Focus Your Marketing to Make Sales

Focus Your Marketing to Make Sales


In order to remain relevant in a fast-changing industry, marketing has to take a long-term view and create a vision for its future. After decades of complacent reliance on techniques that use money to buy market share, marketers must re-invent their discipline or risk becoming less relevant. We should be building a positive vision and identifying related platform opportunities in order to be ready for the year 2020.

This is the current Five Point reality:

More customer participation

Any individual can be a writer, an editor or a publisher. Consider the rapid rise of collaborative buying (Groupon), peer production (YouTube) and co-creation. Customers now participate actively in creating the messaging around your brand.

More customer connections

The number of brand touch-points has multiplied and many are now outside marketing’s remit.

More customer complexity

The customer purchase journey is no longer linear and the drivers of decision-making are complex, messy and real-time.

More customer control

Customers are now more empowered, critical, demanding and price sensitive.

More corporate compliance

Customers no longer distinguish between the product and the organisation.

Given this new context, marketing must therefore shift its focus:

Local application

Some say that as a nation, we should not be overly concerned by global changes because our circumstances and priorities are different. Consider then how the Johannesburg community managed to halt the development of a multi-billion Rand project in SANRAL – largely because of poor communication, lack of community involvement, and no positioning of the value it could add. Essentially, the project had no proper marketing.

In SA, we have specific priorities that deserve consideration within the new global marketing environment. These include education, crime and job creation. Local marketers should be thinking about how they can link their initiatives in a way that is meaningful to the national agenda:

  • Think about how your business can create space and time for South Africans to access self-learning platforms and provide incentives for learners to teach others.
  • Think about how you can support the drive toward an entrepreneur-rich society by providing tools for customers to build their own products and services.
  • Curate the aggregation and distribution of branded services for communities based on knowledge of their local consumption needs and apply a discounting or value-add offerings based on volume.

With the 2020 vision in mind, we can get practical about where marketing should focus its accelerative influence:

1.Your personal content becomes commercial

For a taste of things to come visit:, a music video where every item featured is available to purchase directly through the content.

Think ahead to 2020 and we will see the collision of gaming, entertainment and real-time commerce experiences across all channels where anything seen on video or even on-person in real-life, can be tagged and bought from other consumers.

2.Your personal ideas become services

Services like, a funding platform for creative projects, have been around for a while now and there are intermediary businesses like that will help sell your ideas on to big business.

Think ahead to 2020 and we will see consumers buying ideas from each other to establish new entrepreneurial business opportunities

3.You become your own social bank

Mobile commerce is still in its infancy but there are successful examples of initiatives like M-Pesa which, although built for a different and specific functional purpose, have turned out to be enablers of a more powerful underlying need, and are indicative of how currency will be shared in the future.

Think ahead to 2020 and imagine being able to harness the power of person-to-person lending in parallel with community development.

4.Values become valuable

The power of consumer sentiment in dictating how social values affect the reputation and share price of corporations is clearly evident today. Just ask Goldman Sachs, following the open resignation letter from Greg Smith. People are already able to rate their satisfaction with the manner in which business lives up to what is deemed socially acceptable.

Think ahead to 2020 and imagine if we had a personal ‘values footprint’ for everything we do or consume, beyond carbon and including values like mutual respect.

5.Real-time pricing

Researching off-line then buying on-line behavior is already the prevailing manner of consumer purchasing in developed economies. There is still a significant requirement for bricks and mortar in the developing world but this will change. Physical distribution will play a far smaller part in the future marketing mix.

Think head to 2020 and consider the effect if mass distributors of product are forced to re-configure their value-chains, and associated distribution costs, because influential communities are not willing to pay the difference between real-world and digital-world pricing.

The consumer is drawing the line between business-driven and community-driven commerce. South African marketers must think big, project forward and invest now for a 2020 Future where consumer communities will have greater control of content, communication and commerce.

David Blyth
David Blythe is an experienced marketing and brand strategy practitioner. He joined Yellowwood in 2011 and has subsequently led marketing strategy projects for Liberty Group, Rand Refinery, Sun International and Tsb Sugar. He is currently Yellowwood’s group managing director. Yellowwood is Africa’s leading marketing strategy consultancy, offering insight, strategy, planning and design to clients who are serious about business and brand growth. For more information, contact Yellowwood on +27 (0)11 268 5210 or +27 (0)21 425 0344 or visit
  • Davids’ opening statement, “In order to remain relevant in a fast-changing industry, marketing has
    to take a long-term view and create a vision for its future,” is enough to get most companies taking a renewed resolute stance for their future operations!

    Unfortunately, we often have a misconstrued view of what marketing is, and how it is to be excercised, with strategies only focussed on the “here and now.”

    Long Term Marketing ( 5 > 10 > 15 year strategies ) with great perspective, is a definite MUST for any Firm looking to be around in 10 > 20 years from now.