Today companies need to be seen as more than just profit-driven. They need to be seen as leaders in their fields. One of the ways to do this is by being viewed as having an impact on our biggest societal problems or by making our world a better place in which to live, work and play. Simply talking about it isn’t good enough – companies need to demonstrate these brand values on a daily basis. Continue reading “Sponsorship Provides a Platform for Brand Activism”
In the public sector and nonprofit communities, marketing has traditionally been viewed as a “money pit” where you constantly feed money, but nothing ever comes out. There was never any real accountability for driving results for the organization. Senior executives didn’t understand marketing’s role, nor how it was tied to its organization’s visibility in the marketplace; the program or business development team viewed marketing as a waste of dollars where it had little impact on increasing business transactions, and the finance department thought marketers were simply strange aliens from another planet that didn’t speak the same language. If it was based on achieving specific goals, they were fairly loose, with ambiguous objectives like “increased visibility” or “public outreach” or “awareness”.
The year 2017 is when marketing will finally take a foothold in these organizations as the smart organizations realize that they need to go beyond being great product or service organizations – they need to be great marketing organizations. The world is simply too fractured now and customer loyalty is at an all-time low. Marketing is needed more than ever and in order for organizations to achieve their goals, they need a laser-type focus where marketing performance is measured against objectives and there is continuous improvement.
In 2017, marketing will be measured on its ability to drive growth for the organization. Whether it’s driving qualified leads for new members, increasing attendance at an event or delivering new fundraising dollars, it is aimed at achieving an organizational goal. Smart marketers in these organizations are doing a better job at showing how their efforts are contributing to the goals and success of the organization.
Here’s what I see as the big roles of marketing in 2017:
1. Understanding better than anyone, who the customer is and how best to reach and communicate with that individual or community;
2. Driving clarity and articulating the organization’s brand and value proposition, both internally and externally;
3. Managing the end-to-end customer experience;
4. Integrating communication channels so that money is being spent on the right mediums and messages are consistent and support the brand;
5. Tying marketing activities to the goals of the organization and the customer sales cycle, and measuring the role and effectiveness of marketing in achieving these goals.
By clarifying the marketing function, it can be elevated to a higher state of existence in an organization where it becomes an essential part of the organizational “mix” and a key contributor at the senior leadership level.
As you know, marketing in one format or another, has been in existence for a long time. It evolved from the simple trade era where raw resources were exchanged, through the mass production and sales eras to the emergence of the marketing department and marketing company era where business realized that they exist to meet the needs of customers and that everyone in the company has a role in delivering value to these customers. This modern era of marketing likely began in the mid-20th century when competition for marketplace share increased and companies had to work harder to sell their products to consumers; and is still very much in play today.
According to Phil Kotler, one of the world’s leading marketing experts and author of over 55 books on the subject, “marketing is the science and art of exploring, creating, and delivering value to satisfy the needs of a target market at a profit. It defines, measures and quantifies the size of the identified market and the profit potential. It pinpoints which segments the company is capable of serving best and it designs and promotes the appropriate products and services”.
He goes on to say, “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 customers become better off. The marketer’s watchwords are quality, service, and value.”
He also makes a distinction between marketing and selling. “Selling starts only when you have a product. Marketing starts before there is a product. Marketing is the homework the company does to figure out what people need and what the company should make. Marketing determines how to launch, price, distribute and promote the product/service offering in the marketplace. Marketing then monitors the results and improves the offering over time”.
If all this sounds familiar, it’s because the principles of marketing are still very relevant in today’s digitally oriented environment. While communication technologies such as social media have dramatically changed the landscape and how we do things, the core concepts of marketing remain in place; with the tools and communication channels we use constantly evolving.
To illustrate my point, Eric Rasmussen, Vice-President of Consumer Insights at GroupOn summarizes where his priorities lie: “I think it all goes back to really knowing your customer and understanding the intersection of what you can offer and what they want – then delivering that in the best possible way. I think segmentation is the key ingredient to personalization and targeting.” This approach is clearly using marketing to identify core customers and products that will appeal to them.
While I have been discussing the business side of marketing, these concepts hold true in the public and non-profit sectors as well. If you take the above definitions and replace the word profit with impact or generating sustainable revenue or even affecting social change, the principles of marketing very much apply to these sectors. Marketing is clearly taking a foothold in these sectors as organizations of all types adopt a more strategic approach towards their business.
The bottom line is no matter the new technologies and channels marketers have at their disposal, the goal is the same: Understand the customer, figure out who wants what, and give it to them. It`s that simple. An effective marketing strategy lays the groundwork for tactical execution such as social channels, face-to-face marketing or advertising.
This is why events like MARCOM (June 13-15, Ottawa) are so important for the public and non-profit sectors. The learning content at MARCOM combines the traditional principles of marketing with the latest enabling technologies such as social media to give a well-rounded view as to how these sectors can use marketing principles to better meet their objectives and serve their customers.
Marketing has been around for a long time and will continue to offer a powerful set of tools for understanding the markets you serve, segmenting audiences, establishing products or services that people want, delivering these products at the right time and place and at the right price and measuring progress. While tactics might change, the principles of marketing are as sound today as they were 50 years ago.