I was asked by a respected colleague from the technology world this question: What is marketing? Mind you, this is a guy who is involved in, and gets marketing. As anyone who works in marketing knows, this is a difficult question to answer. But when I provided some thought on the question, I found that my answer is now longer than it used to be. Hence, I thought I would share it here.
I’ve broken it up into 3 parts. The first in order to provide a baseline definition and context.
General simplified thought: The development, distribution and promotion of products and services to suit a specific audience in order to achieve business objectives.
Unlike what many lay people believe it is neither about selling or advertising, and is much more about business management in totality. Or even more simply, marketing is a fancy word for business.
Marketing Then: The tools of marketing which flowed naturally from this were known as the 4 P’s.
- Product – Solution
- Price – Value equation
- Place – Access
- Promotion – Communication
Historically the job of the marketer has been to strategically organise the 4P’s of marketing (the marketing mix) in order to deliver a sustained commercial outcome between the brand and the audience. But it does feel like this is just not enough…. especially not when all of the factors we deal with are being disrupted via technological revolution.
Marketing Now: If we want to be a great marketer in 2013 then I feel like there is much more to it today. With the process being non-linear all the forces interact more strongly. Our interests need to be broader than that of the marketer from 1950-2000. I feel there are 4 areas we need to be interested in. And only when we are interested in these areas, will we have the intellectual arsenal to develop an effective marketing mix, regardless of which industry we are involved in.
Anthropology: A genuine interest in and study of modern day human movement and historical evolution. The ability to understand and spot patterns based on changing macro behaviour. Being able to see the movement of the collective sentience.
Technology: A solid understanding of where technology is taking us in the medium term. Not just understanding how to use what has already arrived, but knowing what is coming next. Knowing the implications of disposable technology, ambient computing and internet everywhere. Believing in this and integrating it into everything you market. In an age of exponential change there is no choice.
Finance: A solid understanding of what makes industries and the economy function. A financial brand which goes beyond COGS (Cost of goods sold) and marketing budget parameters. We need to be adept in raising capital, investing and ratio analysis…. all forms of finance are integral in what A grade marketers need to know.
Commerce: A true understanding in the art of connections. The why and how do certain parties transact with each other. How are they connecting now, and how will they connect tomorrow. It goes beyond distribution points and pricing models. It digs deep into need scopes and relative utility. It’s the real side of human interaction where commerce facilitates life goals and money is just the way we keep track of who is doing what.
A lot of this might sound meta physical, and it is. But like all forms of evolution, new layers get added – and these four elements are the layers which will define how the successful entrepreneurs and business people of tomorrow need to think.