is some truth to this as our core consumers continuously change their habits and behaviors and the need to achieve and cut through in an increasingly crowded market proves vital. But—and it’s a big but—none of this should be at the expense of abandoning the core marketing activities.
It’s all too easy to fall into the trap of assuming that marketing is just marketing communications. At its heart, marketing is about developing and implementing customer value propositions—profitably.
By customer value propositions, I mean the total sum of benefits the customer receives from buying a product. In “boring” traditional marketing terms, this relies on some fundamentals that readers will no doubt have heard of and dismiss as old-fashioned concepts, but without them we are doomed to fail our customers. To review them, they are the four Ps, the eight Ps and, yes, even the 10 Ps.
The fundamental bedrock of marketing includes the four Ps: product, price, place and promotion. Extending that concept even further are people, process, physical evidence, packaging, partners and payment.
When we as marketers fail to meet these principles, especially in this digital age of social networks and rapid information, the stakes are higher than ever. One negative experience posted on a social media channel can spiral out of control. Think about the last time your purchasing and consumption experience didn’t match up to the promise. It probably wasn’t Facebook or Twitter’s fault but more likely a failure of meeting one of the 10 Ps.
I am sure we can all think of an example that caused a brand problems in the social media world: the brand-new car that breaks down after a day and needs a part, but there are no parts available because the product plan didn’t work; the customer helpline you called regarding your new product, but the representative wasn’t aware the company sold these products; or the bad advice you received from the sales assistant about a product because that person hadn’t been trained properly.
Bottom line: As marketers, we cannot afford to forget that the shiny new marketing communication toys are about 10 percent of our jobs. We certainly need them, and they are vital for communication and engagement with consumers, but if we ignore the basics, we will be failing as marketing professionals and business people.
Chris Harrop is the Group Marketing Director at Marshalls plc