13 October 2018

Marketing is plain sailing

Marketing is easy, but only if you really understand it.

And most people do not.

Most people think that marketing is powerful, that it can make people do things that they would not otherwise do.

We have a long history of being scared of such things - like hypnosis, subliminal messaging, hard sell salespeople, etc.

But just because we're scared of the bogeyman doesn't mean that he exists! Subliminal advertising was debunked decades ago - but many still believe it.

Marketing is like sailing. It does have the potential to be incredibly powerful, to drive ships around the world at considerable speed.

But the ship itself has no power. Rather, it is designed to harness the power of the wind.

And good marketing is designed to harness the power of the market, most notably, the will of the customer.

The customer's will, like the wind, is mindless. There is a clear direction in both wind and customer will, but knowing why it is going that way is difficult to know. Individual consumers are like the wind - drawn ineluctably in a particular direction, but without knowing why. Many times as consumers, we are drawn to things without really understanding why or how. 

The smart marketer feels the will of the customer on her face, and uses it to navigate in the direction she wants to go. 

In this view, the marketer no more leads the customer than the sailor leads the wind.

Yes, the sailor has a destination in mind, and sometimes, those destinations are difficult to reach. For those destinations, the sailor needs special skills, plotting angles and using the wind while tacking towards their destination. 

Sometimes, the destination is difficult to reach, it is a point within a cove laying to windward. In this situation, the wise sailor will lay off, and wait until the wind is blowing in a more favourable direction.

If the marketer is finding her job difficult, it may be because she is trying to oppose winds and currents that make up the market.

Marketing is like sailing. Progress is made by marshalling the power of the market. Good sailors use the wind, great sailors anticipate the wind.

Good marketers meet the market's will, great marketers anticipate the market's will.

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