Updated: Jul 21
The marketing world is a vastly unique and intriguing place. Having spent twenty years in this field, I have experienced some of the most challenging and rewarding moments in my life. Having the skills and experience to be able to go into a market and appreciate the nuances and perspectives of consumers, brands/companies, and the ever-changing market itself has provided me a different way to see the world that we live in. I spend every day of my life seeing through the eyes of a marketer. I am trained to read into a message or phrase. I am conditioned to ask why decisions are made certain ways and what the primary influences were. I listen and watch to understand others' views and ideas. I step out of myself and into other people's worlds so that I can understand how to best bring the brands and products I represent closer to the audiences that would best align with them.
As a professionally trained and highly educated Marketer, I get to be a scientist, a phycologist, an artist, an analyst, an author, an advocate, a businessman, an innovator, an inventor, and so much more. My work and experience allow me to venture across industries because my job is to learn, know, and understand the market and the consumers. Knowing that the best marketers bring a company, a brand, a product, a service to its audience rather than an audience to a company has allowed me to position myself in being a market professional, a consumer professional, rather than limiting myself to being a brand's professional, or an industry's professional.
To be able to look at an audience, watch them, and talk with them allows a top-level marketer to gain insight into how to provide the audience the unique product or services that get them what they want. This is how the top brands and companies make it to the top. They know that advertising and marketing is not about the company, it's about the audience. For example, Pepsi revitalizes its marketing messaging, campaigns, and efforts for each generation. Identifying trends and icons that are associated with each, in each decade. Pepsi has effectively managed to remain as one of the top two contenders of carbonated beverages. And while, this has been a strong approach to gaining the younger generations' attention, the newest generations today are showing trends that move away from traditional carbonated beverages and towards healthier options. It will be interesting to watch Pepsi move its messaging, campaigns, and efforts to meet these consumers where they are in order to compete with the changing world.
Another major brand that has been particularly intriguing to watch has been Wal-Mart. The 2007 recession changed a lot of things in the market and in the world. Prior to the recession, Wal-Mart was strategically the bargain, low price marketplace. They "rolled back" prices and targeted an audience that was tailored for them. They knew that they were not particularly reaching for higher end consumers that were spending money on name brand items or unique experiences. Wal-Mart was the friendly affordable, cost saving brand for the masses. However, the 2007 recession changed everything. People from up and down the market class were scared, they were losing income, loosing assets, losing jobs. They were looking for an alternative option to get their needed household and grocery supplies. Wal-Mart was positioned to be the hero, if they met their newly expanded audience where they were.
Looking at the changes in their slogan over time, anyone can see the change in their messaging (retrieved from What Is Walmart's Slogan? History, Meaning, & More (8thandwalton.com)):
1962-1988: Always Low Prices. Always.
1988-1994: Always The Low Price
1994-1996: Always Low Prices. Always Walmart.
1996-1999: Better Every Day Low Prices! Always.
1999-2007: Always Low Prices. Always.
2007-present: Save Money. Live Better.
Wal-Mart knew that there was a difference sense of pride or value with the newly available market share, they had a different perspective. They were people that were used to spending a little more because they wanted to "live better". They didn't need or even want low prices; they wanted a better life. But now, they needed to save money because the economy kicked them in the ass. Wal-Mark, if done right, could compete with brands from markets it previously couldn't have. They could gain new customers if th
ey welcomed them, became the hero, and made them feel comfortable shopping at the low-priced marketplace. And they accomplished this by understanding that the phrase "Saving Money" and "Low Prices" were essentially the same information but valued differently by this new audience.
Renovations, slogan updates, expanded product offerings all became a part of Wal-Mart's new strategy. They needed to continue to serve their loyal customer base, but appeal to the new opportunity. And this major household-name brand pivoted to meet its audience where they were.
This is the strength of a truly great marketer. Your marketing professional should challenge your business leaders to think from an outside perspective. Sticking to a brand's status quo, unbending from strict adherence to standards or what works eventually makes the company irrelevant or at best, second best. Annual reviews of a market, the audience, the brand and its products, and competitors provides the most important information and data a company can possess. Knowing, understanding, and moving into this information will build the greatest opportunity to own your market, to dominate your competition, and to not just survive but succeed in economic downturns.
A marketing professional is not an expert at your industry or your brand, they are an expert in the market.