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Marketing has had a long history of being misunderstood for a lot of things. Some think it is all about selling, some consider advertising to be the crux of marketing while some others might equate it with developing and implementing manipulative strategies. In this short article I wish to talk about what marketing really is from what I know of it rather than go around debunking all these misconceptions. This is going to be a casual conversation.

Philip Kotler, the author of Marketing Management, put it across quite succinctly,

“Marketing is not the art of finding clever ways to dispose of what you make. Marketing is the art of creating genuine customer value. It is the art of helping your customer become better off.”

In very simple terms, marketing can be considered as the process of creating value and capturing value in return. At the heart of this entire activity are the people or the consumers around whose needs and wants a product or service is created, who in turn pay the company or brand for the said product or service and who eventually talk good/bad about the company’s offerings to other people. That’s it, if you understand this then you understand what lies at the heart of marketing. Advertising, Sales, Branding, PR, Market Research, etc. all form different branches under the parent umbrella of Marketing.

Now about some fundamentals of marketing. The three main processes under marketing are that of Segmentation, Targeting and Positioning. Segmentation deals with dividing the market into a niche that you would want to cater to i.e. the right people, you can do this via demographic, psychographic or behavioural segmentation. Targeting is then all about understanding this segment well enough so as to send them the right message at the right time. Positioning makes use of perceptual mapping to find out gaps in the market so as to take a profitable position for a brand and to carve out a unique space in its audience’s minds. The 4Ps of the Marketing Mix which form its pillars are Place, Price, Product and Promotion. In recent times 3 more Ps have been added to these - People, Process and Physical Evidence. If you get all these basics right then a company’s offering should be good enough so that it actually sells itself thus making the marketing process seem like a well oiled machine.

As Peter Drucker’s simple idea about the objective of marketing states,

“The aim of marketing is to make selling superfluous.”

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The traditional vs. digital marketing gap that exists today is most likely going to disappear in the future so that it is all just considered as simply Marketing. Nevertheless, this division helps marketers today to effectively target their potential customers. In a country like India traditional marketing plays a big role when you have to target a mass market spanning the length and breadth of the country. If your audience is spread across the Tier 1, 2 and 3 cities and your company’s offering caters to a wider socio-economic demographic then buying television slots during the IPL final makes much more financial sense than running ads over Google Display Network in all of those territories. Conversely, if your brand is local and caters to only a specific set of audiences around a location then it’s better to explore the narrow geographic targeting options available on Facebook. The same goes for the level of tech savviness exhibited by your audience, if your product is an app for smartphones then it is better to target your audience over the internet using the device segmentation options rather than waste money on print ads which covers a much broader audience. These are just a few examples to illustrate the pros and cons of the available marketing options and the final media plan of a typical brand usually includes a combination of both traditional and digital channels.

A standard marketing funnel consists of the following stages - Awareness, Consideration, Decision and Delight. These stages map out the buying journey of a consumer and it is important for marketers to understand how a brand interacts with its audience at each of these stages. Important thing to notice here is that not all of your audience will convert into customers except only a fraction of it but all the customers who do convert will most likely have gone through the various stages of the marketing funnel before converting.

Photo from clariantcreative.com

Recently I came across a new kind of funnel that is being popularised by a Digital Marketing veteran and trainer from India (digitaldeepak.com) which is framed as the CATT Marketing funnel. Focussed on wealth creation through content marketing, his formula states that wealth = n^CATT where n is the Niche which decides the success of your marketing, C is the content you create for your niche, A is the attention you drive to this content, T is the trust you build with your audience over time and finally T stands for the transaction when a part of the audience converts into paying customers.

Deepak’s digital marketing strategy follows an integrated framework centred around creating valuable content which then gets utilised for other channels like Email marketing, Paid adverting, SEO, Social Media, etc. This approach is in sync with the predictions made by a lot of marketing gurus that the future of marketing is more and more becoming all about content. He also advocates a MassTrust blueprint that follows the stages of Learning, Working, Blogging, Consulting, Mentoring and Creating a Startup to build a personal brand online. Personal brands have risen a lot in popularity and demand in the last few years and if you are trying to be an effective and successful digital marketer then building your personal brand online should be the first step you should focus on. As they say, the best known always beats the best.

Marketing is a fascinating subject to say the least. This article was simply meant to be a brief introduction to the subject. There are many books available in the market on marketing (duh..) but I would personally recommend starting with Philip Kotler’s Principles of Marketing which is like the Bible for marketing students. You could also read about the study Zero Moment of Truth published by Google.

If you are already a marketer or a brand manager and are looking to add depth to your digital marketing activities then you can also read the book Existential Digital Marketing written by yours truly which discusses developing an existential authenticity for brands. It chiefly talks about treating a brand as an independent being, an end it itself rather than simply as a means to an end, to then create a truly unique identity of its own.

That’s it for now. I hope you found value in this article, do let me know your views if you feel like.

If you are a small business owner, you can also check out this blog.

Until next time.

always a work in progress..