It is a common perception that “marketing” is simply advertising — print adverts, TV adverts, competitions in magazines — all that pretty stuff. It is not surprising that this view is held, since even some of the people working in marketing have roles wholly dedicated to this side of the discipline.
Of course all of these things ARE marketing. However, I subscribe to a different point of view, one that is borne out of my marketing training in some of the most successful branded businesses in the world. In the fast moving consumer goods industry (FMCG), those in marketing do “brand management” — they run the brand like a little business.
This means that they manage every aspect of the brand — the pricing, how it looks, what it is called, how it tastes/works and the communications about it. Subscribing to this school of thought defines marketing as encompassing every part of your business or product that touches your customer or consumer.
This perspective can be particularly useful to those of us launching new brands and businesses, as it puts your customer at the very heart of everything that you do, making you more likely to succeed. In world-class branded businesses, new innovation is planned and developed in such a way that every aspect of that product is created with the customer in mind — from where to buy it, right through to what you say about it.
And a start-up is no different — using the same approaches you can create a winning product by thinking of your ideal customer every step of the way.
My friend and founder of Moma Breakfasts presents the perfect example of this done well: Tom Mercer knew his ideal customers were busy commuters in train stations, and so he did not rest until he could sell his healthy breakfasts on carts in train stations, just at breakfast time. Tom made major strategic decisions about his business based on what was right for his potential customers — and he has a winning business model as a result.
Christina Richardson is the founder of The Nurture Network, offering marketing and strategy expertise to start-ups and entrepreneurial businesses.