After the response I received from my post on Product Marketing, I decided to go dig this writing up from a couple years ago. I wrote this as a manifesto to myself during a frustrating day at work. I think it bears repeating and publishing now that I have an audience [albeit a small one]. Enjoy!
One of my biggest pet peeves as a marketer is the common misconception that these two words are interchangeable. In reality, advertising is a very small piece of the marketing process and the final step in taking a product or service to market. They’re most often confused because advertising is the one that’s most visible to us as consumers.
Have you ever really thought about what goes into bringing a product or service to market? There’s a reason you purchased that pair of shoes you’re wearing or that great product from Apple you carry around with you or the car you’re driving and I can guarantee it wasn’t JUST a flashy TV advertisement or a promotional discount that was offered at the time of purchase….
Homer Simpson was a terrible marketer
One of my favorite episodes of The Simpsons is the one where Homer finds out that he has a half-brother, Herb, who is the founder of a large automotive company. Through the predictable antics of The Simpsons it’s inevitable that Homer will be charged with bringing a car to market in an effort to save the company.
He does and it fails miserably…. Looking more like a car meant for underwater travel than something for Middle America, Homer threw a bunch of crap he wanted to see in a vehicle. There was no consideration for the marketplace (a true marketer would have been more empathetic to the real customer’s needs) and the value proposition was confusing.
It wasn’t a lack of funding or promotion that made the car fail…. You can only spend so much money promoting something that no one wants.
Could Homer avoid this pitfall by better understanding the marketplace?
In a much more extreme case, a study of the war in Iraq found that 63% of all casualties were coming from the extremely dangerous roadside IED attacks on the traditional Humvee. The need for a vehicle that could withstand the explosion of one of these mines was critical to saving lives in the conflict. Multiple companies went to work fulfilling the demands of the US Military and the end result was the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) Vehicle. By 2004, no troops had died in more than 300 attacks on these vehicles and demand for the MRAP skyrocketed.
While this is an example of a very demanding and well-funded customer (the US Military); the same holds true for consumers everywhere. As great marketers, our job at the most basic level is to:
1) Explore and identify the needs of the marketplace…
2) Put products/services in the pipeline that will satisfy those needs…
3) Effectively promote and distribute to the targeted customers…
By following this fundamental process, the product or service you’re trying to sell will literally fly off of the shelves (although a great sales force and fantastic ads/promotions will surely speed up the process)….
And that my friend is a beautiful thing!