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the importance of understanding marketing

May 29, 2012

According to Wikipedia, Marketing is

“the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.”

It gets better:

For business to consumer marketing it is “the process by which companies create value for customers and build strong customer relationships, in order to capture value from customers in return”

Maybe marketing is the wrong track. Although, under marketing is “price”, “advertising”, “public relations”, “customer service”, “product”.

Image representing Wikipedia as depicted in Cr...

Image via CrunchBase

Those titles are critical to an overall marketing goal. If the product is no good, or the price is too high (or low), no amount of advertising or PR will help. David Ogilvy once said that a good ad campaign will kill a bad product faster.

But consumers encounter all aspects of marketing on the path to purchase.

The consumer path purchase

General awareness advertising, TV, radio, print are often the tactics that gets someone on the path to purchase.

As they travel along the path, the consumer might see in-store marketing, they might get a coupon, or speak to a salesperson. Depending on the investment of the product, the path to purchase could be 5 seconds (impulse buy), to 5 months (a new house).

Prior to the Internet, the path to purchase often ended with the purchase. Advertising is responsible for making people aware – and thus facilitating purchase – and the product, price and service were responsible for re-purchases. There were exceptions: airlines offered frequent flier miles. Coffee shops offered a free coffee card with ten coffees. These were loyalty programs. (For the mac-daddy of all loyalty programs, check out the Air Miles Reward Program in Canada).

Social media is the path to re-purchase.

In the path to purchase, social media is excellent at the end of the path. Think of the terms: fans, followers, friends, these all imply knowledge or intimacy with a brand. People can’t like a product they haven’t tried. And yet, Facebook is thought of as a mass media company, when there are so many reasons they are different.

Understanding how a tactic fits in the path to purchase and re-purchase is critical for understanding how the tactic fits into marketing.

Each tactic, when they’re combined, can help facilitate a sale or resale. But when used at the wrong point of the path, they simply waste money.

All marketing should change a behavior. Use the path to re-purchase to understand the behavior you are trying to change.

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