Are We Just Splitting Marketing Hairs?
Ok, I admit it, in a lot of ways, I’m an “old soul”.
I love the charm of old buildings, the design of craftsman furniture and the comfort associated with traditional foods on a cold and rainy day. So you can imagine my increasing dismay at claims such as “Traditional Marketing is Dead”, “Consumers Have Shut off Traditional Marketing” and the one that really pulls my heart out just a little: “Traditional Marketing Talks at People, Relationship Marketing Talks with them.”
My position would be that marketing, whether dubbed traditional or cutting edge or whatever new buzz word you chose, is, and always has been essentially the same. Rather, what evolves are our tools.
This past week I spent some time thinking about and researching this concept, no doubt if you follow me on Twitter you’ll see the theme and some links to my references. The well-meaning owners of these quotes and I would no doubt then begin what can only be called an argument of splitting hairs.
I like to think my “modern” counterparts and I could agree that marketing, as a classic definition, is putting the right product in the right place, at the right price, at the right time: The 4 Ps. Or perhaps better said the 4Ps are: Product (or Service), Place, Price. Promotion. Agree? Agree. Heads nod and onward we go.
Product: What does the customer want from the product/service? What needs does it satisfy? Needs and wants of our customers is nothing new. (Score 1 for Traditional Marketing!) Our ability to research and understand products and services has gotten much better, but the premise is the same: you have to know where your product fits, who your competitors are, what do they do better than you, and assuming you have no direct competitors, what is the next best alternative your customers will consider.
Place: Where do your customers look for your product? Where do they expect to make a purchase? The landscape here is definitely much different for me than it was even for my grandmother (Hello, Amazon Prime? I think I love you.) However the premise is still the same. My grandmother purchased her goods from a small town set of specialty stores. She’d make her list, go to town every few days, make several stops for a variety of items before returning home. I toss things into my virtual shopping cart in real time, much faster than I could even make a list (even with digital tools to help). My coveted goods ship within a few hours and are often on my door the next day. But, whether you were marketing to my grandmother or to me, you would need to understand our shopping habits. (2-0 Traditional Marketing, not that I’m keeping score*)
Price: What is the value of the product or service to the buyer†? There are a variety of pricing strategies around, and this may be the one area where there are pricing strategies that don’t fit just one traditional model. (Yea, yea, so I can’t win every point.) But regardless of which strategy is chosen (cost-recovery, high-low, loss-leader, premium, predatory, to name literally just a few) you need one, and it needs to be solid. (We’ll call this one a push.)
Promotion: Where and when can you get your marketing messages to your target market? This is probably where the argument would get most interesting, because saying that the promotional channels have changed is pretty much the understatement of the blog-o-sphere. Today’s channels don’t even look like their predecessors. Content management as a practice has all but changed the way consumers research their products. Social media allows bad service to wrap the globe and do its damage in just a few hours, but, hopefully you’re anticipating where I’d make my point here. The act of promotion – placing your messaging into the market place – has not changed. Doing it well, and leveraging the best channels, in the most effective way, is still the best approach, even if those channels move faster than you can draft your social media plan.
So to conclude our argument, let’s instead take the opening quotes and change them as follows:
Traditional Marketing is NOT dead. Marketing is a practice and as time evolves, we get better.
Consumers Have Shut off Marketing that Doesn’t Speak to Them. Understand your product, understand your customer then, simply introduce them to each other at the right time.
All Marketing Needs to be Relationship Marketing. You and your customer want to be in this beyond the transaction, further many transactions require nurturing and growth over time.
Here’s where I’ll be next week. Come by and say hello, or better yet drop me a note to set up a one-on-one!
*I always keep score. Even against myself.
† This P probably should become a V, but 3 P’s and a V just doesn’t have the same ring.