Recently I did a talk for a lovely group of people. One of the things that came up in our discussions was how marketing is not just for business. There are so many other things that need marketing, because marketing is about fulfilling people’s needs and solving their problems and about communicating to them how you can do that. Hence, most things can benefit from marketing thinking and methods. Here are a few examples:
- Schools can use marketing to attract students – and teachers – believe me, Ivy league schools don’t get the best students and teachers “just because”
- Hobby clubs can use marketing to attract members
- Sports clubs can use marketing to attract better players, or attract an audience (paying or not), or attract better (volunteer) coaches
- People can use marketing to raise awareness for social causes
- Public services can use marketing to create awareness and educate users
- Government organisations can use marketing to raise awareness of their services, improve their image, or educate their users so that things run smoother
- Activist groups can use marketing to spread their ideology and recruit fighters for the cause
- Individuals can use marketing to get their dream job
- Individuals can use marketing to get their dream partner ;)
The list can go on and on and on… I actually challenge you to give me an example of something that you think could not benefit from marketing thinking and methods ;)
Nobody Wants to Kiss a Pig!
However, at this talk, a gentleman asked me about their particular club, and whether it could be marketed to not only get more members, but to get younger members, as the membership group is getting older. I promptly answered that yes, that would of course be possible. And it is. What I did not say at the time, as it was not appropriate, was that in that particular case it would not just require marketing communications, it was not just about how and where they talked to the market, but it would require changes to the core offering itself. Because at the core of marketing is offering something that the market actually wants. In this particular case, I know very well why they are not attracting younger members, and no amount of messaging, social media, advertising, PR or whatever was done, would fix the fact that the core offering did not appeal to the target group they want to reach. They would have to change what they did and what they offered as a membership club.
When you are marketing a product or service, the very first thing you need to consider is whether enough people will want that product or service. You can work from the product or service and find the right target group(s) for them (which is not the ideal way around it, but let’s face it, the way most of us do it, because we start from our passion) or you can work from the target group’s needs and problems, and offer them a product or service which solves this. If there is not a fit there, any marketing activities you do will only be like putting lipstick on a pig that nobody wants to kiss. I mean, if what I want is a hot girl to kiss, no amount of persuasion or makeup is going to get me to kiss that pig! (Unless perhaps on a dare, or if paid to, in which case the role gets reversed, as it is you who have the problem (of the un-kissable pig) and they who provide the solution (kiss the pig for you) for which you pay! :)
Don’t Be A Hamster!
See, you can work harder than anyone for a very long time, and actually be doing great marketing communications. You can know how to use Facebook to the max, twitter, emails, SEO and all that good stuff, but if what you are offering isn’t right for the people you are talking to, none of that will matter. Sure you will get one or two people to buy (or kiss the pig), but they won’t buy again, and they will probably tell others to avoid buying. The fundamental thing is to offer something people want. If you don’t, you need to change your offering.
In the case of this otherwise lovely club in question, they would need to move their meetings to a nicer venue. They would have to offer more flexibility as to attendance. They would have to give the new and younger members a bigger say in what is being done within the club. They would have to be open to new things, new technology and new thinking. If they are not prepared to do this, and more, they will die when their current members die. And this is just as much marketing as it is to use marketing communications to talk to the market.
Is your product or service a hot girl that the right kind of people want to kiss, or are you just putting lipstick on a pig? ;)