Magazine article Marketing

Best Practice: The Making of the Marketing Genius

Magazine article Marketing

Best Practice: The Making of the Marketing Genius

Article excerpt

If marketers are to take a central role in business, they need to turn consumer insight into radical innovation. Peter Fisk examines what it takes to be a marketing success.

Marketing needs more genius. The best marketers combine the scientific mind of an Albert Einstein with the creative touch of a Pablo Picasso to produce results that drive a business forward. But what does this mean in today's business environment? What is required of marketers?

Business needs marketing like never before. The best opportunities and biggest challenges for a business are external, not internal. Yet the majority of organisations focus on improving what they do, rather than responding to the outside world. The dangers are clear - in a fast-changing environment, incrementalism can swiftly lead to irrelevance.

This is where marketing comes in. It has the ability to provide the intelligence to make sense of complex markets and find the best opportunities, then supply the creativity to exploit them. In short, marketing transforms customer insight into the innovation that companies require, making it the driving force behind sustainable, profitable growth.

This role is all the more vital given the way business is developing.

Markets are global and fast-changing; some are converging, others fragmenting. As technology accelerates the pace of change, competition grows more intense, ideas are quickly imitated and advantage is temporary. Meanwhile, corporate ethics and the environment are rising up the agenda.

Apple is an example of a firm that used its marketing genius to turn this situation to its advantage. It watched the music market fragment and blur into chaos. As new technologies disrupted the industry model, old formats quickly became obsolete. Apple brought together an innovative solution in the form of hardware and software - the iPod and iTunes - to offer a way through this turmoil. It redefined the industry with a compelling, profitable product offering.

The music sector is indicative of how power has shifted to the customer. The economy has moved from surplus demand to surplus supply.

People typically have everything they need, so it is up to businesses to stimulate new desires. Consumers are bombarded with at least 1500 commercial stimuli every day and have access to an unprecedented range of media. The result is that they are better-informed than ever before, their expectations are sky-high and their loyalty is rare. The predictable behaviour patterns on which advertisers used to rely no longer apply.

Neuroscientists have found that consumers typically choose which brand to buy within 2.6 seconds - not long to turn marketing promises into profits.

Speed and timing, precision and clarity are today's communication imperatives.

Strategy breakdown

This complexity plays havoc with traditional marketing approaches. The obvious questions - which market are you in, who are your customers, what do they want, who are your competitors, what is your difference, where should you focus, what will happen next - no longer have simple answers.

Kodak used to know where it stood: it was the brand leader in photographic film. The markets, competitors, customers and products were all fairly predictable. For decades, camera film came in many formats and sizes, and everyone knew that Kodak film was the best. But 10 years later, with digital photography replacing traditional film, the company is confused.

It is not sure what market it is in, who the competitors are, what customers want, or on which products to focus.

Now cameras come from Sony or Dell. Images are stored on hard drives and shared by email. If you still want physical images, you can have them processed by Snapfish or Jessops, or printed via Hewlett-Packard or Epson.

Kodak has tried to respond: there are Kodak cameras, Kodak online wallets, Kodak printers, Kodak print kiosks. …

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