As we have seen in a previous post (‘Likes and followers’: true indicators of a brand’s capacity to attract customers?), good marketing practice is not about the number of likes and followers, but about:
- Developing substantial project and business design.
- Building a clear and viable strategy stating the business/marketing aims and objectives.
- Developing a precise idea of what the product is, what problem it solves, what benefits it brings and what needs and wants it fulfils.
Such definition of marketing defines the difference between:
- Mass communication-oriented marketing.
- Product development-oriented marketing.
In mass communication-oriented marketing, marketing disappears, for it is turned into a mere form of communication for the sake of communication. Issues such as: a) the product uses and functions; b) the benefits that the product is supposed to deliver and who such benefits are supposed to be delivered to; c) whether or not the product is able to deliver such benefits. Such issues are of no concern for this sort of marketing. The main purpose of mass communication-oriented marketing is to build ad campaigns to appeal to a larger public – regardless of any estimate about the product’s capacity to generate sales, by which volume sales are generated and in which market segment.
Conversely, product development-oriented marketing
- Reflects the firm’s business objectives and the strategy to achieve them.
- Is based upon a sound market segmentation.
- Relies on a thorough collection, management and analysis of data.
- Relies on segmentation and data to develop or re-develop the product according to the changes in the market conditions.
- Does not aim to appeal to a larger audience, but targets precise market segments based on the benefits these latter seek.
Simply put, good marketing practice such as product development-oriented marketing is about:
- The product and / or brand’s identity, purposes and functions.
- Specific segments’ needs and wants and the capacity of the product / brand to deliver the benefits these segments seek.
Failing to focus on these elements, hence to communicate the brand / product’s value, means failing to explain why customers should buy a given product.
Customers are different from on another (different in terms of values, interests and needs) to the extent that it is often hard, or even not desirable, to group them into categories (segments), and it is better to engage in one-to-one interactions and deliver a made-to-measure product.
As customer behaviour is based on differentiation, chasing the larger public can produce profound negative effects in terms of market share, sales volume, reputation and revenue. A firm trying to appeal to everyone’s tastes risk to appeal no one’s.
Mass communication-oriented approaches can produce more dangerous consequences when it comes to politics and government. Let us remember what happened in the UK in the run up to 2015 general elections and the effects of 2016 European Membership referendum on the UK’s economy.
In order to win back the consent of right-wing voters that the UKIP was eroding and secure 2015 general elections, David Cameron embraced the anti-EU propaganda. In 2013 he promised that a in/out referendum on Britain’s permanence in the EU would be held if the Conservative party won 2015 General Elections.
As the referendum day was approaching, David Cameron embraced the ‘remain cause’, for he knew what the consequences of Brexit would be. The party split in two, while Cameron sought Labour party help to win the remain vote in Scotland.
Eventually, the leave vote prevailed, urging Cameron to resign and call a snap general election that resulted in a Conservative minority party and hung parliament.
The lack in political clarity and vision caused by chasing what was supposed to be what ‘everyone wants’, determined Cameron and the Conservative party’s political debacle and forced the country to face the potentially dangerous economic and social consequences of leaving the EU.
The lesson to be learnt is that mass communication-oriented strategies, whether these are aimed at getting votes or likes and followers, can cause loss of control over a brand, a product or, as we have seen, a politica agenda.
On the contrary, by focusing on the product/brand’s identity, project design and the needs and wants of specific segments, product development-oriented marketing allows control over the product/brand and a creates promising conditions for a productive dialogue with prospects and customers on how to improve the firm’s offering and deliver benefits.