Friday, July 24, 2015

Marketing

I am amazed that many companies, NGO's, institutions of all sorts say that they are marketing oriented/based. All whom I have spoken to are not.

In order to understand marketing one needs to understand the philosophy of business over time. We started as hunter/gatherers, learnt to plant, then domesticated animals and had more than required. So we bartered and soon came the creation of money and we transacted. When the Industrial Revolution came, our philosophy was based on production..make, make, make. Guess what..we became very good at production..so now we started looking at the product. Then came the 1930s and the world market crash. This was the era of sales. After that came marketing and now its societal marketing and beyond.

In Malaysia we are still stuck in production (consumers favor products that are highly available and affordable - cheap, cheap..), product (consumers favor products that offer the most quality, performance, innovation - best in the world you know), or sales (consumers will only purchase products that are promoted to them - push, push, push) philosophy. Maybe there are 1 or 2 companies that actually do marketing but the joke among many is that if your job title is "Marketing Executive," you are a salesman (hey..I was one).

So what is marketing? For me, marketing is
... the determination of the needs and wants of the customer 
and the fulfillment of those needs and wants through a rigorous process 
at a profit to the company.

Marketing has three important components for me. The first is knowing the needs and wants (yes, they are different) of your customer (who they are, etc etc). If you don't know what they need or want, or worst still, you assume that is what they need and want...your business will face problems (of course there are certain external and internal marketing environmental criteria that may make your company grow but at the price of a disgruntled customer - such as growth in birth rate will increase demand for baby products and even though your company is the shittiest company for baby products, you will still make money).

The second part is whether can you fulfill those needs and wants. Do you want to? Do you have a process that can do so for your company? For me, not all customers are kings/queens..some I dont want.

Profit became a dirty word, especially after the Enron scandal. Nevertheless if a business (even a not for profit organization has to make profit!) doesn't make money, how can it continue?

Sales on the other hand is pushing what we have, so that we gain a profit, whether people want the product or not. I have had people who told me that they started a business because they were a good cook. Nothing about whether the customer needed or wanted the product.

The insurance industry tells me it has a wonderful marketing program, but its at best just sales. I am not putting down sales..it is required, but it should not be hidden behind the meaning of marketing. Lets call a spade, a spade. I want an insurance for the cost of burial and its associated ceremonies. All I get is "We have this and that life insurance." Not what I want.

Marketers will hear what the customer wants, go back and see how to get what the customer wants (4Ps) and offer that, if they want those customers, and believe they can make a profit out of it. BTW, I really do want an insurance to cover the cost of death - coffin, burial, food/drinks, prayers over certain period of time - cost a bomb!

In marketing, everything starts and ends with the customer.
Is this practiced in your business?
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