This is an excerpt taken from our Brand Management course at MyBrandClass.com
Marketing. It can be vague. It can be versatile. Today, I will give this discipline a form.
I have often found the idea of marketing to be a human condition, necessitated at most times by our social existence. For instance, every moment we put forth a certain image of ours – from the clothes we wear, to how we converse, to things we do – we are essentially marketing ourselves. When we praise our favourite hockey team, we are marketing it. The atlas of a Marketing ecosystem was first imprinted on me during a fabulous course on Marketing Management at Bocconi University in Milan. Over time, more elements of a customer journey were added to it. What I find is that a brand journey is inevitable to a product or service. And the flow of customer-facing efforts goes something like this:
It starts with a product or service that we intend to market. It is both followed and fed by market research and data insights, trickling on to researching the potential consumers. Therein lies the 1st tier of our Strategy: the act of segmenting those customers into distinct groups, targeting one or more of them, checking how we can differentiate ourselves from our competitors for this chosen segment, and accordingly positioning the product/service in their minds.
That last one is where we venture into creating and defining the brand itself. And that acts as the short bridge to the 2nd tier of our Strategy: the popular 4Ps. That includes the product we eventually sell, places where we can reach our target customers (covered under Channel marketing), and pricing (ranging between the target customers’ willingness to spend for our brand on the higher end, and our willingness to accept a value on the lower end).
Promotion (often confused with the word “Marketing” itself) includes E-marketing, the traditional print/radio/TV and that elusive angel of any marketer – word of mouth publicity. This is also where Sales engagements come into the picture. Guarding these bridges as corrective gatekeepers, of course, are elements of Legal and Ethical or Green marketing, as well as Customer Success.
Still, that flowchart above looks tad complicated, doesn’t it? If we look closely, all entities tend to merge into one another until we are really left with just two overarching ones: The Brand and the Consumer. As I said, it is a human function. So allow me to simplify things with an alternate visualization:
The Brand is at the very heart of any Marketing approach, connected in a continuous feedback loop with the brain that is Consumer research. This is where we get our data, our sight and our Tier 1 Strategy. And just the way we have a calculative left-brain and a creative right brain, the Marketing brain has two sides too. One is quantitative, measurable and visible – often utilized through secondary research and surveys. Think age, gender, consumption amount etc. The other side is subtle, invisible and accessed through observation and psychographic analysis – Tribes, preferences, habits, cultures, etc. Without the two, what we know is often deceptively insufficient. It is this holistic art that increased the mouth size of our toothpaste tubes, and pushed product prices down a cent to $X.99 around the world! Prof. Erin Meyer deals brilliantly with a part of such cultural influence in her book, The Culture Map.
Online and offline channels of marketing and sales serve as the two arms of any brand, executing the Tier II Strategy of determining and executing the marketing mix. As you can see, Digital Marketing forms only a part of this customer ecosystem. The legs, on which it stands consist of two pillars: one is that of legal and social/environmental/ethical standards. They are the reason you are not an open book all over the internet already. The other is that of customer success, which is the reason your customers stay and your business grows. If we focus on acquiring customers, while steadily losing them at the other end, all other effort goes in vain. Likewise, if we focus on acquiring customers and serving them well, but do so in unethical or illegal manner, both existing and prospective customers will go away - either because of moral conflict or administrative action.
While the human-like ecosystem of a brand journey shows how connected and interdependent Marketing, Sales and Customer Success are, how and where do they overlap in practical execution as a customer evolves from learning about a brand to becoming its fan? You can learn how these three work together to maximize a brand's value at MyBrandClass.com.