Friday, September 22, 2006

How do I spot a marketing organisation ?

Its tough to understand what marketing does - everyone has their own take. As you get through working life as a marketer you start seeing a little bit of light; and it becomes important to have some definition - if only to tell other people what you do. I've got a very simple definition - marketing creates sustained value. Since value is really an intangible, perception is really the main "p" marketers should be talking about. The question of sustainability is really important because, in the larger consciousness, perceptions are neither formed quickly - nor retained easily if they are cluttered and noisy. More on the aspect of value later...

Marketing is not really a function - its a discipline. It cant be done by a department - great marketers are not individuals , or even groups. Great marketers are entire organisation. They create a unique value perception that sustains with audiences over time - being reinforced across all touchpoints the organisation has with multiple stakeholders. Great marketers break the blind men with the elephant myth - all participants in the organisations success (employees, customers, shareholders, partners et al) see the entire elephant.

How do you spot the great marketers of our time. To me, there are 4 aspects - whenever you see them coming together salute. You are privileged to meet the rare marketing success - somebody who is being able to do it right, almost all the time.

The first of these is identity. An organisation may represent a single brand or a portfolio of brands. The trick is - does each brand represent a clear identity across time and touchpoint. Does it represent a single unique essence that resonates with its audience ? Do physical characteristics (colour, sound, taste..), values espoused, cultures demonstrated all work to this single essence ?

Lets move on - once you get the sense of identity; look for positioning. This I believe is one of the most abused terms in marketing. Few people seem to have a really clear definition of positioning. This is primarily because it is derived - it forms as a mental picture in the consumer mind; but that is not a definition using which any kind of position can be created. Strongly positioned brands demonstrate in their behaviour and communication an extremely clear articulation of three things - who are they targeting, in what competitive frame of reference they operate and whats their point of difference. Actually, any of these three variables can be used to create unique positions. Credit cards can be differentiated by targeting working women in India. 7 UP differentiated by setting the cola category as a frame of reference. And everybody who cannot differentiate in these two need to articulate a clear point of difference to avoid becoming me too.

So where are we now - we have seen a brand which looks, talks, feels and tastes the same every time we encounter it. The brand is either relevant or not to us because it is sharply positioned. Will this change our perception about it ? Not really because to form a true perception we need to participate in the brands journey in some fashion. This we can only do if it has a relevant Proposition for us. This is fairly simple to identify - and you can pretty much do it just by looking at the advertising. Does every communication contain a specific and actionable proposition - designed to get us to participate in the world of the brand ? If yes, whew - this is somebody doing a real good job.

But hang on - we cant seal the deal yet. Its a difficult world out there and 75% aint good enough. Where's the last mile ? - you guessed it. How good are these guys at campaigns ? Are they taking these propositions we spotted and running them across multiple media and touchpoints to create efficient and effective impact ? Are they running a feedback loop to make in course corrections ? Do they drop a campaign quickly enough if its a bum ? Do they spot winners and flog them the extra mile ? If they've kept the metre ticking till this moment and are doing this as well - maestro ; take a bow.

Have you spotted a marketing organisation yet ? I think I have - but I cant tell. I will - when its mine.


Post a Comment

<< Home