2013-02-20, Nerijus Čelkonas

Marketing dilemma

Marketing dilemma

It‘s a long-known truth that marketing‘s goal is to present a right product at the right place for the right price and using the correct promotion activities. If we analyze every aspect separately in the light of today‘s realities, we‘ll see that the situation requires new knowledge.

Price is usually regulated by supply and demand. An exception is a situation when brand name creates added value, it‘s added to the actual price that‘s paid by the user. Examples of this are: Apple, Harley Davidson, Rolex and so on.

The question of the right place was solved by globalization, internet, e-commerce and modern logistics. Now we wait for 3D printing.

Promotion is possibly the most subtle aspect and least solved – personal attention is still drawn in ancient ways – „see me and want me“. Google adwords relocated this to a micro-level and created opportunities for small businesses to compete with the market‘s giants. But the fundamental problem still exists – it‘s difficult to impossible to measure ROI for offline business. Personalized and targeted (no Ad$ waste) supply is still in its diapers.

If talking about the product itself, all seems simple until we think about the technology world. Maybe you remember the concepts of innovator and inventor?

Innovator is a person or an organization who‘s one of the first to introduce into reality something better than before.

Inventor – it‘s a person who makes an improvement upon a machine or a product, or a new process for creating of objects or results.

Let’s think about marketing strategies an inventor and innovator should chose and would they be the same? Could Steve Jobs’, Larry Page’s, Jeff Bezos’ or Thomas Edison’s, A. Graham Bell’s or Nikola Tesla’s messages be the same?

Our brain works on association principle (thus, those storing more information have greater chances for more associations) and inventors usually just improve an existing product or service to suit us better. In principle, it works in today’s world, but they don’t create anything new when only improving a product. Even Steve Jobs only improved the headphones, Larry Page only improved search and Jeff Bezos changed the book trade channel.

The invention of telegraph prompted many next inventions, but wasn’t adapted for the masses – the invention of the telephone has reached us many years later. Inventions of Nikola Tesla have prompted gossip till today and electric wave transmission by air is just finding its user now.

As we can see, at the time of innovation, marketing has another variable – time. How do you present a product to the market if it’s just too early for it? How do you speed up the progress and product adaptation to the masses if it has less transfer associations?

iPod-> iPhone-> iPad vs. candle->lamp?

21st trigger

Human habits are the hardest to change. Science has found that it takes 21 days (or triggers) for our brain to get used to new views or situations. Advertisers know perfectly that we won’t run and buy their product after seeing the ad once. Still, even without realizing it, after several dozens of triggers, our brain starts to perceive it as a friendly element and a subconscious trust in a good or services forms.


Eric Ries vs. Steve Jobs

Eric Ries, “The lean startup” management practitioner, borrowed Minimal Variable Product (MVP) process from marketing (to achieve the best ROI, try out different advertising channels) and adapted it to product development. This is one of the best adaptations of management I’ve seen in the last 20 years. This, in principle, answers the question on how the products should be created: if it’s created too early and there’re no user associations, change is needed till the associations are found. This is the only way to improve the product, even though you already know that what you’re offering now, the user will only need in 10 years. But as would Steve Jobs would say, when he boldly claimed: “It's really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don't know what they want until you show it to them.”

So, as far as we know, if you’ve decided to use Steve Jobs’ philosophy in today’s world and want to decide what the user needs - don’t forget the 21 trigger rule and open your wallets wide. If your wallet is thin – listen to Eric Ries’ advice.

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