While I was having a couple of drinks at a London bar the other night I was intrigued by the art on display. It consisted of paintings and collages of popular icons and brands, splattered with vivid colours and statements. All works was made by a single artist – Kristian Von Hornsleth.
Reading through the pamphlet outlining his exhibition and personal story, I took firm notice of the quote:
“There is no product, only marketing.”
This got me thinking – is that so, still?
If you’ve read the Purple Cow by Seth Godin, you’re probably familiar with the concept of the “TV-Industrial complex” which sound like what Hornsleth is referring to in his quote. This is the idea that marketers in the past could sell pretty much anything with the right amount of advertising through mass media such as television. Godin on the other hand has argued for the past decade or so that the success of this system is coming to a rapid end. And I am inclined to a agree.
While there is still definite power in clued-up marketing, I firmly believe that that the success lies in the product and service that you’re selling.
Clever marketing will still give you initial eyeballs, test drives, and purchases. But if you’re hoping for life time value and referrals it’s now more than ever down to the product. In an increasingly connected world beyond geographies and areas of expertise, the consumers power has increased exponentially with the use of social media.
The bottom line is that unless your product is up to scratch, consumers will find out soon enough and tell their peers. And that little pickle won’t be solved by throwing more money at advertising.
By no means would I imply that marketing is dead or has diminished in importance (that would be rather silly as a marketing consultant), I simply believe that its role has changed – marketing in a social and interconnected world should be more closely connected to customer service and R&D.