It always bothers me when people outside a discipline believe that Advertising and Marketing is trivially simple. Both Advertising and Marketing is challenging and needs discipline to achieve results. Very few people understand it. Those who don't, almost always fail. Even a lot of the people who do, still fail at it!
I met Charles, a good friend of mine from The Caribbean. He is a successful businessman and the last time when we met some eleven months ago, we had an exciting discussion over Advertising campaigns and branding products. Charles has inherited his family business of manufacturing carbonated soft drinks. He believes that Marketing is simply advertising the product on TV and giving discounts in order to generate sales figures. Whereas the fact is;
Marketing is a lot of inter-related things. Including:
Each one of those components is very challenging. Larger organizations tend to have different people work on each of them, because so few people are good at more than one, and almost no one is good at all of them. Unfortunately, good people tend to get promoted to positions of higher responsibility, and as the saying goes, when the only tool you have is a hammer, all problems start looking like nails -- they try to compensate for weaknesses in some areas with more concentration on the part that they know how to do. This extends to kibitzers from other disciplines: they think they can solve the problem by just doing this one thing, without considering the larger context. Before you convince yourself that you can solve situations with better advertising, do the analysis and convince yourself that the advertising is really the problem. If a product is positioned wrong, all the advertising in the world won't make it a success.
Products fail in the marketplace all the time because of fatal flaws in one of these marketing components. Often in technology markets, it takes multiple iterations of a product to fine-tune not only the product, but also the market analysis, product planning, positioning, advertising and PR so that they are on-target. And it's even more difficult because the marketplaces don't stand still: competitors change their offerings, and customers go through economic cycles and changes in their own business needs.
Just to be clear, I'm not a marketing expert and would never claim to be. I started as a freelance photographer 15 years ago, making print and broadcast materials for a living. I spent several years struggling and eventually worked my way over to become a Marketing Manager in one of the finest companies in The Caribbean.
Marketing is a challenging discipline which requires both theoretical and practical knowledge. Just as marketing people should respect technical people, technical people should respect marketing people. I think in the long run one of the most important business lessons that people will take is that when you put sharp technical people and sharp marketing people together and things click, you can create a very, very profitable business.
Contributed by: Mohinder Pal Singh
Date: March 15, 2010