What is the big deal about marketing?

Today I was asked a very simple question – “What is the big deal about marketing?”

For all of you people across 15 countries who are reading this blog, I haven’t yet fully explained why I find marketing so exciting. In fact, it is a really good question – what is so great about marketing anyway? It is just putting a product together, doing some focus groups, running the product in a test market and eventually churning out some good ads and in store promotions. That doesn’t seem (and is probably not) rocket science anyway. If used well, it seems like an good algorithm that will give you the required results – sales, market share, profit margins whatever.

My answer to that is – that is how marketing WAS done. Everything was simple. The media channels were few and well defined. What worked and didn’t work was defined as well. Increased budget for TV air time was a dream come true. Naturally, big companies dominated the markets. It was simple and unfair. If you had the big bucks, chances are that you could afford TV commercials and newspaper ads, and the likely outcome of that would be companies earning even more of the big bucks.

TODAY, the entire landscape of marketing has changed. Digital channels enable small and medium businesses to be on the same playing field. Websites are built, social media channels are leveraged on and most importantly visible, sustainable and affordable ads are run on Ad Words and YouTube. So what is the game changer today? Why are the monsters so scared of start ups that they are going on a acquiring (read: gobbling) spree? I’d say there are 2 key things changing the marketing landscape:

1) Technology: Today, marketing does not stop at 4P’s. Successful campaigns use mobile apps, augmented reality, mobile sites and more technology of the future. In fact, most of the big ad agencies have technology teams and departments that help support innovative campaigns. Small companies are quick to create and adapt to new technologies and this makes them fast and agile.

2) Share-able Content: Do note – I am not saying interesting content. Every advertiser thinks that they are putting up interesting content. To be fair, almost all content is interesting. But what sets great campaigns apart from the rest is how much people are engaging, creating and sharing content. The more people not just ‘like’ but ‘share’ content, the more visibility a product or brand gets. Of course, today it’s no longer just professional videos shot at the Swiss Alps that goes viral, it is simple , Pepsi Max & Jeff Gordon or 9 GAG posts that people love to share.

It is no longer just ‘buy’ ‘buy’ ‘buy’ then ‘go-to-hell’ ; but a two way relationship between a person and a brand. It is no longer classifying customers on the basis of demographics or psycho-graphics but really about forming a relationship with an individual customer.

Yes. So you might ask – that makes sense. But why NOW? Wasn’t it common sense to do this back in the good-old ad days as well?

The answer is simple. NOW, marketers have the ability to connect with an individual on an individual level. The answer is again in this simple 4 letter word that changes the lives of all marketing professionals – D.A.T.A. Yes, DATA. Never before in the history of advertising, did we have so much data about customers, what they do, what do they like, what they don’t like, what kind of family they have, what moves them, what media platforms they use, what they see, what they share. Everything.

Smart marketing of tomorrow will not focus on the internally driven 4P’s but will use smart data in real time to understand the customer, put the customer in the center and run all other functions around these customer needs. Ads and messages will be customised and tailored to an individual. Every, single person.

Personally, to me. I find this phase of marketing exciting and exhilarating. It makes my heart beat faster even as I write this post. The entire landscape of marketing is constantly changing and evolving. Some people see this time as paradigm shift swinging from one way of thinking to another.Something like a pendulum swing between the ‘old’ and the ‘new’. To me, it is incremental changes coupled with giant leaps but the point is that marketing is always always & always changing.

I am extremely variety seeking and am constantly looking out for change. (Well, It’s just how I am) So without a doubt, marketing excites me tremendously!

I believe the best marketers of tomorrow will not just have appreciation for the past but a greater anticipation for the evolving future.

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