The Changed Face of Marketing

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In 1953, almost 60 years ago, in his American Marketing Association presidential address, Professor Neil Borden of Harvard Business School, introduced the term “marketing mix” and in 1960 E. Jerome McCarthy supplemented that concept with the 4 P’s of Marketing. Ever since then, every student of marketing has learned the 4 P’s of marketing; Product, Pricing, Promotion, Placement. In recent years, and not for the first time, these once-seen as fundamental concepts are coming under scrutiny in the wake of a dramatically altered landscape.

The reality is that consumers shop differently than they did 50 years ago and expect different things from your brand. First, consumers want to learn about your product on their time. Traditional push, top-down, or inside-out oriented marketing from the marketing department that interrupts a consumer experience is ineffective. Think TiVo, iPod, pop-up blockers. Sure, they’ll consume your media – when they want to – not when it is pushed on them. Why don’t commercials get TiVo’d during the Super Bowl? It is part of the experience, for some it is the most important experience, of watching the Super Bowl.

Secondly, consumers expect to find unbiased reviews of your product from friends, or random people on the internet. Google, as a search engine and as a tremendous source for insights, captures the interaction between your brand or product category and consumers. Do not be surprised to find just about anyone saying just about anything about your brand – regardless of whether you have a website or not. Most major brands already understand this and have joined the conversations and are listening, if for no other reason, market insights.

Thirdly, consumers want to participate. This is really getting back to filling a core emotional need. Sure, not every one of Kraft customers wants to engage with kraftfoods on the internet and join that community but some do. This coveted group of customers represent “The One Number You Need to Know”, your evangelists. In essence, these people are your free sales force and finding the right tools to engage them will increase sales, relevance, loyalty, and generate amazing consumer insights.

Fourth, they want bite-size chunks. Consumers want to try before they buy. In August 2000, when you could download an entire song for free on Napster, CD sales were up 8% from the previous year. The next year, after Napster was shut down, sales were down 8%. People could not sample the music any more. This principle is also found in a really great book authored by Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba titled “Creating Customer Evangelist”, another highly recommended holiday read.

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