The way through the Marketing Labyrinth

Marketing Labyrinth
Can anybody raise their hand and honestly say – I am on top of the latest marketing trends? The risk is that you can´t see the forest for the trees anymore. Or in other words, you may get lost in the labyrinth.

TTo start with, there are, of course, the traditional marketing functions: from operations, channels, the mix, marketing research to marketing finance, etc. This in itself is complex enough to handle as it is.

Additionally, there are different types of marketing, and every day they seem to increase in number, variety and specialisation. A quick look online reveals a rough average of about 130 types:
Types of marketing

Business-to-consumer, business-to-business pull-and push, horizontal and vertical, affiliative and affinity, collaborative, luxury, internet, viral, ecommerce and mobile, offline, inbound and outbound, social media, drip , guerrilla, referral, buzz, stealth, neuro …. The sky seems the limit.

So, how can we find our way through this marketing labyrinth?

Rather than starting at the back end of innovations in the field, make sure you don´t forget the front end: The customer.
Marketing customer

Too banal?

Not. Because there are many ways that organisations can err and get off-track. Some do “red ocean” marketing and simply differentiate themselves against the competition. Where is the customer in that?

Another risk is getting “stuck in the middle” and trying to be everything to everybody in the marketing strategy, as Porter demonstrated already in the late seventies. Here, the customer will undoubtedly haggle for price reductions, as the battle for perceived “value” was never entered into.

And there are still too many companies who apply the classic marketing segmentation based on demographic profiling when clearly consumer behaviours have been changing drastically – there is no longer a guarantee for consistency in purchasing decisions.

This is why you see affluent people pull up in their high-end luxury cars in the parking lot of discounter stores to do their weekly grocery shopping. Or likewise you may witness a person on a budget splurge out on a high-end designer piece.

Customer needs

The very best, tried-and tested approach is still to understand the consumer’s needs and interests better than the customer may understand these themselves. As long as human beings are in charge of their own purchasing decisions, this requires the following structured approach:

  1. Being willing and able to dig deeper and create a personalised psychological profile for the buying process of each customer (or each customer group that has identical needs and interests) across all touchpoints of the customer journey. Why should the customer buy?
  2. Closing the loop with internal processes and align all internal decision-makers to ensure the integration of customer motivations into an overall organisational strategy that is truly customer-driven (rather than pursuing merely a “marketing strategy”), to ensure its flawless execution.
  3. An ongoing assessment and adjustment that reflects the constantly changing customer needs. This requires KPI´s that support the customer experience every step of the way.

So, instead of looking at old wine poured into new bottles and getting lost in the labyrinth of marketing types, make yourself go back to the basics. As Guy Kawasaki has said so many times: make “meaning” for your customers, and don´t just try to “make money”.

Because with meaning the money and return on your investment will come, and you will be able to get through the marketing labyrinth successfully. And, in the process, you are likely to make even your CFO very happy. And she or he is the one who will ultimately sign off on the funds for your next projects…

Author: Angelika Bergmann