Friday, March 18, 2011

Marketing in its Finest Moment...

Marketing 3.0 is a welcome change. Not only is it my favorite kind of advertising, but it may just do some much-needed good.

The concept of Marketing 3.0 has been around for a while, only on a smaller scale. Typically referred to as "cause marketing", it's objective is to touch the consumer on an emotional level that helps to build or improve the image of a company. If done properly, over time and in conjunction with the company's product advertising, it works wonders. It creates good faith and moves products - the end goal for any company. Philip Kotler takes the idea of "cause marketing" and applies it on a much larger scale, and for good reason. It's in very high demand.

The world has experienced much change over the last 10 years. Financial crisis, increased environmental awareness, a constantly changing digital environment have all fueled a growing state of instability. Consequently these issues have also caused shifts in consumer behavior, and when consumers change behavior, marketers must revisit their strategies. Kotler, "The concept of marketing can be seen as the balancing concept to that of macroeconomics. Whenever the macroeconomic environment changes, so will consumer behavior change, and this will lead marketing to change". In other words, major events occurring over the last 10 years have dominoed, causing a high demand for socio-economic and environmentally responsible companies - the guiding force behind Marketing 3.0.

This isn't as bad as it sounds. Granted, companies not inherently values-driven must do some major overhauls to their business models to include an altruistic initiative or two. Surely they can just pick a cause and say they support it.

Unfortunately, that's not quite the way it works. According to Kotler, the company must be knee-deep in the cause. It must be at the heart of the business. Employees must represent the cause, as must the company's channel partners and the company's spokespeople. It must be addressed on the company's website in its own special section, and any company-driven social media must present it as a key business concern. In order for Marketing 3.0 to be successful, a company's cause must be unifying and well documented as often and to as many people as possible.

A particular type of company that actively subscribes to the principles of Marketing 3.0, Kotler refers to as "The Innovator". In his book Marketing 3.0, Kotler uses DuPont as a prime example. He says, "DuPont, the science company that has existed for more than two centuries, has dramatically transformed itself from being the worst U.S. polluter to one of its greenest corporations...". Today, DuPont invents and manufacturers products that not only do not harm the environment, but have the potential of reversing the damage already done. This is a great example of a company redefining its entire mission to honor a universal human cause - not a small task. Redefining a company's business model, thereby redefining its core mission after it's been in business for awhile is quite costly. But as DuPont proved, it can be done, and successfully.

In today's socio-economic environment, companies must act responsibly. Consumers demand it and the Internet is too powerful to ignore it. Companies must leverage their online intelligence so they can discover the values that mean the most to their customers, and then honor those values as loudly and as often as they can. If they don't, they may find themselves in a state of decline. Companies have to remember that not only do their customers own their brand, their customers are also still king. Only now, their customers have friends - and lots of them.

I think the reasoning behind Marketing 3.0 is wonderful. Regardless whether a company's humanitarian efforts are sincere or not, at some point their contributions will do some good, some where. Whether they provide food and shelter to remote communities on the other side of the globe, or deliver higher education learning opportunities to inner city kids right here at home, these acts are still selfless, even if the bottom-line business objectives aren't.

1 comment:

  1. This is a good summary of the book for a generalist audience.

    How do you see Kotler's ideas relating to your career goal of marketing for non-profits? What happens to the status and work of the non-profit if every company has a cause? And how do they make themselves heard amongst the big-budget marketing campaigns of the socially-aware for-profit?