Marketing: Parental Guidance Recommended


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For generations, parents have been telling their kids the same things. As kids, we swear that we’ll never say those things to our kids. Then, one day, we are shocked to hear them coming out of our mouths.

So one wonders if there aren’t some elemental truths in these nostrums – and if they might not apply to marketing, and to business in general:

– If everyone is jumping off a bridge, does that mean you should, too?

If everyone is busy chasing a new fad, technique, tool, niche, apparent methodological innovation, does that mean it is right for your business? Will it actually make you more efficient? Is it really the most effective way to reach your customers? What is it you really want to accomplish with it – and will it take you there?

– Finish your vegetables. Then you can have dessert.

Before marketers specialize in particular means of (theoretically) reaching their target audiences, shouldn’t they have grounding in marketing basics? Mobile marketing, for example, is a tool, a method of getting a message out to a particular segment of the population. But mastering the tool doesn’t sharpen the message, or guarantee that it’s the right message, or ensure that whatever the message is actually supports the overall business strategy.

– Look both ways before you cross the street.

The marketplace is a complex and subtle confluence of values, interests, wants, needs, and social and economic imperatives. If you focus too heavily on one aspect of it – no matter how important that appears to be for your business, you can easily miss where the marketplace will be tomorrow.

– Do your homework before you go out to play.

It’s become quite fashionable to assume that you can get all the market information you need through a combination of social media and “big data.” Well, maybe. But what people say on Twitter or Facebook, for example, might or might not reflect how they act. There are platform norms and social pressures at work here; and it is not always wise to take comments at face value. They certainly do not reflect a statistically significant random sample; usually only the people at the extremes of the spectrum comment. As for “big data,” have you verified how it was compiled, what was included and what was not? Have you checked to see if you agree with the conclusions the people selling the data and reports have reached? Do they work for your market space in particular?

As children mature and become adults, it’s a cliché for them to notice how much smarter their parents are getting.

Has marketing matured enough to notice how the basics – understanding your marketplace, emphasizing what value you provide and how you can best communicate it – might still have something to teach us?

Emily R. Coleman
Dr. Emily R. Coleman is President of Competitive Advantage Marketing, Inc., a firm that specializes in helping companies expand their reach and revenues through strategy and implementation. Dr. Coleman has more than 30 years of hands-on executive management experience working with companies, from Fortune 500 firms to entrepreneurial enterprises. Dr. Coleman's expertise extends from the integration of corporate-wide marketing operations and communications to the development and implementation of strategy into product development and branding.


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