Thursday, January 2, 2014

What sets marketers apart

Marketing has always been the cost centre and dare I say - the discussion centre. Everyone else has their defined area of 'expertise', it is marketing that is everyone's favourite punching bag. No one messes with the finance because numbers is always a big mess. No one messes with the operations because stock management is a big headache. What about marketing, then? That's everyone's playground!

Marketing needs to be at the heart of decisions impacting both your buyers and customers - no second thought about it. The strong internal pressure leads even the marketing team to look at ROI metrics or even increase 'stakeholder response rate'. However, I always had the same lingering doubt - What exactly is the unique core competency of marketers?

It's pretty easy for other streams and professional roles to list specialized competencies - but what about marketers? What is our unique competency? What is that one thing that stands us out from the rest of the streams?

Great communication skills? - Nope, everyone requires it

Strategic Thinking? - Nope again

Creative ability? - Not really

Ability to innovate and marry the long term and short term plan? - Not exactly

All these are something that non-marketers are also supposed to have. Then what is it that we should possess?

It is up for discussion and debate but personally I believe that the answer for this is Meaningful engagement with buyers and customers

How often have we seen strategy meetings talking about a complete engagement model with buyers and customers? Am not saying that the buyers' needs are not discussed - far from it. Needs are discussed but only partially and in line with the other departments. How should we take care of our operations? What should be our stocking positions? What should be the finances to be put for branding purposes? How should we carry out our advertising plan?

There certainly is a need to speak to the complete market of buyers. There definitely is a need to think beyond the usual and make decisions that will be market driven. There is a need to gain non-obvious insights of customer buying patterns. Companies do tend to get these insights by outsourcing but the presence of 'buyer experts' to judge the trends and patterns of buying is invaluable to any company.

So, what do I want to be? I would want to be a hard worker; I would want to be a pro-active problem solver; I would want to be a relationship builder....but on top of all the above, I would want to be a buyer expert decoding the expert buyers!

Happy marketing!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Are 4Ps still relevant?

They form the very basis of modern day marketing. I think life of a marketer starts with these 4 little words. Ask any marketing professional and they would agree the importance of these 4 words all through their life. Ever since Jerome McCarthy proposed the marketing mix, Product, Price, Promotion and Place have become the essence of every marketer.

How relevant is the 4Ps still? Are we leaving to chance if we are not updating as per the market requirements? As a marketing professional, I would definitely vouch that we need to change with changing times. Will that principle also apply to the seemingly untouchable marketing mix?

Whatever I'm writing below is from consolidation of readings across various marketing fora. I found it compelling to post because it is so true to the marketing mix. Here it goes!

The 4Ps should be modified slightly to be in tune with changing times and what we get is 4Es


People are now looking beyond a product. They are looking for experience. When you buy a TV now, you are looking for that wholesome experience. When you are buying a razor, you are looking for that defining experience. When you buy a movie ticket you are not looking at movie as a product but to give you that experience which encompasses various things. Bottom line, people have moved from looking at products as products and are looking at experiencing products. So, is it time to modify the marketing mix to reflect this?


What is it that I get of experiencing this product? Has this been at the top of your mind behind every purchase? I wouldn't blame you. On the contrary, you are on the track that most of us are. We have moved beyond the concept of price. What we look now when we experience a product is the outcome of it..what's in it for me...or to put it more precisely...what am I getting in Exchange. The consumers have moved out of the comfort zone of price into the zone of exchange. They are willing to pay a higher price if in exchange they experience and get more benefits. Will I pay more to buy an Apple phone? What am I getting in exchange - operationally, socially and financially? Time for a change to kick out Price from the marketing mix?

Every Place

Where are products being sold these days? What are the channels for sales? The Place of Marketing Mix has become Every Place because that's where we practically see the products - every place! Someone having a physical shop and not having an online shop? He's missing on web visitors. Someone not present on facebook and/or twitter? They are missing out on social presence. You are expected to be physically present, use all the older channels (direct selling, B2B selling, indirect selling - all those still hold true) and yet use the modern channels - online, social. This makes you to be in every place


You saw a Bollywood hero bulging his muscles, removing his shirt and picking up a ended up buying it. This was the story till yesterday.

You now see a man-next-door endorsing a car that he uses; you see a girl-next-door endorsing a soap that she uses. You think strongly of using these products. This is how it is today.

Gone are the days when a specific promotional campaign is targeted at enticing your senses and appealing to you. Now, it's more about adoption...more about Evangelism. We don't just get swayed by a promotional campaign - it may get eye balls but not conversions. We are looking at adopters now...someone who can 'walk the talk'. We are not just looking at hearing from someone who's not even using that product. May be we are moving towards Evangelism

Is it really the time to modify the 1970's 'Marketing Mix' to sync with modern times? May be yes....may be not....but one thing's for sure - marketers are always the trend catchers and the trend setters.

Friday, April 23, 2010

The new Wagon R

Maruti and the Indian market go a long way! From the time being Indian market's monopolist to vying for the market share with all the big guns, Maruti has come a long way. Traditionalists still give it a thumbs-up (did some one say oldies?)

Wagon R has been the darling of the masses - for no reason it is the 2nd best selling car in India. However, everyone keep saying that the design could be a lot better. Not so flashy not so elegant, the Wagon R still sold. But, 6 years is a long time and Maruti decided to come up with a variant.

I'm not an expert on cars which meant I badly needed one - to get an opinion. The one I spoke to was very impressed by the new variant. He opined that Maruti addressed what it had to in the old model - front end looks!

With its competitors Santro, Figo, Beat in the range 3.4 L to 3.6 L, Maruti priced Wagon R between 3.28 - 3.8 for the variants. Maruti is expecting its blue-eyed boy to give it an edge over the competition. Will it?