As 2023 approaches our inboxes start to fill with predictions of the next big thing coming in the year ahead. If the past three years taught us anything, it's that nobody really knows wtf is going to happen. Add a few generic platitudes, little real-world usefulness, and the whole futurist pursuit seems rather pointless.
Which is why it's time for the anti-trends trends. The Top 10 things in marketing that are not going to change. The marketing activities that should you do them, your competition will be wondering what happened to all the shiny new things they chased all the way into marketing and career oblivion. The good news is that you don't even need to do them well. You just need to do them.
Who are these 'trends' for?
I recently completed a Marketing MBA by Mark Ritson, formerly a marketing professor at MIT, London Business School, and Melbourne Business School. He also practiced marketing for decades, most notably at LVMH (B2C) and with global healthcare brands (B2B). Prof. Ritson presented a simple framework to organize marketing management, which formed the basis of the course.
The framework includes ten core elements of a mature marketing function. If you're a classically trained marketer, or had the good fortune to graduate into one of the CPG/FMCG powerhouse marketing training programs (e.g., P&G), none of this will be news to you. If however you didn't study marketing in college or haven't yet worked with a well-trained marketing team, my hope is that you find this post helpful in accelerating your career in 2023.
These are the fundamentals. Proportionally few marketers have a good grasp of the content. This is your competitive advantage.
1. Go-to-market orientation
Start with understanding the go-to-market orientation of your employer (or client if you're in an agency) and the impact that has on your strategic marketing decisions. There are four common orientations:
- Product oriented
- Sales oriented
- Advertising oriented
- Market oriented
Three of those are "inside-out" perspectives. Only one is focused on the market and the customer. That is, "outside-in."
Product Orientation is common to R&D and engineering organizations. It is characterized by a belief that the company makes amazing products or delivers exceptional services, that they lead the market, and consumers follow that lead. The role of marketing is to educate and make the customer see how great the product/service is—rather than to understand what the customer thinks or needs.
Sales Orientation is common in revenue-focused organizations, rather than those that are profit-focused. Characteristics include a belief that more products are better, that any customer is a good customer, and that they don’t need to understand customers or adjust process to meet market needs. Marketing’s role is to support sales. More enablement please ...
Advertising Orientation is common in large B2C brands and is characterized by creative advertising rather than effective advertising. It is also arguably the most expensive and least effective go-to-market perspective, especially if you believe advertising is a "weak force."
Market orientation is a business strategy in which a company focuses on understanding and meeting the needs of its customers. This approach is based on the idea that a company will be more successful if it can identify and anticipate customer needs, and then respond to those needs more effectively than its competitors.
To summarize Prof. Ritson:
“Market driven,” “customer centric,” “customer obsessed” companies design their processes, people capabilities, and growth investments to align with market needs. They think in terms of value-based solutions rather than products, alternatives rather than competition, perception rather than positioning, and understand that every customer interaction with the company is “marketing.” Companies with a market orientation typically grow faster and are more profitable.
But reversing an inside-out world-view to a market orientation is not an easy task. Unfortunately, the change often happens only when the firm faces an existential crisis.
In their paper Creating a Market Orientation: A Longitudinal, Multifirm, Grounded Analysis of Cultural Transformation, Gary F. Gebhardt, Gregory S. Carpenter, and John F. Sherry Jr. argue that creating a market orientation requires cultural transformation.
According to the authors, this cultural transformation requires a commitment from top management, as well as a clear understanding of the market and the needs of customers. The process also involves training employees to think in a customer-oriented way, and creating systems and processes that support this shift in focus.
In addressing the change management requirement and their recommended model to achieve success, they write:
Market orientation is a foundation of marketing and is increasingly important in other fields, such as strategic management. The model identifies four path-dependent stages of change. In contrast to current conceptualizations, creating a market orientation requires dramatic changes to an organization’s culture and the creation of organizationally shared market understandings.
Overall, the authors suggest that creating a market orientation can be a challenging process, but one that can ultimately lead to greater success for the company. By understanding and meeting the needs of customers, a company can gain a competitive advantage and increase its profitability.
