How marketers do marketing differently from non-marketers
To begin with, what is a digital marketing agency doing talking about marketing? Well, it’s because we consider ourselves to be first and foremost a marketing company. It so happens we use digital methods of marketing, but a considerable part of the work is simply good marketing.
Every day, we work with several clients and talk to other prospective ones who are looking for digital marketing. Many of the people we talk to are non-marketers (little or no marketing experience and training) or are marketers with limited resources at their disposal. These could be B2B organizations, organizations looking for online lead generation and medium or small sized organizations without a full marketing department, for example. (In this context, see also this recent post where I talk of non-marketers).
In close to 12 years of running Interskale, I have found one underlying, all-encompassing trend. Non-marketing people and under resourced marketers (for simplicity, let’s call both ‘non-marketers’ here on) look at marketing and digital marketing in a particular way, a way different from how classical marketers would.
Non-marketers tend to focus on tactics i.e. techniques and tools that can help them achieve their objectives. What is the ad platform? What is the communication? What are the SEO techniques needed for my website? What is the technology or CMS for the website? Will email marketing help? And so on. They are looking for tactical ways of going from the present state A (say, number of leads a day or packs sold a day) to an incrementally better state B.
And what do ‘classical marketers’ have in common that non-marketers don’t? I have found that they always practice marketing planning.
What is marketing planning? The latest 16th edition of Marketing Management (Philip Kotler) talks of the G-STIC approach to planning, where G stands for goals and includes focus and benchmarks, S for strategy which is about target markets and value proposition, T for 7 tactics (an enlarged version of the 4Ps) which are product, service, brand, price, incentives, communication and distribution, I for implementation consisting of developing and deploying the offering and C for control which is about company performance and changes in the market environment.
To put it briefly, marketers follow a planning process. And their plans are formal and written down.
The non-marketers don’t plan as well.
Let’s just look at the first part of the G-STIC marketing planning viz. Goals. Marketers have sharply defined goals. A typical goal is to achieve a defined market share. The market size is defined, thereafter the own product or brand’s market share determined, a target market share is set and lastly ways identified to achieve this market share.
This is well seen among consumer companies. Coca Cola would like to achieve a high “share of throat” i.e. share of liquids drunk by consumers. The key marketing metric at the cigarettes company I worked for in the 90s was target volume share. In an industry of 150+ brands, we tracked volume shares of our and our competitors brands, month on month, across 500+ markets in the country (through a sophisticated marketing intelligence system). Likewise, consumer and food retail companies with a wide product assortment track their company’s “share of wallet” vis-a-vis competition.
Likewise, marketers set other, secondary goals such as share of voice, brand preference and price premiumization. In the cigarettes market I talked of above, while company volume market share was the overall goal, a secondary goal was YUAS. YUAS stood for Young Urban Adult Share. In this industry, a steady or growing YAUS was necessary for achieving the overall company market share.
How digital marketing can help
All business people, even if not marketers by profession, need to set marketing goals. However, one problem such organizations face is lack of data in setting such goals.
This is where digital marketing can help.
Let me illustrate this with a couple of real-life cases from our work at Interskale.
Case 1 Tera Farm
Tera Farms (tera.org) is a non-profit in California for locally, organically grown vegetables and fruits. The nonprofit aims to cut out the middleman: the farmers make supplies biweekly direct to consumers. Profits accrue only to the farmers themselves (‘tera’ in Hindi = ‘you’). The company is promoted by an entrepreneur with a tech, non-marketing background.
The main marketing method in use has been email marketing. A weekly mailer is sent out detailing the produce that’s available for sale. So far, 4,000 customers have bought Tera Farm’s products and the email data base is a little larger than this.
We looked at the website’s analytics data. We found over 60,000 unique visitors had visited the website since inception. And that most of the visits were direct, not from the emailers. It is evident that there was word of mouth.
60,000 is a proxy for the size of the market. If so, less than 10% of the market had been served. Further, an analysis of the visitor numbers by county and zip code revealed where the visitors were coming from. These are the areas where Tera Farm needed to have better distribution and outreach, in order to grow.
Another analysis was done for what searches are happening on the site (using ‘site search’). It was seen that the maximum number of searches were for ‘kale.’ Another half dozen products were in the most searched items list. These are the fruits and vegetables in demand. The farmers of Tera Farm should grow these whenever possible.
Thus, a simple analysis of website and analytics data helped in making a better plan.
Case 2 BNQ India
BNQ India* is a leading global hearing care provider. Like many medium sized organizations, it does have a Marketing Head and a marketing budget and it uses digital marketing actively but does not do much other marketing.
The company does not have much consumer data – e.g. market research data – for marketing planning purposes. Google Search keyword planning data viz. number of searches was used as a proxy for the trends in the market. Here are some ways in which this was done.
• Number of searches for BNQ brand vis-à-vis competition was used to determine the relative brand strength
• The company partners with multiple manufacturers of hearing aids, acting as the reseller or distributor for a few hundred models. The number of searches for the individual manufacturers and models was used as a proxy for their popularity.
• The company operates clinics in over 50 cities in the country. A list of possible next set of target markets was drawn up by looking at the number of searches in the other tier 1 and tier 2 cities in the country.
• The company has classically considered Awaz* (a leading global player) as their no. 1 competitor. The digital marketing agency found that in the cities BNQ operates in, there were 80 small hearing care clinic companies (some were single clinics) being searched for. The total volume of searches from these far exceeded those for Awaz or for that matter for BNQ. Thus, keyword volume analysis showed that the market is highly fragmented. The marketing task for the company is to not only combat the aggressive marketing of Awaz but as or more importantly show itself as a superior alternative to the smaller clinics.
Conventional market research to identify above trends would have been a laborious, time-intensive and expensive exercise. The data from digital marketing (Google Search and some other) was instead found to be a good substitute.
The above couple of examples show how analyses – done with digital marketing data – can benefit every business.
To sum up:
• There is a particular way marketers – at organizations with an evolved marketing approach – work. Marketing planning is fundamental to this.
• For best results, non-marketers too need to incorporate such planning in their work
• Digital marketing can very easily help non-marketers set goals and generate data for marketing planning
• As a corollary, organizations who look only at operational metrics in digital marketing e.g. CTR, CPC and conversion rate are possibly missing the larger picture possible with digital data: the state of the market, their own market position, opportunities available et al
*Not the actual name
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