Ask a room full of marketers and I’m certain there’ll be a room full of different responses and perspectives.
I, like many, have struggled with this but I have come to believer that marketing actually has three inter-related purposes.
The Three Purposes of Marketing
1. Build, maintain and protect the brand
This is about the awareness and credibility of your brand and how trusted we are in the marketplace. It’s not about the product or service we sell, but about our organisations, who we are, why we do what we do and how we do it.
2. Customer engagement
Attracting, appealing to, pleasing, connecting with and retaining our customers using the appropriate tools, channels and technology at our disposal. This remains the essence of marketing in today’s world. But today, marketing has a much larger part to play than ever before. Our customers are moving much further through the sales pipeline without even talking to salespeople. In fact, our customers tell us they don’t want to be sold to anymore. So, we have to completely change our perspective and think more about how we engage with our customers before their buying journey even begins. By making this our starting point we are able to better understand out customers and connect through what they really care about, what matters to them and the challenges they deal with every day.
3. Driving demand
This is not the same as generating leads, thought leads are the natural outcome of the process. Demand generation requires a longer term, far wider, holistic marketing approach that builds awareness and interest. It should create engagement around customer issues while aligning that with what we sell.
Of course, how we do this all depends on our business and our marketing strategy. It takes an unrelenting long-term commitment but taken together, these three elements create the environment in which we can more effectively achieve our organisation’s strategic business goals.
So, now we understand our purpose, let’s move on to the marketing mix.
The Four Ps
I’m sure you are aware of the classic ‘Four Ps’ of marketing:
There’s an argument that the Four Ps are somewhat outdated and I have to agree. I believe there is a better marketing mix we can all use and it’s the ‘Four Cs’ – a more customer-focused marketing mix.
The Four Cs
Customer – this replaces product from the Four Ps. The post-second world war boom mentality of make it and they will buy it no longer applies to our modern business world. We can only sell what someone specifically wants to buy. In other worse, we must know our customers as well as we know our products and services so that we are able to solve our customers wants and needs.
Cost – this replaces price. Price has become increasingly irrelevant as our products and services are commoditised. Bigger, better, faster, cheaper are no longer compelling enough reasons for customers to buy from us. They can just as easily buy the same of similar products and services from out competitors at the similar prices. The purchaser faces other costs in the purchase than just the price. So understanding the real cost to the buyer helps us to understand the motivations behind our customers buying decisions.
Convenience replaces place – Our prospects no longer need a physical place in order to make a purchase and creating that convenience I more important today than ever before. There are so many channels for our customers to use during the buying journey. We have to be omnipresent. They move among these channels seamlessly according to what is the most accessible and cost effective at the time of place they happen to be.
Communication – this replaces promotion. Our prospects are no longer passive recipients of our marketing messages and they no longer behave or buy in predictable ways. Communication is about developing a dynamic dialogue with our customers so that we influence instead of manipulate. Promotion implies a perspective from the point of view of what we sell. Communication applies a point of view from the customer perspective.
Whatever purpose you align with and whatever mix resonates with you as a marketer they do underpin the profession and we will not be as effective at telling our stories if we do not utilise them.
For further reading around this subject there is an excellent book by Heidi Taylor called B2B Marketing Strategy.