Why corporate G2M orientation matters for marketers
This is more than a theoretical exercise, and it is probable that you work in a product or sales oriented organization. An easy way to tell if it's the former is to ask for the research and insights that demonstrate there's a market need and want for the solution you're being asked to market. If it doesn't exist, product oriented. You need to decide whether you're job is to fit in, or be an agent of change. Remember, market oriented firms typically grow faster and are more profitable.
Backward market research is a research method in which a company starts with the desired outcome of a marketing campaign and works backwards to gather the necessary data and information. This approach is in contrast to traditional market research, which typically involves starting with a research question or problem and collecting data to answer that question or solve the problem.
In his Harvard Business Review paper, Cost-Conscious Marketing Research, Allan R. Andreasen explains that backward market research can be useful in situations where a company has a specific marketing goal in mind, but is not sure how to achieve that goal. By starting with the desired outcome and working backwards, the company can identify the key data and information that it needs to collect in order to develop an effective marketing strategy.
For example, if a company wants to increase sales of a particular product, it might use backward market research to identify the target customer demographic, the best channels for reaching that demographic, and the messaging and branding that will be most effective in persuading them to buy the product.
Overall, backward market research can be a useful tool for companies that want to be proactive and strategic in their marketing efforts, rather than simply reacting to market trends and customer behavior. By starting with the desired outcome and working backwards, a company can gather the necessary data and information to develop a targeted and effective marketing campaign.
Market segmentation is the process of dividing a market into smaller groups of customers with similar needs or characteristics. This allows companies to tailor their products, services, and marketing messages to better meet the needs of specific groups of customers.
To practically segment the market, a company can use a variety of factors to identify and define different segments. For example, a company that sells shoes might segment its market based on demographic characteristics such as age, gender, and income. It might also consider other factors such as customer behavior (e.g. how often they purchase shoes) and preferences (e.g. style and type of shoe).
Once the segments have been identified, the company can then create profiles for each segment. These profiles should include key characteristics of the segment, such as the segment's size, growth potential, and buying behavior. The profiles should also include information on the segment's needs and preferences, as well as any unique challenges or opportunities that the company might face in serving that segment.
It's important for the segments to be homogeneous within each segment, meaning that the customers within a segment should have similar needs and characteristics. This makes it easier for the company to tailor its products and marketing messages to the specific needs of the segment.
At the same time, the segments should also be heterogeneous, meaning that the different segments should have distinct and unique characteristics. This allows the company to differentiate its products and marketing messages for each segment, and to avoid competition with other segments.
Finally, it's important to consider the concept of spillover between segments. This occurs when a marketing message or campaign that is targeted at one segment also resonates with customers in other segments. This can be a positive outcome, as it allows the company to reach a wider audience without having to create separate marketing messages for each segment. However, it can also create competition between segments, as customers in one segment may respond more favorably to a message that was intended for another segment.
Marketing targeting is the process of selecting specific groups of customers that a company believes it can serve most effectively. This is different from market segmentation, which involves dividing a market into smaller groups of customers with similar needs or characteristics.
According to Chapter 3 "Where to Play" from Roger Martin's book Playing to Win, there are several key steps in the process of marketing targeting. First, the company must define its target customers by identifying the specific segments that it believes it can serve most effectively. This requires a deep understanding of the market, the customers, and the company's own capabilities.
Next, the company must define its value proposition, which is the unique and compelling offer that it will make to its target customers. This value proposition should be tailored to the specific needs and preferences of the target customers, and should be differentiated from the offers of competitors.
Finally, the company must choose the right channels for reaching its target customers. This might include traditional marketing channels such as advertising and direct mail, as well as digital channels such as social media and online advertising.
Overall, marketing targeting is an important step in the process of developing an effective marketing strategy. By identifying the specific segments of customers that the company can serve most effectively, and by creating a tailored and differentiated value proposition for those segments, a company can increase its relevance and appeal to customers.
Marketing positioning is the process of creating a unique and compelling value proposition for a company's products or services. This involves differentiating the company's offerings from those of its competitors, and positioning them in a way that resonates with target customers.
April Dunford, author of the book Obviously Awesome, developed a framework for marketing positioning. The framework involves four key steps: understanding the market, defining the target customers, defining the competitors, and defining the value proposition.
