There is nothing new in marketing

This is a long quote from a 1967 article published in Journal of Industrial Economics*. This paper was written as a response to Galbraith’s theory of Consumer Sovereignty.

The sensible manufacturer works with the environment, not against it. He tries to satisfy desires, latent and patent, the consumer already has; it is much cheaper than creating new ones.

First, he tries to identify these desires. To do this he now has all the aids of marketing research. If he only researches into which detergent the consumer considers to wash cleanest, he may miss the fact that the consumer now also wants her detergent to be pleasantly perfumed.

That is why so many of the new products even of the biggest firms fail miserably in test market. It is rarely because they are poor products technically. It is because there is something in their mix of qualities that fails to appeal to the consumer.

Once the manufacturer has found out what he thinks the public wants, he has to embody it in a product.

When the manufacturer does find an answer at a reasonable price, he still has to sell it to the public. He may think the answer will work; he may feel the price to be reasonable. He does not know whether the public will see it as he does.

If you go further back you most likely will find yet another article saying the same thing in more arcane language.

Fast forward to present day and you have exactly the same concepts stated above packaged in so many different ways. Every Guru has a name for it, they want us to believe none of the existing methods work.

Unfortunately, when the audience suspends its skepticism or the Guru is popular enough, their re-packaged ideas take roots.

There really is nothing new in marketing. Only new catch-phrases that fit the language of the time.

*You will find a copy of the said paper from your local library EBSCO host.

Segmentation, Targeting, Positioning and Pricing As Customer Jobs To Be Done

The Customer Jobs to be done is a powerful metaphor introduced by Clayton Christensen in thinking about demand and new product development. Christensen’s framework requires us to view our product as something customers hire to get a job done. With different customers there are different jobs.

The term ‘job’ really represents the unmet need at hand. It covers both utilitarian as well as hedonistic (and hence needs and wants). It also makes sense to view this as ‘hire’ decision since they can either stick with what they already have or switch when they find better alternative.

He illustrated that with an example of why different customers hired milkshake from a fast food restaurant. Understand the different customers and the different jobs you find what product and what prices.

In some sense this isn’t new if you viewed what Ted Levitt wrote 50 years back – “customers are not buying quarter inch drill, they are buying quarter inch hole” – which speaks about the customer need and not the product and its features.

The other solid strategic marketing framework that came from Levitt is

  • (Customer) Segmentation
  • Targeting
  • Positioning
  • Pricing

And the Jobs metaphor fits perfectly well with this tried and tested framework (in strategic marketing there is really nothing new despite what some gurus say). Let me map the STPP to Jobs To Be Done metaphor

Segmentation: I am not talking demographics based indirect segmentation here but the right way of segmenting based on customer needs (or needs based segmentation). You are grouping together customers based on the similar jobs they are trying to get done.

Targeting: Strategy is about making choices. Simply because you mapped out all different segments with their needs does not mean you can serve them all. No one has that level of infinite expertise or resources. You need to find where you will differentiate enough to succeed. There are multiple different customer segments and many different jobs, but which customer and which jobs are you going to target?

Positioning: Positioning is creating a unique, relevant and differentiated positioning in the minds of the customers for your products. From the jobs perspective it is telling them clearly which job you want them to hire for and why your product is the most suited candidate for that job. While your product could be hired for many jobs you want to go after those where you have sufficient differentiation and also pay well. You don’t believe Apple wants customers to hire iPad as a way to display photos on their coffee table, do you?

Pricing: Pricing is your way of getting your fair share of value you create by doing the job. It is what your product gets paid for getting the job done. (I did not run out of things to say on pricing, that has been the main focus of this blog.)

That is it to marketing strategy.