Sex, Marketing, Products and Everything in Between
I got handed the other day a very tiny budget for marketing of my product line. But it wasn’t the size of the budget that caused me to stop and think (although it probably would cover the cost of a new family people carrier). It was the fact that the budget description stated that the budget was to be allocated to marketing.
Now, I’ve been a product manager for 6 years and a programme manager in a range of industries for many years more. But the realm of marketing has been something of a mystery to me. Marketing mix, strategic marketing, competitive analysis, branding management, strategic branding, marketing shaping, marketing segmentation, above the line, below the line ……. you see how for uninitiated it can seem an arcane and mysterious art.
Marketing in organisation plays the same role in the life of an organisation as sex does in most of our personal lives. Sex and marketing have close parallels because:
a) everyone is doing it
b) everyone thinks they are doing it at least as well as the next person
c) secretly we all assume that others are doing more of it than we are
d) we do it because it feels good
So if marketing is as fundamental a need as this, then why is it that marketing seems to have become so complicated and confusing that even professional marketers cannot tell you what marketing is for. In other words, whatever happened to the Joy of Marketing?
Marketing in my (non-expert) view has become overly complicated and has forgotten that it has one basic purpose in life. Marketing is about finding customers, or alternatively helping customers find you. Now there will be marketeers out there who may say I am oversimplifying and understating mareketings role in life. And they may be right. But for product managers who need to see their products be successful, then marketing needs to simplify get back to basics and remember that:
You target markets You qualify companies You sell to organisations Your products are bought by people
This is the basic flow of going from having a proposition to selling a product. The role of marketing should be to serve and support all points in the process.
Marketing should help to to target markets
Marketing is about figuring out the right markets to address – define where the opportunities lie, qualify and quantify the potential
Marketing qualifies companies
Marketing is about ensuring the the right companies know about your offerings. We understand their business and in their minds they equate their challenges with solutions that we offer
Sell to Organisations
Marketing and sales work closely at this point to ensure that having qualified the type of company, you actually make sure you know exactly what kind of organisations this is. How is it structured, who occupies what roles, where is the Economic Buying Influence
Your Products are Bought By People
At the end of the day people make buying decisions. The selling/buying process is human dynamic. People buy benefits, not products. And this is particularly true of technology and software products. So marketing is there to ensure that we clearly articulate those benefits in language and forms that make sense and are understood by the people to whom we sell.
So next time you are wondering what marketing does or how to spend your marketing dollars, what ever else you do, make sure that your energy and investment in marketing is aligned with a simple process so that you get value for money, target the right customers and sell to people who want what you have.