First, the company must understand the market by identifying the key segments and their needs, preferences, and behaviors. This requires a deep understanding of the market and the customers.
Next, the company must define its target customers by identifying the specific segments that it believes it can serve most effectively. This requires a clear understanding of the company's own capabilities and strengths.
Third, the company must define its competitors by identifying the other companies that are offering similar products or services to the same target customers. This requires a thorough analysis of the competitive landscape.
Finally, the company must define its value proposition, which is the unique and compelling offer that it will make to its target customers. This value proposition should be tailored to the specific needs and preferences of the target customers, and should be differentiated from the offers of competitors.
Here are three examples of marketing positioning from companies in different industries:
- Amazon, a company in the e-commerce industry, has positioned itself as the "everything store" that offers a wide range of products at competitive prices. This positions Amazon as a convenient and cost-effective option for consumers who want to shop for a wide variety of products in one place.
- Tesla, a company in the automotive industry, has positioned itself as a leader in electric and self-driving cars. This positions Tesla as a cutting-edge and innovative option for consumers who want to reduce their environmental impact and enjoy the latest technology.
- Peloton, a company in the fitness industry, has positioned itself as a provider of high-quality home fitness equipment and virtual classes. This positions Peloton as a convenient and effective option for consumers who want to get fit without having to go to the gym.
Bonus: Perceptual Maps
Perceptual maps and multidimensional scaling are tools that companies can use to visualize and analyze the positioning of their products or services in the market. These tools can help a company understand how its products are perceived by customers, and how they compare to the offerings of competitors.
Perceptual maps are graphical representations of the market, showing the relative positioning of different products or services based on key attributes or dimensions. These dimensions could include factors such as price, quality, or features. The position of each product or service on the map is based on the perceptions of customers or potential customers.
For example, a perceptual map for the smartphone market might include dimensions such as price, battery life, and camera quality. The position of each smartphone on the map would reflect the perceptions of customers or potential customers in terms of these dimensions.
Multidimensional scaling is a statistical technique that can be used to create a perceptual map. This technique involves collecting data on the perceptions of customers or potential customers, and then using that data to create a map that shows the relative positioning of different products or services.
Overall, perceptual maps and multidimensional scaling are useful tools for companies that want to understand the positioning of their products or services in the market. By visualizing the perceptions of customers, companies can identify strengths and weaknesses, and develop strategies for improving their positioning in the market.
6. Setting Objectives
To set marketing goals, a company should follow the steps outlined in How to Develop Strategy for Execution by Donald Sull, Stefano Turconi, Charles Sull, and James Yoder, published by MITSloan Management Reivew. These steps include:
- Identify the company's strategic objectives, which are the long-term goals that the marketing efforts are meant to support.
- Develop a clear and specific target for the marketing efforts, such as increasing sales by a certain amount or improving customer satisfaction.
- Choose the right metrics for measuring progress towards the target, such as revenue or customer satisfaction scores.
- Develop a plan for achieving the target, including specific actions and resources that will be required.
- Monitor progress regularly, and adjust the plan as needed to ensure that the target is achieved.
My preferred way to set marketing objectives is use SMART goals. It is old school, but works. Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound.
For example, a SMART goal for a marketing campaign might be to "increase sales of Product X by 10% in the next quarter by targeting customers in the 25-35 age range through Facebook and Instagram advertising." This goal is specific (it targets a specific product and customer segment), measurable (it targets a specific increase in sales), attainable (the target increase in sales is realistic), relevant (the target customer segment is relevant to the product), and time-bound (it targets a specific time period).
7. Marketing Mix: Product
The marketing mix is a framework for developing a marketing strategy introduced by E. Jerome McCarthy in 1960. It is commonly referred to as the 4Ps: Product, Price, Place, and Promotion.
The Product part of the marketing mix refers to the goods or services that a company offers to its customers. A product can be a physical item, such as a car or a toaster, or it can be a service, such as a haircut or a massage.
To develop a product, a company can use the Jobs to Be Done framework, which was introduced by Clayton Christensen, Taddy Hall, Karen Dillon, and David Duncan in their paper Know your customers' jobs to be done. This framework suggests that customers don't just buy products, they "hire" them to do a specific job. For example, a customer might hire a hammer to hang a picture on the wall, or hire a hotel to provide a place to sleep during a trip.
