The Grand Marketing Tamasha!

Marketing, as a function, once occupied center stage in an organization’s structure. It still should but it really doesn’t.

It’s chaotic out there in the business world today. And somewhere along the line, Management seems to have forgotten that for Marketing to be successful, it has to be the prime driver of the Marketing Mix – Product, Pricing, Positioning, Placement, Promotion.

That’s why Marketing has to be center stage because the Mix leaves nothing out as organizational functions go – except perhaps the actual manufacturing and financing of the whole jamboree that is Marketing.

Actually, these days I have a better word than jamboree. The word is tamasha*. Tamasha is a word in several Indian languages, which originally stood for a grand show, performance or any form of entertainment. Over time, however, the word has taken on slightly negative connotations implying a grand farce.

I am sorry but that’s what Marketing (#MyIndustry) seems like to me these days – a tamasha.

And, that’s why I have chosen The Grand Marketing Tamasha as the title for my post. 

I have spent over 3 decades in the professions of Advertising and Marketing, enjoying myself for the most part.

I still thrill at many a memory of a ‘eureka’ moment.

Those were the days, I tell you!

When after much agonising, a product benefit was matched to a deep rooted consumer need.

When there was all-round jubilation at the marketer’s and advertising agency end when finally a meaningful brand position and selling proposition had been developed.

When brands were built. When brands stood for an assurance of quality in the minds of consumers. When brands were able to command a premium for the need they filled and for their quality assurance.

Those days are now long gone.

It truly is a rabble-rousing bazaar these days with buyers and sellers haggling over prices and offers.

Up to 80% off!

Buy two. Get the third free!

Zero down payment. Easy EMIs.

Mam, Madam, Sir….look here. Buy our Family Plan and save on your monthly talk time bills.

Bundle this. Bundle that. Position your product or service offering as value pricing.

Is that what Marketing has been reduced to? What happened to brand building and the ability to command a hefty brand valuation?

I think the decay started when debt gave way to equity and the yardstick for business performance was measured in quarterly earnings.

When that trend started, Marketing no longer ruled the roost and instead, became a support function to Sales. Sales demanded and Marketing acquiesced with offers and more offers. Do anything but bring in the revenue. We will worry about brand loyalty and equity later.

Unfortunately for marketing practitioners, another trend simultaneously took root. Markets went global, increasing competition. Sure, consumers benefited with more choice at lower prices. But there was a cost attached to being price competitive. It came in the form of cutting corners to reduce costs – by, for example, reducing material costs and outsourcing of manufacturing and customer service.

The cost paid was in the erosion of quality; an issue I addressed in Has anyone seen Quality? I am looking for her

Quarterly earnings, the pressure to keep reporting healthy profits, increased competition, outsourcing – all these factors came together to change the very complexion of Marketing.

Brand building principles began to be neglected. I addressed this trend in a post I wrote sometime ago, The brand is dead! Long live the brand!, In that post, I raised the question as to whether the value in branding has eroded in an increasingly commoditised world. I also asked if branding is now serving as a mere label of identification in an era of promotion driven marketing.

In that same post, I also pointed out that the current situation did not mean that branding was dead. Because brand building principles were still clearly at work. To my mind that was evident in the fact that tech brands were dominating reputed listings of ‘The World’s Most Valuable Brands.’ The reason for that fact was also evident. Put simply, it’s because tech brands were making a material and emotional difference to the lives of consumers. They were adding value.

But even there, the jury might still be out. It’s such a fast paced, fast changing, 24*7 world out there that I feel sorry for CMOs.

Connecting with a consumer who flits from channel to channel in nano seconds is tough enough.

UWA Alizarin Goldflake Art Maze by RAFTWET Jewell (Flickr.com CC By-ND 2.0)
UWA Alizarin Goldflake Art Maze by RAFTWET Jewell (Flickr.com CC By-ND 2.0)

 

Even tougher is getting the consumer to stand still for even a moment and listen to brand communication.

What does that poor CMO do?

Well, if I hadn’t retired, I would have insisted that my company and my agencies stick to some golden, time-tested principles of Marketing and Brand Building.

Yes, yes, I know digital technology is changing consumer behaviour. I know navigating the digital maze looks tough.

But, if one cuts through the hype, the situation on the ground has not changed.

You need a quality product that offers consumers value. Your communication of the value offered needs to be creative to hold the consumers’ attention.

You need to win the consumers’ trust not just with your product quality but through transparency in your dealings as well. Don’t try and squeeze revenue out of every customer transaction. Do that and consumers will shy away.

Better to build all real costs into the product price just like the good old days.

That’s what I think needs to be done. Because the mindless quest for revenue has killed the discipline of Marketing, #MyIndustry.

#MyIndustry #LinkedIn #Marketing

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Featured Image Credit: In a Sea of Lamps by Arne Krueger (Flickr.com CC By-SA 2.0)

 

 

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