The riddle of marketing
‘That which does not kill us, makes us stronger’
In the 18th century Adam Smith laid our foundation for economical sciences. He introduced to us his theory of the invisible hand.
Since manufacturers wish to produce in the most cost efficient matter and consumers wish to purchase products in their desired quality for the cheapest price, an optimal situation occurs according to the theory of the invisible hand. Supply and demand are perfectly balanced in this optimal situation.
Several centuries passed along with more economical philosophers to provide us with tools to further grasp the reality. It’s 2022 and we all work agile, scrum, block chain, six sigma (well, this one actually works), etc. All that glitters is gold in business world.
Business theories and hypes came and went with the wind, but always there remained the enigma of marketing and its secrets. But what is marketing? Lots of corporations seem to have solved this riddle; marketing is Photoshop.
This little jab to corporations is of course an oversimplification of the truth, yet it does contain a grain of truth. When you ask people about marketing and what it encircles, often their explanation would merely focus on promotion. Thus, the communication towards the target audience in order to sell one’s products. People with a broader image of marketing would tell you that it is the execution of the 4 P’s; product, price, promotion, and place.
Understandable, since the marketing mix in the form of the 4 p’s provides corporate people a powerful concept that makes it seem easy to handle. However, what the marketing mix does not consider is customer behaviour, since it’s internally orientated. Customers are deemed passive, relationship building is left out of the equation, and marketers are implied to be the central element.
And that while marketing is meant to be ‘customer-focused management.’ Adam Smith explained it well; marketing is nothing more than a game of supply and demand. The definition of marketing can be stated as: marketing is the combination of all activities needed to fulfil the wishes of your customer.
What do your customers desire?
In other words; find out what your customer desires, even if they don’t know it, and act on it. In the 20th century, Henry Ford had a vision to make cars available for the big audience, for everyone, and he created the assembly line for the biggest cost efficiency. Customers didn’t have other, cheaper options, so famously Henry Ford had to say: ‘customers can choose any color for their ford they want, as long as it’s black.’
Unless your company has the vision to make airplanes or jetpacks available for the big audience, the necessity to act on customers’ desires remains. When customers complain, that’s a perfect opportunity to learn about their desires. Whether a complaint or a negative response hurts your feelings is up to you. But that which does not kill us, makes us learn, makes us overcome, makes us stronger.
The secret of marketing has always carried with it a mystery. You must learn its riddle, Conan…, uh, I mean client. You must learn its discipline. For no one – no one in this world can you trust. Not men, not women, not beasts. But marketing, marketing you can trust.
A Review of Marketing Mix: 4Ps or More?; Chai Lee Goi, 2009
Strategische en operationele marketingplanning – kernstof B; Rustenburg, de Gouw, en de Geus, 2011
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