Counting the missed opportunities in marketing
Ditch the 4Ps of marketing, or rework it for today's needs. Any which way one looks at it, marketing managers' roles have been upended. Image Credit: Gulf News

A conversation with an ex-colleague led to an interesting observation. I was in a Zoom conversation with Andrew, a communication professional who has worked for many multi-cultural companies. (I quite don’t like the tag of multinational.)

Joining me was Andrews’s son, a business graduate who is now employed as a marketing manager with a tech-supported, home services platform in Ireland. Due to the curious commonality of both their educational backgrounds and work profiles, the conversation soon turned into a comparison around how both father and son seem to have had vastly different work experiences.

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Different times

Even though they performed identical roles as marketing managers for their respective employers, albeit separated by about 30 years.

Andrew’s view was that when he was a marketing manager with one of leading FMCG firm, his role was more broad-based. He, in his own words, was “responsible for all 4Ps of marketing” – referring to the classical mix of product, price, placement and promotion that all marketing students are taught during their MBA.

Ditch the Ps

In comparison, his son, though nominally a marketing manager himself, by his own admission, gets to focus mostly on tasks that can be classified as sub-sets of digital marketing. The bulk of his work pertains to managing his company’s social media presence and content management, plus influencer marketing activities, which also happen to rely dominantly on digital channels.

According to him, aspects of his job that relate to product or placement matters typically are taken care of by his techie teammates. The product (or service, in his case) is largely tech-supported and so is fulfillment. Pricing is mostly partner and incentive-driven, and is not something that a marketing manager in his company typically gets to manage closely. There is a gradual change that has been underway in the marketing discipline.

In the past decade, digital marketing had taken on the role of the erstwhile marketing manager almost completely.

Now marketing managers end up performing the role of digital marketing managers. They deploy diverse techniques to target, sell, track and manage customers through the entire purchase journey. This has led to many traditional marketing approaches becoming irrelevant. Do you hear of these now days?

Product promotion – Is it one P or four?

According to the classical mix, the promotion element, though itself an amalgam of advertising, direct mail and publicity/PR, is just one part out of its four core constituents. However, an array of prefixes have been added to the ‘marketing’ discipline itself, turning the entire digital marketing playbook into a microcosm of sorts. There's social media marketing, experiential marketing, viral marketing, mobile marketing, influencer marketing, referral marketing, and so on.

The result is that the P of promotion has now assumed a larger than life existence of its own and subsumed the other components, making everyone forget that there is more to marketing than just promotions.

Simple vs. complex mix

Traditional marketers kept their marketing plans simple and cohesive (part of it was due to the business environment too). Now, fragmentation has led to much complexity.

A brand has so many avenues and platforms to keep and manage. Constant engagement and brand vitality are the need of the hour.

Within digital advertising itself, there are numerous platforms with multiple creative formats - cookies, pixels, ad languages, video formats... the list is endless. In other words, with digital marketing, one cannot be simple anymore.

Return on investment

In earlier days, whenever the top boss enquired about ROI of marketing investments, the response of brand managers would be "there’s no direct attribution of data available; at best we’ll use surrogates of some time-tested assumptions and extrapolate...".

Ditch the gut instinct

Now, with digital marketing taking centrestage, practically everything is precisely measurable. So, no more room for gut feel. Yet, notwithstanding the above, while it might appear that all traditional marketing principles have been upended, some things have remained unchanged.

One of them is having a compelling brand proposition based on sharp differentiation...

- Jaideep Merh is a Dubai-based brand commentator and ad professional.