Why marketing is about customer value – and not social media

Marketing is about value-Labor Day 2020 -StratoServe

Ask anyone – What is marketing? And you’ll get answers like advertising, social media or mobile marketing. Others, who have taken a formal marketing class, will say 4 P’s (Product, Price, Place, Promotion). This is surprising and at the root of any marketing effort that fails or provides a less than hoped results. And as anyone who has tried to market anything has learnt – marketing results tend to disappoint. Unless, the marketer is razor focussed on the customer and their perceived value.

The American Marketing Association has spent enormous hours in defining marketing. And this definition is in every marketing book starting from high school. And yet…. the confusion…

Why this acute confusion? Here are some thoughts:

Advertising and Social Media are more visible? : Social media is everywhere, all the time. If anyone has lots of social media followers- it’s because they provide value to their audience. Just look at at the “Table of Contents” of any marketing textbook. There is a reason that Advertising and Social Media appears towards the end of the book. The target market,product,price,place all have the value baked in. The last step is promotion which includes social media, and depends on the previous steps. Thus, the advertising agency must truly understand the client industry and domain. When you as a customer do buy something because of an ad, the product must provide you value. If so, you would buy again and recommend it to your friends-often on social media.

Marketing evolved from Sales: Marketing in its “value” form evolved from age old “sales”. In sales, the salesperson tries to sell what he/she has already got to sell. Here the sales mantra is to “sell what is selling”. And denounce what is not selling! More commissions and hailed as a hero, it makes more sense to sell products that have value clarity.

Top sales performers are rainmakers and respected as heroes across the organization. Except when consumers value perception changes…

Recall the famous case of Encyclopedia Britannica in book form that sold door to door. When the PC (personal computer) emerged in the mid 1980″s the customer got a free one compact disk “Grolier encyclopedia.” Folks at the Encyclopedia Britannica realized that the computer was going to change the game. And yet no salesperson could make the $600 commission on a CD. Resistance from the sales force was so high that Britannica was unable to change its business model. The internet was to come over a decade later and then there was Wikipedia and Google.

The consumer is always changing: Effective B2B sales people know about value in marketing. They can understand early in the sales process whether the client sees value in the product offering. Then they spend more time with prospects who are more appreciative of their product’s value.

Driving B2B is B2C. When consumers change, B2C changes and B2B must change as well. Clayton Christensen recounts about the computer disk drive industry. Given a choice consumers would prefer a personal computer that does not occupy a lot of desk space. And that preference drove the preference in B2B supply chain for smaller disk drives. The legacy large disc drive manufacturers became extinct.

There are many examples of changing consumer behavior. A widespread change in young people is that they prefer cell phone text/social media messaging to a phone call. Think of how many times you see young people “talking” on the phone? At the other demographic end are the elderly. It’s astonishing how much people adopted the mobile phone, apps and social media during the Coronavirus pandemic.You may be old and high risk but once you set your mind to it, you can (and do) order groceries through the grocery app!

You can be sure that all the technology enabled processes like apps, family zoom meetings will augment life after COVID.

There always will be some folks who see value in your product

Remember that there will always be some customers who think that your product is of value. And today digital marketing allows you to reach those loyalists online. Thus it is possible for a singer to find a thousand listeners on iTunes or Spotify. The challenge is whether your market is big enough to generate enough revenue for your goals.

We wish our dear readers a very Happy Labor Day weekend in the US. We ask everyone to follow local public safety guidelines. We will soon put the Coronavirus behind us!

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