To develop a product using the Jobs to Be Done framework, a company should start by identifying the specific job that the product will be hired to do. This requires understanding the needs and preferences of the target customers, and the challenges and opportunities that the product will need to address.
Next, the company should develop a product that is well-suited to the job that it will be hired to do. This might involve creating a product with the right features, performance, and quality to meet the needs of the target customers.
Finally, the company should test the product with potential customers to ensure that it meets their needs and preferences. This might involve conducting market research or running pilot programs to gather feedback and make adjustments as needed.
Overall, the Jobs to Be Done framework is a useful tool for developing products that are tailored to the specific needs and preferences of target customers. By understanding the job that the product will be hired to do, and by creating a product that is well-suited to that job, a company can increase its relevance and appeal to customers.
8. Marketing Mix: Price
The Price part of the marketing mix refers to the amount that a customer must pay to acquire a product or service. Price is a key factor in the marketing mix, as it can influence a customer's decision to purchase a product, and it can also impact the profitability of a company.
In their paper Principles of Pricing, Robert Dolan and John Gourville explain that companies can use various strategies and techniques to set the right price for their products or services. One key consideration is the relationship between price and profitability. For example, a small increase in price can lead to a significant increase in profitability, if it doesn't significantly impact the demand for the product.
Price, pricing, and price setting
Price, pricing, and price setting are related but distinct concepts in marketing.
Price refers to the amount that a customer must pay to acquire a product or service. This is the fundamental unit of exchange in a market, and it can be influenced by various factors such as supply and demand, competition, and the value that the product or service provides to the customer.
Pricing, on the other hand, refers to the process of determining the price of a product or service. This process involves analyzing various factors that can influence the price, such as the cost of production, the value provided to the customer, and the prices of competing products or services.
Price setting, meanwhile, refers to the specific decision about what price to set for a product or service. This decision is based on the analysis of the factors that can influence the price, and it is often influenced by the company's objectives, such as maximizing profitability or gaining market share.
Overall, the difference between price, pricing, and price setting is that price is the amount that a customer must pay, pricing is the process of determining that amount, and price setting is the specific decision about what that amount will be. These concepts are interrelated, and they are critical to the success of a company's marketing efforts.
How to set prices
The Van Westendorp price sensitivity matrix is a survey tool that uses a set of questions to gather information about customers' perceptions of a product's price. This information can then be used to identify the optimal price for the product.
The survey question set for the Van Westendorp price sensitivity matrix includes four key questions:
- At what price would the product be so expensive that you would not consider buying it?
- At what price would the product be priced so low that you would question the quality of the product?
- At what price would you consider the product to be a bargain – a great buy for the money?
- At what price would you consider the product to be starting to get expensive, but still reasonable?
These questions are designed to gather information about customers' perceptions of a product's value and quality at different price points. By analyzing the responses to these questions, a marketer can identify the price range where the product is perceived to be high-value and high-quality, and therefore the optimal price for the product.
For example, let's say that a marketer is using the Van Westestorp price sensitivity matrix to set the price for a new smartphone. After conducting the survey, the marketer finds that the responses to the four questions are as follows:
- The most expensive price that customers would consider for the smartphone is $800.
- The lowest price that customers would consider for the smartphone is $500.
- The price at which customers consider the smartphone to be a bargain is $650.
- The price at which customers consider the smartphone to be starting to get expensive is $700.
Based on these responses, the marketer can conclude that the optimal price for the smartphone is between $650 and $700. This is the price range where the product is perceived to be high-value and high-quality, and therefore the most likely to generate sales.
Overall, the Van Westendorp price sensitivity matrix is a useful tool for marketers to set the optimal price for a product. By gathering information about customers' perceptions of a product's value and quality at different price points, marketers can identify the price range where the product is most likely to generate sales.
How to communicate price changes
Marketers need to be careful and thoughtful when communicating price changes to customers. According to Mark Ritson, price changes can be a sensitive issue for customers, and the way that a marketer communicates these changes can have a big impact on the customer's perception of the product or service.
