Sunday, April 15, 2012

"Marketing": You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

I'm never sure whether to be amused or saddened when I hear most people talk of "marketing". The problem is that most people had the same understanding of marketing that I did before I got my MBA: marketing is a means to get customers to know about and to like your product. Using that definition, "marketing" is merely a combination of sales and advertising. However, I've come to the conclusion that the most important task a good marketer can do for a company is the one that's most overlooked: finding a way to understand your customers' needs and wants. In other words, marketing research is far and away the most important task marketing will do for your firm.


A common mistake among people and firms that I've encountered is that they assume that they can meet their customers' needs with their current product offerings. This is true to a point - if you weren't meeting some customers' needs on some level you wouldn't still be in business. But most firms fall into the trap of giving customers what they ask for, rather than what they truly want. This is especially true in IT, when business needs are often overlooked in favor of technical requests. But if you're constantly using marketing as a means to sell your goods before you find out whether your target market wants them, you're setting yourself up to fail sooner or later.