What Should Marketing Be?
Traditional marketing theory promotes the four Ps: Product, Price, Promotion, and Place. I suggest that this definition focuses on what marketing does or how it is carried out, but it does not spell the purpose of marketing, the why. Let me try and use an analogy to deliver this insight.
How do we get wheat? First, we must have a level ground where we are going to grow the grain. Then we must plow, fertilize, irrigate, and seed the field so the wheat can grow and eventually be harvested.
For me, marketing is preparing the ground so the seeds can grow on fertile land, and we can eventually have a harvest. Harvest on the other hand is analogous to successful sales.
Why preparing the ground is important?
When a person buys something, they know its cost but not its full value: whether or not it will satisfy their need. Thus, there is uncertainty and risk. The role of marketing, is to reduce the perception of uncertainty and risk. This is done by developing a brand.
When I buy a Boss suit, a Ferrari, or a Mercedes, good marketing has convinced me to trust the brand. It reduces my perceived uncertainty and risk. I don’t have to worry like I would if I were buying a knock-off product from an unrecognizable brand whose quality I can’t trust.
You go to a doctor’s office, go to the bathroom, and it’s dirty. Would you trust this doctor? What if the doctor wears dirty clothes and is generally unkempt? How about the supplier who sends messy invoices or doesn’t promptly answer calls? It increases your uncertainty, decreases your trust, and, thus, impacts your willingness to buy or be served.
To reduce negative perception, marketing should monitor anything that impacts customers’ uncertainty and risk. Is quality control thorough, are the invoices correct, is customer service well done? Anything that negatively impacts the clients’ confidence must be fixed. This does not mean that the whole company should report to marketing, only that marketing should track everything that affects the brand and raise hell if it is substandard.