Wage Marketing ­ Not War

By James Jarrett, CIM (UK), F.C.Inst.M.,
Chair, Canadian Institute of Marketing

According to the Canadian Institute of Marketing, our profession, marketing, is the management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably. This includes all functions of development, research, planning, design, pricing, packaging, advertising and promotion, public relations, sales distribution and after-sales service.

Marketing to be effective, means a total awareness and commitment of anyone in the organization. Anything less is an open invitation to disaster. Marketing also means recognition that it is the customer, not the company that pays the freight. The company merely rearranges the cash received from satisfied customers.

Marketing could be considered full-scale open warfare. General Von Clauswitz wrote a treatise entitled How to Wage War and his recommendations can easily be applied to business, and the use of people and resources.

Von Clauswitz’s first point stresses a total commitment of personnel and resources to the undertaking. All personnel from top to bottom must be involved. For example, the cleaning staff in a hotel is just as important as the superb cuisine and comfortable facilities. If the lobby is unkempt, then the potential guest may look for another hotel.

His second point: Effective scouting (research) is vital. It will detect the enemy’s strengths and weaknesses. The more information one has about competitors, the less likely is the chance of over-estimating their size and power. In fact, a professional marketer should know his competitor’s products and services as well as he knows his own. This will eliminate nasty surprises.

Research completed, Von Clauswitz says to pick a weak point (niche). It may be a competitor’s weak spot or a market niche that has been overlooked. A full-scale frontal attack is often a waste of time, material and personnel.

Finally, the master plan requires all the resources on hand to capitalize on a breakthrough. For example, nothing demoralizes a sales department more quickly than to run out of products to sell, when customers are willing and eager to buy.

Experienced marketers know that there is an element of reality in the analogy of marketing as warfare. Sometimes a view from the high ground, and knowledge why some turning points in history took place during a strategic battle, add a different perspective to a marketing challenge. It can certainly make interesting reading!

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