Marketing is often misunderstand. The real roles, responsibilities and actions of marketer are most of the time, wrongly seen. From outside point of view, people do not get the crucial importance of Marketing and its army of marketers.
I want here to give the basics understanding of marketing .
When I was working as a marketer, my friends , families and even co-workers had a lot of preconceived ideas.
My friends thought i was travelling around the world, meeting other marketers and having funny meetings and events with them. What a wonderful dream job ! Being paid to travel and get fun time with others people , also paid to travel and get fun. Wrong !
My family was believing that my job consists in doing marketing tricks, convincing customers to buy some products they don’t really need. Designing promotion campaigns , nice leaflets and ads , ultimately distributing coupons to convince people about incredible opportunity to buy. Wrong !
My bosses and co-workers were convinced that my job is about interviews, surveys and PowerPoint. Unfortunately, many of them are still believing that’s the roles and responsibilities of marketers are only about quantitative data.
They believe that most of my energy is focusing on collect customer’s opinion and satisfaction level, through preset interviews templates, simply by ticking the right box in a Q&A form. Wrong !
Many of my colleagues are convinced that I browse the web and some boring financial reports to collect figures and quantified achievements. Excel spreadsheets are therefore the law books to show the past … and to forecast the future. As a result, decisions are taken because of the past figures, which is exactly the same as driving your car forward by looking in the back mirror. Wrong !
And finally, another common belief is that marketing people are kind of expert to do PowerPoint files for amazing presentations an meetings. Transforming the Excel data in nice graphics and pictures, displaying on large screens some un-readable huge quantities of figures.Wrong!
Instead of being tools , Excel and PowerPoint have become the killers of marketers.
When I’m asked to explain what is marketing , I use to quote Philip Kotler : he defines marketing as
“the science and art of exploring, creating, and delivering value to satisfy the needs of a target market at a profit.”
Everything is in this sentence.
Marketing is responsible to define a target. Not by chance, not by feeling . But using tools such as BCG* matrix to help in decision making.
Marketing is having tools ? Yes , and they must be used to help building pictures and help in decision making. I mean the tool or the method does not give you the absolute best answer, but help you to decide what are the most attractive and the most accessible (with your weapons) market segments.
You may dream of targeting a lot of customer categories, on the principle that if you can move mountains you can move molehills. As far as targeting market segments is concerned, too much targets will lead you to miss all of them.
This introduces the concept of market segments, which i will explain in detail in another post.
Exploring intends to give you an understanding of your customers needs and pains. That’s where the science and art of marketing stand.
You don’t want to provide the very same product as your competitor. You want to create the so-called competitive advantages that later, will become values of differentiation and money.
Then knowing exactly your customers real needs is of marketing’s responsibility.
There’s no magic behind this marketing activity , it’s to be a treasure hunter. Listen and observe your targeted customers, be curious about your surroundings, be curious about remarkable event in other markets, observe mega trends that may impact your business field, observe evolution of social behaviors, be curious towards new technologies, look outside your business… be CURIOUS !.
a Marketer is treasure hunter
It’s also about quantifying. Quantify , measure, even estimations are worthwhile. You have to size your market, measure or estimate its total value, measure the accessible and available value for you. Be CURIOUS to collect your financial data. Be CURIOUS to read financial reports, company news and market surveys .
Along this treasure hunt journey, you have to start writing down a list of all your weaknesses. Everything you miss to address the total value of the targeted market. This can go from brand recognition to available and trained sales force. Then you’ll get a first picture of the accessible part of your targeted market. As well as a first list of potential actions and investments to grow your business.
I really want to insist : be a treasure hunter and stay curious of everything, ever.
This will drive you to build your market understanding and, your customer understanding.
Keep in mind that it’s not a linear process, neither a recipe with a starting point and arrival. You are told that the market is changing fast, very fast. You and your customers are drown in a flow of permanent information. We are information eater , and we change on-the-go. Like it or not, Internet and its tremendous of data influences us.
Everything you discover and learn today may be false tomorrow. Then you must always challenge your market understanding. Be opened to listen to new inputs , stay curious and ready to change. Being a marketer means that you are highly adaptable to market changes. Training daily to stay curious will give the power to anticipate changes.
Doing so, you can define and create new values that will really be the answers to customers needs and pains.Neither simply the easy but wrong answer to what customer wants , nor what your noisy colleagues know and believe.
In other words, your robust knowledge makes you the customer voice in offer creation projects. Your proposal of new values to create will become the potential new business.
Creating is transforming the robust requirements into a business object. As a marketer, you have to collaborate with many others functions in your organisation. Designers, programmers, purchasers, …. each of them bringing their knowledge and expertise.
Great moments to see your new offer coming to life. Exciting !
You should however remain alert :
– the target is to deliver the needed value , not to deliver the most amazing and new technology.
– your market is still moving during value creation. Stay curious and opened to influence and convince your peers when you see major changes in your targeted market.
What about a new offer, product, service or solution, that fits perfectly your targeted customer needs , solve most of their pains, is innovative and affordable … but stays on your shelves, awaiting desperately to be sold and delivered.
Yes, the created value must be delivered.
A product, as good as it is, doesn’t sell itself.
The benefits it provides must be shown and told.
This may be the most visible part of the marketing roles and responsibilities. SHOW and TELL, those actions give the feeling that marketing is all about communications and only communications. From lead generations to customer retention and engagement , that’s when the marketing is noisy. Creating promotional tools, sales tools , training tools, is the way that marketing is delivering the values.
The marketing is not selling ?
NO, marketing is not selling, goals and actions are totally different.
in conclusion, what is to be a marketer ?
I always value marketing folks who master the art of asking question and always challenge their knowledge.
Shut up to listen and observe.
Give room to silence.
Be humble and challenge your knowledge.
Enjoy the surprise of discovering something new , learning with pleasure in every interaction.
Be a watcher more than a speaker .
Whatever the role you have in a marketing organization, strategy, offer management, or communication, never forget that the marketing starts and ends with your targeted customers.
* BCG : Boston Consulting Group.