For many the world of marketing is about producing an advert, a website, a brochure or an email blast. The reality is that although these are tactics delivered by marketers, the real skill of marketing, and the huge success that this can deliver to an organisation, lies in developing a clear marketing strategy.
With pressures on those organisations in the education sector and the results they deliver at an all time high, how could a strategic marketing perspective make a positive contribution to a schools development?
What you do and what stakeholders think you do.
Marketers know that it is not what you do – but it is what your customers or prospects think you do that is the key to business success. The example of Gerald Ratner crystalises this point perfectly. From running a billion pound business to bankruptcy almost overnight because he changed the perception of his product in his customers minds – from great value and accessible jewellery, to ‘crap’ (using his language).
Understand your stakeholders mind.
The story of Parker Pens (I am old enough to have been a pupil in secondary school when what pen you used really mattered) shows how customer feedback really does deliver results. Suffering from decreasing sales despite extensive marketing activity to its male dominated user base, the company completed an extensive customer feedback exercise. They found that although the consumers of their products were indeed male, their customers most certainly weren’t! Most pens were boughts as gifts – by females!!!
The power of positioning and brand:
There are numerous examples in the business world of companies that have become hugely successful through marketing and brand development. Some of the most valuable companies in the world have focused key resources on building a compelling brand proposition to its customers and prospects. In recent times Apple has been revered in this context. Yet there are clearly very capable competitors for its products and its pricing policy means that they do not have the cheapest products on the market. It is also rarely first to market with its products. The difference is that its customers are almost ‘evangelical’ about it products. They have recognised that most people do not buy on price – even in difficult economic times. They have created a brand that resonates with customers and prospects at an emotive level.
Einstein stated that ‘We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.’ A strategic marketing perspective understands that the world changes as does the desires and needs of customers and prospects. Organisations that want to be successful don’t just adapt to change – they create the change. Will Apple be successful with its ‘wearable technology’? Would you want to bet against it?
Ian Crossley, Managing Director at Greenhouse Graphics