Ritson emphasizes the importance of being transparent and honest when communicating price changes. He suggests that marketers should explain the reasons for the price change, and how the new price reflects the value that the product or service provides to the customer.
Ritson also advises marketers to avoid making price changes without a clear strategy or plan. He argues that sudden or unexpected price changes can be disruptive and confusing for customers, and they can damage the trust and loyalty that the customer has in the company.
Overall, the way that a marketer communicates price changes to customers is an important factor in maintaining the customer's trust and loyalty. By being transparent, honest, and strategic in their communications, marketers can minimize the negative impact of price changes and maintain a positive relationship with their customers.
9. Marketing Mix: Integrated Marketing Communications (Promotion)
The Promotion element of the 4P marketing mix refers to the activities and tools that a company uses to communicate with its target audience and persuade them to buy its products or services. Promotion is an important part of the marketing mix, as it helps a company to reach and engage with its customers, and to build a positive image and reputation.
There are various tools and activities that companies can use to promote their products or services. These include advertising, public relations, sales promotions, direct marketing, and personal selling. Each of these tools has its own strengths and limitations, and companies can use a combination of these tools to create a holistic and effective promotion strategy.
Advertising is a paid form of communication that uses various media, such as television, radio, print, and online, to reach a large audience. Advertising can be a powerful tool for promoting products or services, as it allows companies to reach a large number of potential customers quickly and efficiently. However, advertising can also be expensive, and it can be difficult to measure its effectiveness.
Public relations, on the other hand, is a non-paid form of communication that uses various channels, such as media relations, community relations, and influencer marketing, to create a positive image and reputation for a company and its products or services. Public relations can be a valuable tool for promoting a company, as it can generate positive media coverage and word-of-mouth buzz. However, public relations can be difficult to control and measure, and it can be subject to external factors such as changes in the media landscape.
Sales promotions are short-term incentives that are designed to encourage customers to buy a product or service. Sales promotions can include discounts, coupons, free trials, and other offers. Sales promotions can be a effective way to generate immediate sales, but they can also create price sensitivity and customer expectations for future promotions.
Direct marketing is a form of communication that is directed at individual customers or prospects. Direct marketing can include tools such as direct mail, email, and telemarketing. Direct marketing can be a highly effective way to reach and engage with specific customers, but it can also be intrusive and costly.
Integrated Marketing Communications
Integrated marketing communications is a holistic approach to marketing that involves coordinating and aligning all of a company's communication channels and messages to create a consistent, cohesive brand experience for customers. This approach allows companies to effectively reach and engage with customers, and to build strong, long-term relationships with them.
The media mix is a key component of integrated marketing communications. This is the combination of different communication channels that a company uses to reach and engage with its target audience. The media mix can include various channels, such as advertising, public relations, events, social media, and direct marketing.
For a B2C (business-to-consumer) company, the media mix might include a combination of advertising, social media, and events. For example, a B2C company that sells outdoor clothing and equipment might use television and online ads to reach a broad audience, social media to engage with customers and build a community, and events such as outdoor festivals or workshops to create experiential marketing opportunities.
For a B2B (business-to-business) company, the media mix might be more focused on channels that are effective for reaching and engaging with other businesses. This might include channels such as trade shows, direct mail, and online content marketing. For example, a B2B company that sells software solutions to other businesses might use trade shows to showcase its products, direct mail to send personalized communications to potential customers, and online content marketing to provide valuable information and insights to its target audience.
Overall, integrated marketing communications and the media mix are important tools for companies to reach and engage with customers. By coordinating and aligning their communication channels and messages, companies can create a consistent, cohesive brand experience for customers, and build strong, long-term relationships with them.
What does sales have to do with it?
Personal selling is a face-to-face form of communication that is used to sell products or services to individual customers or prospects. Personal selling involves a salesperson meeting with a potential customer, building a relationship with them, and persuading them to buy the product or service.
Personal selling is a key part of the promotion element of the 4P marketing mix. It is often used in industries where products or services are complex or require a high level of customization, such as business-to-business sales, financial services, and luxury goods.
