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consumer Archives - Syneka Marketing

Setting the standard: Why accreditation matters for marketing

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Imagine, one morning someone enters your office and tells you that they want 20% of your annual turnover because they have a ‘great idea’ to grow your business. They are unable to provide any evidence to support their claims, other than saying they have a ‘great idea’.

It goes without saying, but not many business owners or managers would contemplate making such a transaction.

Unfortunately, this is what marketing often looks like, with far too many decisions made on hunches or guesses, rather than a factual understanding of market needs, positioning and opportunities. As a consequence, marketing consulting and marketing services have a surprisingly low barrier of entry, with anyone able to claim they are a marketing consultant, expert, specialist or even ‘guru’.

Research into business exits often cites the lack of marketing insights as being one of the top ten causes of business failure. This is despite marketing spend often being between 10% and 20% of an annual budget.

The current approach provided by many who claim to provide ‘marketing’ is failing businesses and the wider community.

This is why accreditation matters for marketing, and is why we are so heavily involved with the Australian Marketing Institute (AMI). Accreditation has the potential to uplift the marketing profession and provide a benchmark for the delivery of marketing services.

No business would seek financial advice from someone that lacks appropriate accreditation, given the potential ramifications of bad advice. Yet we as professional marketers, have lost track of the amount of times we have been brought in to fix the mistakes made by pseudo-marketers. It is time to put an end to pseudo-marketers by recognising the definition of marketing (as defined by the Australian Marketing Institute):

Marketing creates value – for customers, shareholders and society as a whole. It does this by creating an alignment between what consumers value and what organisations offer. It offers techniques that help firms better understand the needs, preferences and perceptions of their customers (a prerequisite to adding value to them), and ways of using that understanding to focus the value-creating and communicating activities of the firm into areas where they will be most effective.

Marketing exists to build the capacity of your business so you can achieve your business goals. This is why one of the core marketing concepts is the marketing mix (commonly known as the customer experience):

A strategic marketing approach would have asked the right questions: focusing on all elements rather than just promotions

The marketing mix highlights the areas that marketing needs to consider to enable business growth

The marketing mix shows the impact of marketing across a business, yet pseudo-marketers, the self-proclaimed ‘experts’, ‘specialists’ or ‘gurus’ will often only focus on one or two elements. This leads to disparate tactics that will create inconsistent outcomes, ultimately resulting in reputation and operational risks.

The Certified Practising Marketer - as accredited by the Australian Marketing Institute

The Certified Practising Marketer – as accredited by the Australian Marketing Institute

The Certified Practising Marketer (CPM) designation is accredited by the Australian Marketing Institute and sets the standard for the marketing profession.

Certified Practising Marketer (CPM) accreditation assesses academic and professional experience to ensure that there is an understanding, as well as ability to apply marketing. Accreditation means a commitment to the Australian Marketing Institute’s Code of Conduct and the requirement of continuing professional development to ensure ongoing learning.

A Certified Practising Marketer (CPM) understands that marketing is more than disparate tactics. A Certified Practising Marketer (CPM) realises that marketing is the strategic alignment between business goals and marketing outcomes, resulting in a measurable and positive impact on business growth and innovation.

At Syneka Marketing we are proud of our ongoing involvement with the Australian Marketing Institute. Our founder, Alex Makin is the State Chair of the Australian Marketing Institute’s Victorian Advisory Committee and our leadership team maintains Certified Practising Marketer (CPM) accreditation.

Do not risk your business with pretenders that lack accreditation and industry recognition. Accreditation matters for marketing, just as it does for Accountants, Lawyers and Engineers.

We’ve defined customer experience – now connect it to the customer journey

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We recently discussed the need for marketing to move beyond buzzwords and to instead re-claim the definition of customer experience, which forms the very core of marketing theory. Our thoughts have now been viewed organically by over 5000 people in just 48 hours via LinkedIn, and continues to be actively being shared across key social media channels.

Interest in this article has demonstrated why marketing needs to reclaim its core remit, so today we are going to exploring another buzzword: customer journey.

In defining the customer experience, we returned to the core of marketing theory through the marketing mix. The overall customer experience is going to be defined by the impact of the impressions that are made across each of these elements.

We need to return to fundamentals to explore the customer journey, as we explore the steps that are taken for someone to become a customer and ideally remain so on an ongoing basis.

