True marketing is largely misunderstood.
So often when people use the word “marketing” they are really referring to “marketing communications” or “messaging.” Chalk this simplification up to the popularity of Mad Men or, more broadly, that advertising is simply the most visible element of marketing. And while advertising and messaging are very important parts of marketing, they are far from the whole story.
When I talk about marketing, I mean Marketing with a Capital M – which encompasses everything you do to build demand for what you are selling.
In order to achieve marketing’s objective of creating maximum demand, you need more than great ads. You need a single strength that you own, that is meaningful and motivating to your target customer, in the context of that customer’s other choices.
When you have an ownable, meaningful strength like this, it’s called your brand positioning. And done right, brand positioning comes through in every single thing the customer experiences about what you are selling.
The customer experiences your messaging and your ads, certainly, but she takes in a lot more than that as she considers purchasing your product.
Traditionally, there are four “Ps” to marketing: product, price, place and promotion. Every single one of these elements works together to drive demand. If your marketing efforts only include promotion, you’re operating with one limb rather than a full body. You lose a lot of impact and selling power that way.
Let’s look at these elements of marketing in turn:
- Product: No amount of clever promotion, strategic pricing, or convenient placement can sell a product that does not meet a customer need. The most successful products are conceived by marketers with a deep understanding of the customer, and are regularly improved and reinvented to delight that customer.
- Price: Conventional wisdom says demand is driven by lowering prices. However, in certain marketplaces, a higher price can lead to a higher perceived benefit on the part of the customer. A careful marketer consistently gauges competitors and the market and adjusts pricing strategy accordingly.
- Place: Your customer needs to know where and how to buy your product, and it has to be available in a place that dovetails with her need state.
- Promotion: A solid messaging strategy is based on deep customer insights. A marketer pinpoints a target customer’s beliefs and addresses them, either implicitly or explicitly, with messaging.
(For a more in-depth look at the four Ps, check out my white paper on the topic.)
The Capital M
When you marry a unique, actionable brand positioning with a clear strategy including all four Ps, then you’re doing Marketing with a Capital M. Your brand positioning informs the product experience itself, it fuels the price and buying experience, and of course it directs messaging and advertising. Your brand positioning is your North Star for all of your marketing efforts. When it’s locked in, the result for your company is sustainable growth.
So if you are thinking of marketing with a lowercase “m” – as marketing that equals messaging only – you are leaving a whole arsenal behind. When you own a brand positioning and play it out across every avenue of marketing, it comes through on all dimensions, your messaging is that much more powerful, and the bottom line benefits.