Personal selling is an effective way to build relationships with customers and to understand their specific needs and preferences. This allows the salesperson to tailor their pitch and provide personalized solutions that meet the customer's needs. Personal selling can also provide an opportunity for the salesperson to overcome objections and objections, and to persuade the customer to buy the product or service.
Personal selling can be a valuable tool for generating sales, but it can also be time-consuming and costly. Salespeople need to be trained and managed, and they need to be provided with the right tools and resources to be effective. In addition, personal selling can be subject to external factors such as changes in the market, customer preferences, and competition.
Overall, personal selling is a powerful way to sell products or services to individual customers. By building relationships and providing personalized solutions, salespeople can persuade customers to buy the product or service, and create long-term value for the company.
Marketing Mix: Distribution (Place)
The Place (or Distribution) element of the 4P marketing mix refers to the channels and methods that a company uses to make its products or services available to customers. This includes the distribution channels that the company uses, such as wholesalers, retailers, or e-commerce platforms, as well as the logistics and inventory management systems that support these channels.
Strategic channel design is the process of designing and managing the distribution channels that a company uses to reach its customers. This involves analyzing the market and the customer needs, and identifying the most effective channels for reaching and engaging with customers. It also involves designing the channel structure and the roles and responsibilities of the various channel members, such as distributors, retailers, or e-commerce platforms.
Strategic channel design is important because it can have a significant impact on the success of a company's marketing efforts. Effective channel design can help a company to reach and engage with its customers, and to build strong, long-term relationships with them. It can also help a company to maximize its profitability, by reducing costs and increasing efficiency in the distribution of its products or services.
Omnichannel marketing & channel design
Omnichannel marketing is a strategy that uses multiple channels and platforms to reach and engage with customers. This can include channels such as brick-and-mortar stores, e-commerce platforms, social media, and mobile apps. Omnichannel marketing is related to strategic channel design, because it involves designing and managing the various channels that a company uses to reach its customers.
According to McKinsey, strategic channel design is critical to the success of omnichannel marketing. This is because omnichannel marketing requires a well-designed and managed distribution network in order to provide a consistent and seamless experience for customers across multiple channels. Strategic channel design provides this understanding, by analyzing the market and the customer needs, and by designing the channel structure and the roles and responsibilities of the various channel members.
Furthermore, strategic channel design is important for optimizing the efficiency of a company's distribution network. By designing and managing its channels effectively, a company can ensure that its products or services are always available to customers, and that they can be delivered quickly and efficiently. This can help the company to build customer loyalty and drive sales, and to achieve its marketing objectives.
Overall, strategic channel design is a crucial component of omnichannel marketing. By designing and managing its distribution channels effectively, a company can provide a consistent and seamless experience for its customers, and can maximize its efficiency and profitability.
Back to the fundamentals
Marketing fundamentals are important to the modern marketer, because they provide a solid foundation for effective marketing. These fundamentals include market research, segmentation, targeting, positioning, setting objectives, and using the 4P marketing mix.
Market research is the process of gathering and analyzing information about the market, the customer, and the competition. This information is critical for understanding the market and the customer needs, and for developing effective marketing strategies and tactics.
Segmentation, targeting, and positioning are key concepts in marketing, and they help marketers to identify and focus on the customers and markets that are most likely to be profitable and successful. By segmenting the market, marketers can identify homogeneous groups of customers with similar needs and preferences, and they can develop tailored marketing strategies that are relevant and effective for these groups.
Setting marketing objectives is also important, because it provides a clear and measurable direction for the marketing efforts. By setting specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) objectives, marketers can ensure that their marketing efforts are focused and effective, and that they are contributing to the overall success of the company.
Finally, the 4P marketing mix is a framework that provides a holistic and integrated approach to marketing. The 4Ps – product, price, place, and promotion – represent the key elements of the marketing mix, and they provide a framework for developing and implementing marketing strategies and tactics. By using the 4P marketing mix, marketers can ensure that their marketing efforts are coordinated and effective, and that they are contributing to the overall success of the company.
Overall, marketing fundamentals are important to the modern marketer, because they provide a solid foundation for effective marketing. By focusing on these fundamentals, marketers can ensure that their marketing efforts are relevant, effective, and successful.