Phases in the Customer Journey

There are three interconnected phases within the customer journey:

  • Pre-purchase – where the aim is to raise awareness with your target markets and ensure that your brand is actively considered by these prospective customers.
  • The Purchase phase – where the prospect becomes a customer. This is where they commit to purchasing your product or service and the perceptions of its brand.
  • The Post-purchase phase – where your customer considers the outcomes and value they received, based on their perceptions and the outcomes that were achieved.

The three phases of the customer journey as mapped to the decision making process
The three phases of the customer journey as mapped to the decision making process.

 

The Decision Making Process has its origins in consumer behaviour stemming from the 1960s. We have adapted this model to explore each phase in the customer journey, as viewed through the decision making process. It explores both the rational (such as pricing and function) and perceptual (attitudes and subjective impressions) aspects that influence the decision.

The customer journey is not linear and this particularly true if there is a desire to build loyalty and repeat purchases. The experience you are creating through the marketing mix will impact on the ability to successfully transition your target market through the customer journey. The customer experience relates to their interaction with your business or brand, while the customer journey views this from the customer perspective as they identify the best fit for their needs.

Like other buzzwords in marketing there is a need to return to core principles, a Marketing Manager should have the ability to influence factors that assist in transitioning customers through the journey.  We will be continuing this series as we turn our attention to measuring both the customer experience and journey.

Defining the Customer Experience

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Marketing has the unfortunate tendency to latch onto buzzwords, with little consideration being given to their meaning or intent. Customer Experience, also known as User Experience, is one of these trends, with the term becoming increasingly corrupted in its application.

Despite what some may say, focusing on the customer experience is not a new concept. The customer experience is embedded in the foundations of marketing theory that originated in the 1950s, and was later expanded into the 4Ps and subsequently the 7Ps of marketing. These concepts form the foundations of marketing.

The aim of the marketing mix was to define marketing as a function that operates across a business, ensuring a consistent experience from a customer perspective. As a result, the marketing mix encompasses key areas that marketing should have visibility across your business.

The Marketing Mix (otherwise known as the 7Ps of Marketing)

Unfortunately in many businesses marketing is often limited in scope to only a few elements in the marketing mix. As a result, there are inconsistencies that are formed, such as products that are not aligned with promotions, pricing that diminishes value, or processes that cause complications in delivery. Ultimately an inconsistent experience can erode purchase intent, as well as frequency, given it causes confusion that can often lead to inaction.

Fast forward 50 years later, and the term customer experience is now in vogue.

Unfortunately the term customer experience, tends to only scratch the surface. In many cases the customer (that is the person using your product or service), may not necessarily be the person responsible for making the decision or committing to the purchase. This is particularly true in business markets, where there is often the need to engage a number of key stakeholders. Examples also apply to consumer markets, such as chocolates that are consumed by children, but paid for by their parent, who is the final decision maker that approves the purchase.

While it is certainly encouraging to see a return to the customer experience, it is important they we do not lose sight of the broader marketing context. Often there is the need to not only understand users and customers, but the entire decision making process.

Marketing can deliver value – even during economic uncertainty

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Australia has faced several years of economic uncertainty and the latest trends appear to be indicating that a recession is on the horizon. Marketing is often one of the first areas to experience downsizing during economic uncertainty. This is largely due to a lack of measurability, resulting in marketing being seen as a cost centre rather than revenue generator.

This cycle is perpetuated through an execution led approach to marketing. Operating marketing as a silo, results in a lack of consistency between business goals and marketing outcomes. Agencies will typically take carriage of specific functions, such as design, content or social media, but there is a failure to fully appreciate the marketing mix, and the need to align execution with the identified strategic direction.

It is time to change this paradigm. Marketing needs to return to its core definition of delivering value, as per the definition adopted by the Australian Marketing Institute:

Marketing creates value – for customers, shareholders and society as a whole. It does this by creating an alignment between what consumers value and what organisations offer. It offers techniques that help firms better understand the needs, preferences and perceptions of their customers (a prerequisite to adding value to them), and ways of using that understanding to focus the value-creating and communicating activities of the firm into areas where they will be most effective.

The creation of value through marketing is what enables a business to expand its capacity. While economic conditions will have an impact, the role of marketing is to rise above these challenges and deliver ongoing value creation.

Proctor and Gamble is one such example. During the Great Depression of the 1930s, consumer goods were hit hard. Rather than cutting its marketing function, Proctor and Gamble, shifted its focus to essential household items. The solution came in the form of Oxydol, one of its soap brands, which made it easier to wash clothes, in an era where washing required extensive physical labour. After defining the product and its value proposition, Proctor and Gamble focused on how it could reach its target customers.

