Thursday, July 21, 2011

Marketing isn't the same as advertising

The bane of the senior business executive is without doubt always the marketing department. They are invariably composed of people with business degrees who consistently fail to remember anything they were taught in economics.

They also are masters of the art of briefing out all intellectual work to agencies, brand consultants, researchers, R consultants and all the other people famous for being on that first space ship in Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy (together with the hairdressers and telephone sanitisers).

I was reminded of this by an article that follows the observation that inbound tourist numbers from the US have declined since the Oprah campaign.

I haven't read the stats, and I'm sure they are not an econometric model that tries to separately measure the effects of advertising and promotion and price effects. With the rising Australian dollar we should expect inbound US tourist numbers to decline - but have they declined by less or more as a consequence of the Oprah effect?

The article though says;

I can almost see a boardroom of marketing geniuses when a light bulb appears above someone’s head and then like some idiot savant they start talking about warm weather, coral reefs, Ayers Rock and of course - the final brick walling us in to this national identity tomb - a koala.

And therein lies the rub - why do we equate "marketing" with "advertising and promotion"? Ever heard of the five Ps of the marketing mix (of which - surprise - price is one)?

But even when we think of just the promotion "p", there are a number different levels at which a campaign can be pitched.

  1. Convince a person they should take a holiday in the first place.
  2. Shape the person's preference for what kind of holiday they want to go on.
  3. Demonstrate to the person that Australia offers the kind of holiday they want.
Research driven promotion efforts will almost always result in advertising campaigns designed for option 3.

My points are that true "marketing" of Australia for tourism is as much about product and price as it is promotion; and that the promotion needs to reach beyond simply attempting to appeal to customer's ptre-conceived notions of the holiday they want.

Havyatt's Definition of Marketing: The activities of a firm designed to ensure that the economists assumptions of a free-market do not apply.

Novae Meridianae Demetae Dexter delenda est

1 comment:

ian said...

Marketers are even more the bane of the Engineering department.
My first real run in with marketers was in Telecom Aust (they weren't called marketers at the time).
Some bright spark had the idea to reduce STD rates after 9:00PM, and I did the studies to monitor the impact.
There was a minor increase in call volume (not statistically significant, and unable to distinguish from growth) but a massive peak after 9:00.
This resulted in a loss of revenue and a need for a massive capital expenditure to reduce congestion.
Needless to say, the project was declared a great success.
(Subsequent changes moved the time to 11:00PM and policy was changed to allow poorer Grade of Service.)