The Future of Marketing
Presentation to Karori (Wellington) Rotary, July 1997
By Theo Muller
Good evening ladies and gentlemen. I am delighted to be with you and speak to you about a favourite subject of mine: Marketing and more specifically Relationship Marketing.
Even though I qualified as a lawyer 23 years ago, my passion lies with marketing and particularly marketing in professional services firms.
When I started my career in marketing I never thought that I would ever work with law firms and here I am advising them on their marketing requirements.
Marketing in its simplest form - like selling and trading - has been around for as long as humans have been on this earth ( here I tell the story of my forebears who were door-to-door salesmen). However, marketing as distinct from selling did not commence till earlier this century.
What I would like to talk about this evening is the evolution of marketing and the future of marketing. In order to understand what may happen in the future, it is probably handy to see what happened in the past. When we come to talk about the future of marketing I will share with you my passion which is Relationship Marketing.
First of all - Marketing is not a science; it is a learnable skill. I acknowledge that many academics have made and will continue to make many attempts to turn it into a science but that is only to justify the price of their textbooks.
Marketing is nothing more than the ability to develop and maintain a credible ongoing business relationship between buyer and seller - Sounds like selling? Yes.
In my view the successful marketers of the future will be successful relationship builders. I acknowledge that the relationship between supermarket and shopper is a different one from law firm to client but that is another story. There are also many different ways of building relationships and I will touch on that later.
There is no doubt that the face of marketing changed with the changes in communication technology and transport technology.
So where does this lead to in the future? In order to survive at least or prosper at best companies, marketers and organizations will continue to look for opportunities to develop a competitive advantage.
As customers and consumers we have a tremendous choice with respect of who we choose to buy from. Product differentiation is not where it's at in the future. Manufacturers have developed extremely efficient and fast catch-up skills and an exclusive lead-time of at the most six months is all that anybody can hope for from any product development situation. So whilst product and service innovation will continue to play a pivotal role in the viability of any organisation -without
it means the kiss of death to any organisation - but more and more companies will look at differentiating themselves from their competitors in the delivery of products and services.
McDonald's is not the big successful multi-billion dollar company because of their Big Mac or Chicken Nuggets - their products are mediocre at best - but because of the way they deliver the product to the customer. The predictable and consistent service they offer to customers.
I call this "delivery marketing" where marketers will promote the way they do business as a point of differentiation from their competitors rather than or alongside promoting their specific product and services.
"Delivery marketing" will rival products and services marketing for supremacy in terms of marketing spending. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is my first prediction for the future this evening. Company and corporate branding, i.e. promoting the company's culture in respect of its attitude to the customer will be at least as, if not more, important as the product or services they sell.
My second prediction for the future is that there will be a backlash from customers and consumers on the automatic electronic communication methods. We will not put up with the cold voice message systems currently put in place by many organisations. We want to speak to warm-blooded people and we want it instantly. We don't want to wait. The successful marketers of the future will develop systems where you and me as customers have the opportunity to communicate instantly with knowledgeable and friendly decision makers.
Here is a statement for you to think about:
Technology drives change and people push it back to acceptable levels.
My third prediction is that the door-to-door sales person will return on the scene. Here is why.
There is no doubt that shopping via the Internet will gain momentum. You will have heard that Woolworth is starting a trial of Internet grocery shopping which basically means that, in the comfort of your home, you will select the weekly grocery lines including your specials and favourite brands. Obviously your product will be delivered to your doorstep for an extra $17 or so.
Initially the Internet supermarkets and direct sales companies will use courier companies to deliver these products, but as soon as this catches on we will get dedicated neighbourhood delivery persons calling on you with the products that you ordered, and because they are calling on you anyway, they may sell you some other products at the same time.
This could be an interesting diversification for the posties. They may have to trade in their bike but why should they restrict themselves to delivering mail? Or the milkman may well get involved in products other than just the milk.
Ladies and gentlemen, there was a time that it seemed that my great-great grandfather's skills of personal selling and relationship building had gone forever. Now, thanks to technology I think I will pick up his memoirs and look forward to advancing my skills in modern marketing!