There are two memorable quotes about marketing.
Peter Drucker: “Because the purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two–and only two–basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs. Marketing is the distinguishing, unique function of the business.”
Theodore Levitt: “The difference between marketing and selling is more than semantic. Selling focuses on the needs of the seller, marketing on the needs of the buyer. Selling is preoccupied with the seller’s need to convert his product into cash; marketing with the idea of satisfying the needs of the customer by means of the product and the cluster of things associated with creating, delivering, and finally consuming it.”
The soul of a business is marketing. Whether it is B2B or B2C, marketing is about conveying the value provided by the product, which in turn makes a customer decide that an exchange of money in return for the product is a transaction that’s worth doing. A marketer’s role thus becomes to create the conditions for such a trade.
Traditional consumer marketing was about creating the demand via media: memorable ads in print or TV, and then ensuring the distribution for fulfilment of demand. Modern marketing is much more complex with the rise of digital in the past 25 years. Every part of the value chain has changed: from the outreach (marketing via search engines, email, social media, and influencers) to the distribution (marketplaces, direct-to-consumer). Ratings and reviews also now play an important role in the purchase decision.
As Activate explains: “While traditional marketing’s focal point is the company’s product or service, modern marketing is more customer-oriented. Businesses that adopt a modern strategy always put their consumers’ satisfaction above all else, so they’re able to address their audience’s unique wants and needs. Since modern marketing uses a digital platform, it’s more customisable. It can also easily adapt to change, so it has no problem keeping up with the latest marketing trends. Plus, it can be accessed on any device, which means companies have a higher chance of reaching a global audience. All of these factors help build customer loyalty and trust, as well as worldwide brand recognition.”
GeeksforGeeks offers a good explainer on the difference between traditional and modern marketing:
The complexity of modern marketing also raises a lot of conundrums for marketers. Existing customers or new customers? All customers or Best customers? Reacquire or Reactivate? Broadcast or personalise? SMS or Email? Browse or Search? Growth at all costs or profits? Best of breed or Full stack? Build or buy? Work with an incumbent or join an attacker?
When I asked ChatGPT to list a B2C/D2C marketer’s conundrums, this is what I got:
- Balancing the need for short-term sales with the importance of building long-term brand loyalty
- Deciding whether to invest in expensive, high-production-value advertising or to create more cost-effective content
- Prioritizing product innovation vs focusing on customer service
- Choosing between a wide range of products and services or focusing on a specific niche
- Balancing the need to acquire new customers with the importance of retaining existing ones
- Deciding whether to invest in data-driven, targeted marketing or relying on gut instincts
- Deciding whether to create a strong social media presence or focus on email marketing
- Balancing the need for a comprehensive marketing strategy with the need for quick-hit tactics
- Deciding whether to prioritize search engine optimization (SEO) or paid search advertising
- Balancing the need for customer acquisition with the need for customer retention and growth.
In this series, I will consider the modern marketer’s ORCs (OR conundrums). Of course, the preferred option is an AND but because of limits on budget, time and other resources, marketing – like life – is about choices and trade-offs. In many cases, the answer may be obvious, but the execution is not so.