In an era where other companies were slashing marketing activities, Proctor and Gamble rehoned its approach to take into account the difficult economic conditions. Initiatives included a re-orientation towards commercial radio broadcasts, reaching consumers through a medium that was affordable to consumers, while offering positivity in an otherwise negative environment.

Pioneering both personas and content, Proctor and Gamble personified the product through the creation of Oxydol’s Own Ma Perkins and created the genre of soap operas along the way.

The Great Depression could have easily been a time of despair for Proctor and Gamble, but instead it re-examined the market context and gained a deeper understanding of its consumers. The marketing execution was the output of a strategic approach that ultimately saw the company achieve growth during times that many others failed.

If marketing rose to the challenge and re-connected with the need to demonstrate value, then marketing would be seen as the function that enables businesses to build capacity. It is time for the marketing profession to not repeat past mistakes, but instead to re-align itself with value and the delivery of metrics that matter.

Marketing exists to create value and enable you to build your capacity to achieve your business goals.

Our mission is to re-define marketing

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One area which we continually reflect upon is the diluted definition of marketing. Formal definitions for marketing include the following from the American Marketing Association:

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.

With the Australian Marketing Institute (of which I am the Victorian State Chair) providing a similar view:

Marketing creates value – for customers, shareholders and society as a whole. It does this by creating an alignment between what consumers value and what organisations offer. It offers techniques that help firms better understand the needs, preferences and perceptions of their customers (a prerequisite to adding value to them), and ways of using that understanding to focus the value-creating and communicating activities of the firm into areas where they will be most effective.

Key terms in these definitions relate to the creation of value for all stakeholders. This enables you to build your capacity to achieve your business goals and to measure its impact.

Marketing exists to create value and enable you to build your capacity to achieve your business goals.

It is the notion of value that is often lost in the traditional execution led approach to marketing. This is why we lead through strategy, ensuring that marketing exists to support your strategic plan and direction into the futre.

We are intent on re-defining marketing to ensure it returns to its core definition. This is why we have been holding our re-defining and re-imaging marketing workshops throughout this year.

There is a need to redefine marketing based on definitions adopted by peak marketing associations.

Marketing isn’t Dead, but it does need to be redefined

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Last week The Harvard Business Review Online published an article ‘Marketing Is Dead, and Loyalty Killed It’, which, due to its sensationalist headline was quickly circulated via social media.

While I normally wouldn’t respond to such content, the fact that it has been published on a reputable online platform, and came up in several conversations over the week, has led me to revisit how marketing does need to be redefined.

There is a need to redefine marketing based on definitions adopted by peak marketing associations.

There is a need to redefine marketing based on definitions adopted by peak marketing associations.

While the author claims that the Chief Marketing Officer should be replaced by the Chief Loyalty Officer, there is a failure to recognise that loyalty is created through a brand, which is executed through a marketing plan.

As a result, the premise is incorrect, given that the author defines marketing as “selling products”, and not 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 (American Marketing Association, Definition of Marketing, Approved July 2013), which is a viewpoint shared by the Australian Marketing Institute.

Furthermore, the case studies, which cite Chioptle and Apple, fail to recognise the role of marketing in creating the value proposition that fosters ongoing customer loyalty.

Apple has strong consumer loyalty, due to its disruptive approach to technology, which encompasses quality, design, ease of use, as well as an ecosystem that serves to cross-sell and support complementary products. This loyalty was fostered through a marketing approach that executed each of these elements in a consistent and seamless manner. What Apple has done well is determine its strategic marketing direction and follow this through with execution. The few times this execution has been underwhelming, there has been a negative reaction to its overall brand value. As an example, the replacement of Google Maps, with Apple Maps, which at the time did not meet the perception of quality, demonstrated how an inconsistent approach adversely impacted the brand and marketing approach.

Loyalty is not created, it is initiated through a strategic marketing plan that recognises the importance of customers. These customers serve as evangelists, and in turn stimulate repeat purchases, as well as support complementary products or services. Apple in devising its approach to the iPod and iPhone, would have recognised that its customers, and in particularly its niche in design, were an existing strength.

The narrow viewpoint of marketing is unfortunately far too common. What is unexpected, however is when a reputable platform, such as the Harvard Business Review, publishes such views.

Marketing begins with strategy. This strategic direction identifies the value proposition and the marketing mix that is required to achieve these outcomes. For many businesses loyalty is a direction that is part of this mix.

Marketing does need to be redefined, primarily because far too many people have been able to claim that they are ‘marketers’, without adhering to a professional standard. The author of ‘ Marketing Is Dead, and Loyalty Killed It’ is a clear example of this.