Magazine article Marketing

Confucius Says: 'Keep It Simple to Keep customers.'(Column)

Magazine article Marketing

Confucius Says: 'Keep It Simple to Keep customers.'(Column)

Article excerpt

It is said that Confucius, asked what he would do if he ran China, replied: "I would make people use language correctly." When his disciples said this seemed rather trivial, he disagreed. "If what is said is not what is meant, what should be done remains undone, morals and art are corrupted, justice goes astray and the people will stand around in helpless confusion."

Although marketing is not as confusing as ancient China, a surprising number of practitioners can't define it. Peter Drucker once said it was "business looked at from the customer's point of view". So I was intrigued to be asked by the European boss of a US multinational to help them become "consumer-focused". In my idle way, I passed the real work to my colleagues after listing where firms make things hard for customers, before, during, and after the sale.

Before the sale many firms fail to differentiate themselves clearly - maddening for customers, who are often faced with a range of bewildering alternatives. If the only difference between you and your competitor is your latest advertising campaign, why should choose you? The cardinal sin here is lack of consistency. As Bill Bernbach once pointed out, one average campaign run for ten years will do better than ten brilliant ones, one every year.

Another common crime is not giving enough information to enquirers, or - sheer folly - offering no way to reply at all. Questions to ask include: Is the information you give utterly clear? Is it sent out immediately? …

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