Posted on March 26th, 2014
The more marketing changes, the more it stays the same. Or, as the Talking Heads would say, “same as it ever was.”
Earlier this week, I gave a talk in an International Marketing class at Boston University’s Isenberg School of Management taught by former Reebok colleague + good friend, Pat Hambrick. Preparing for Monday morning’s class (MK 467 for those who sweat the details) by reading the syllabus (there’s a first time for everything) I realized that I had taken the exact same class during my fun-filled stay at Villanova’s School Of Business over 25 years ago. Once I got over the bustle in my hedgerow about my age, it struck me that so much has changed in marketing over the past 25 years – yet the fundamentals of marketing haven’t changed at all.
The course description reads:
The principal objective of this course is to help you develop a critical appreciation of both the opportunities and challenges associated with the increasing globalization of markets. During the semester, you will learn about the key environmental forces shaping consumer needs and preferences, the impact of foreign political and economic factors on U.S. companies, the influence of international competition, market segmentation and strategy decisions specific to international marketing. You will:
- Assess various foreign markets
- Analyze the impact of cultural, social, political and economic factors on marketing strategies
- Determine when to use different market entry and penetration strategies
- Examine the different skills and systems required to implement marketing strategies across country borders
Since 1989 – a couple little things have irrevocably changed the marketing landscape thanks to Al Gore and his invention of the Internet:
Email. Even if you’re still firstname.lastname@example.org. Or you Yahoo! Websites. Ecommerce. YourBusinessHere.com. Unless its Pets.com of course. Social media. Whether you use it to organize an uprising or post a selfie or your entire Occupy movement Tebowing. Blogs. Tumblr. Mom blogs. Fashion blogs. Moms blogging about fashion on their Tumblr. YouTube. Cat videos. Cellphones. Smartphones. Laptops. Tablets. Chromebooks. MP3s. Napster. MP3 players. iPods. Pandora. Spotify. Kindle. Wal*Mart. Amazon. Infoseek. HotBot. Yahoo. SEO. AdWords. The Google. The world is flat. Everything is global. Brands can’t get away with anything. How’s that new Gap logo looking? The CMO has the shortest tenure of all executives.There’s no such thing as a one-company career. Unless your name is Zuckerberg, Gates or Brin. Google Analytics. Anyone can easily start a business now. Lean Startup. Squarespace. Amazon Web Services. Must See TV is now on DVRs + Netflix, only occasionally on NBC. Reviews aren’t in the paper, they’re on Amazon, Yelp and Rotten Tomatoes. Speed. Apple.
And hundreds if not thousands of others. An innovation-driven economy never stops changing, evolving + moving forward.
But while the tools and mediums have evolved and been disrupted, the fundamentals of great marketing are the same:
- Product is king (or queen, depending on your orientation). Without a great product, marketing doesn’t matter.
- Customer understanding, insight and conversation is central + critical to building a great product.
- Understanding how to connect with them is both an art + a science. All of the tools listed above have changed the ways companies are able to connect with potential customers.
- Your brand is everything you do. Including your product + your people. Even more important now when you can’t have any weak links or the Twitterverse will not be shy about pointing out your flaws to the world. No matter how small you might be.
- We’re all in sales.
So as we wind on down the road, be current on major shifts in mediums, tactics and on never forget the fundamentals.
And remember, there is no finish line.