At a fundamental level, marketing is the process of understanding your customers, communicating and selling to them. The question is whether, in the age of social media, artificial intelligence and smartphones, are marketing still relevant? Or, does a marketer just need to know different marketing channels – both traditional and digital, to be successful in business?
The core approach to business has not changed:
- Create a product that people want
- Let people know the product exists
- Give potential customers reasons to buy the product
- Create a positive experience, so the customers come back
Marketing covers the second and third points. Let people know the product exists and give them reasons to buy it. If the basic approach to business has not changed, then it means that marketing has not changed too. So, how has marketing changed in the digital age? What has changed are the communication channels and platforms that are used.
Traditional marketing can be considered marketing before the digital era, before the time of mobile devices, broadband wifi and 4G data. Traditional marketing includes direct mailing, organising events, participation in trade shows & conferences, print advertising, radio ads, TV ads, large format media and offline public relations. However, today, we have digital marketing such as optimised and responsive website development, SEO, paid advertising, social media marketing and content marketing. Both types of marketing serve the needs of marketing for a business. So, marketing is definitely still relevant.
What marketers have to do today is to figure out how they can engage and connect with customers in the current digital age. The use of smartphones and mobile technology has increased substantially over the last few years. Almost everyone has a smartphone – at least in developed countries, and people are searching and buying online through mobile more than ever before.
So, marketing is not only relevant, but it is necessary. Marketing is what allows marketers and salespeople to understand their customers and determine the tools to communicate with them. As the world becomes more segmented, it is marketing that allows brands to make an impression on customers.
A model of marketing that has been around since the 1950s is the Four Ps of marketing. These are the key factors that are involved in the marketing of a product. The four Ps are the product (the good or service), the price (what the consumer pays), the place (the location where a product is marketed), and promotion (the advertising).
Marketing consulting firm, Evolve & Adapt, proposes that the 4Ps are no longer as relevant because the world today is entirely different from the world when the marketing mix was developed. “Product” emphasises building a better mousetrap instead of focusing on solutions for customers. Value is a more important differentiator than “price.” “Place” is very much flipped on its head in the digital world. And, “promotion” as interruption marketing is obsolete in today’s social media world where customers have a voice.”
Their proposed marketing framework is called The Marketing Inverted Pyramid.
Each aspect represents one stage of the marketing process that lays the foundation of the business. The first aspect of marketing in the Marketing Inverted PyramidTM is value creation which encompasses innovation. Communication through customer engagement is used to tell and sell the story of the value created (product or service). Consistent delivery of good value and communication helps build the brand equity of the business.
Brand equity is strengthened when more value is created (innovation) and more communication (engagement) is put behind the new value created. This, in turn, reinforces the strength of the brand even more. The three sides of the Marketing Inverted PyramidTM work in succession and feedback to form an infinite cycle that guides strategy and tactics.
As marketing has changed, the frameworks used to understand marketing should also change.