The Core

Essentials of Marketing

Justin Bieber, a product of great marketing

Step 1: Make people aware of the product

These days that effort has extended to “following” brands on Twitter, “friending” them on Facebook, and subscribing to video messages on YouTube and other pipelines of that genre, among many other platforms that seek to invade personal space with public messaging.

Step 2: Create a perception of need of which the client/user was previously unaware. Classic examples of this marketing phenomenon are all around us, and include:

Deodorant: The concept of body odor was invented by Madison Avenue sometime in the 1920s or 1930s, when new products to cure new ailments needed a market. This phenomenon hit its absolute apex (or nadir, depending on how your position) with the development of vaginal spray in the 1960s, and has since somewhat abated. But the multitudes of vitamins, minerals, placebos, nostrums, supplements, additives, wheat germs, liquids, solids, powders, tablets, pills and sprays that we consume for mysterious reasons are a wonder of modern marketing, while we smugly laugh at the ancients who applied leeches to cure headaches. True, leeches weren’t branded, but they were so primitive back then

Step #3. Acquaint the target of the benefits of the product relative to others of its type.

Political parties: Republicans are red. Democrats are blue. Republicans are wary of any limitations on semiautomatic weapons not so much because they believe in them, but because that’s part of their brand. Republicans are also more tenacious and less prone to compromise, at least at this writing. They are truculent and inflexible in the face of opposition and sometimes even common sense. Democrats, at this juncture, appear to be pussies. Some rebranding in that area may be called for.

Step #4. Align the properties of the product with the perceived lifestyle and self-image of the user. Once a thing is branded, it is the job of the marketer to make consumers see that product and its brand as potentially part of their selves, their lives, their concept of who they are and how others see them.

Image-based vices: Before they were banned from the airwaves, the tobacco industry crafted out self-defining images for a variety of smokers—appealing to people who wanted some form of self-definition lacking in their daily lives. Liberated women who had “come a long way” in the 1960s had their own image booster: Virginia Slims, a cigarette as long and skinny as the models who appeared in the marketing effort. Men in search of enhanced macho had an icon to worship as well—the Marlboro Man, with a face as leathery as his saddle.

Now that smoking is deglamorized and ostracized in most social venues, it has fallen to liquor to help define the image of those who feel something vague about themselves. A bunch of hipsters arrive in a private plane. They sweep down the stairs of the G5, laughing, clearly preparing for a night in Gomorrah. Look! Who’s that? It’s Diddy! Who’s that with him? Jesse from Breaking Bad! And just look at the ladies with them! God, don’t you wish you were there? Well, you can’t be. But you can drink the vodka they’re drinking. It’s Cîroc. There isn’t a word said about the taste or quality of the vodka in the spot, by the way. Its association with these playas is enough. A little bit of that life can be yours if you buy into it. That’s marketing, and it works. The vodka isn’t bad, either, even if it is made from grapes.

For further information on the lessons contained here, refer to The Curriculum: Everything You Need To Know To Be A Master of Business Arts.




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