In my 35 years working with business owners, entrepreneurs and big corporate clients on marketing, I’ve seen many different definitions of marketing govern people’s approaches to it, and unfortunately, most versions are narrow, limiting and, well, wrong. Marketing shouldn’t just be a cog in the wheel or a link in the chain of moving prospects to buyers or products to market. One of the best functions of marketing has always been business reinvention, and there’s never been a better or more necessary time for that than today’s market.
Did you know that Walt Disney originally included park cleanliness as a marketing function, not a cost of operations, when he launched his first amusement park? He defined the core of good marketing as doing what you do so well and so uniquely that people can’t resist telling others about you. Disney reinvented the traditional amusement park. Initial reinventions included: single entry and exit rather than open design – forcing customers to exit through the main shopping area and all the souvenir stands, an innovation now replicated in the exit paths from individual rides and attractions within the parks; price per day versus individual tickets for rides; and the aforementioned cleanliness
A radical approach to innovation and marketing isn’t restricted to big corporations however; there are plenty of small businesses ahead of the curve as well. To be ahead of the game, marketing should not be used as a means of getting a customer or making a sale. Instead, it’s most effectively utilised within the context of dynamically changing the business itself and delivering an entirely different customer experience. With this comprehensive approach, businesses have the potential to thrive.
The hierarchy of income
- At the bottom of the hierarchy lies commodities.
- Next are products and services discussed in terms of features and benefits, provided by vendors and sales people.
- After this lies solutions to problems and fulfillment of unmet desires, provided by experts.
- At the top of the hierarchy are exceptional experiences provided by experts in ‘categories of one’ – in other words, distinctive brands and companies.
Here’s where to begin
Question and be willing to throw out any and every industry norm, tradition, current belief, idea and practice now defining your business, as you advertise, market and operate it and as customers perceive it. Then search for opportunities to make your business something entirely different and more meaningful to the customer than just a provider of goods and services. Very, very, very few business owners are willing to engage in such radicalism. We have a term for them: multimillionaires.