Let’s start with a basic but key criterion. Marketers have to be comfortable spending time with and listening to consumers. A significant proportion of marketers cannot find the time or the humility to spend time in the market. They are happy briefing research agencies and reviewing the results, but miss the fundamental starting point for any great marketer: get out of your office and spend time in the places and spaces where your consumers experience the product, no matter how senior or ‘important’ you consider yourself.
Next, behavioral segmentation. Too many marketers think segments are people who have similar demographic characteristics. Rubbish. Segments are groups of consumers who want the same things – the fact that they might share an age range, gender or postcode is relevant only after we first use our market research to show specific clusters of shared needs. Segments built from survey data, with good behavioral names and a tight portrait to capture their identity, is a hallmark of a good marketer. The usual ’18-35 male’ crap indicates the opposite.
Then comes targeting. A good marketer has made the leap of faith and accepted that fewer target consumers will deliver a better overall result. Usually, that means stepping back from the segmentation and only going after 10% or 20% of the potential market. Tight target segments mean the marketing has a chance to succeed. Too many marketers lose faith at this stage and end up targeting pretty much everyone.
Which leads nicely to the next feature of a great marketer: being entirely comfortable devoting time and marketing money to excluding the wrong kinds of consumers from your brand. Most marketers, when asked, still don’t know the difference between marketing and sales. Marketing is as much about stopping the wrong people buying a product as ensuring that the right ones do. Usually, the majority of potential consumers in any market will cost you money if you serve them. A good marketer knows this and uses his or her skills to ensure they are avoided.
Next: positioning. A great marketer can create perceptual maps and uses them to derive a clear, tight, three-word positioning for their brand. No wheels or triangles here, just a clear articulation of what the brand stands for. If ever there was a question that sorts the wheat from the chaff, it’s: ‘What is your positioning?’ Too often this is met with a stream of generic crap about integrity and innovation or a ridiculously over-complex, six-slide presentation that attempts to capture the ‘essence’ of the brand. A good marketer answers with a confident smile and few words.
Lastly, brand tracking. Think about what you need in place to successfully conduct this. You have to have a clear positioning statement, know that ultimately brands exist in the consumer’s consciousness, and commit 5%-10% of your marketing budget to research to collect this data on a continual basis.
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