Sunday, 1 September 2013

Deep down we are all MARKETERS!!

Wondering why? Well, before I feed you with an answer and the logic behind it, let us all try recalling the following incidents which made me think on these lines and ultimately move my fingers into writing this blog. Remember the first time we asked our parents for pocket money, or even a raise in the same; the first time we asked the most beautiful girl in our college out for a date and later on proposed her for marriage; the first time we participated in the case discussion and final interview selection round of our graduate school; and finally, our first job interview where we battled our way out to work in our dream company.

Apart from the fact that they depict the different phases of our lives, another common thread running through all these examples is that they make use of “persuasion”. Yes, you heard that right. And we all know that “persuasion” is not alien to the world of marketing. But still, how does that tie them up together? In fact, before we even answer that question, we need to know first of all what “marketing” means? My professor once gave me one of the simplest definitions of “marketing”. He said that when you make a horse terribly thirsty by making him run non-stop in a field for a very long time, that’s “marketing”, however, when you provide him with food and water that is “selling”. Confused? To make it more understandable, let’s look at it this way, “marketing” refers to the generation of needs for a product or service, and is different from “selling”, which refers to the satisfaction of those needs. It means the needs generated may either be non-existent, as in the case of the pocket money example, where the parents might not at all feel the need to raise the amount, not because they have carefully pondered over it and then decided no!, but because the thought never even crossed their mind, or they may be latent, as in the case of your prospective girlfriend who may be on a lookout for a suitable boyfriend who would not only flatter her but also take good care of her, both emotionally and physically (but she won’t announce it on a loudspeaker). Further, the needs may also be existent and clearly communicated too, as in the case of the hiring company which openly announces its need for fresh manpower through its recruitment advertisements or when political leaders during election campaigns, give long, emotionally-charged speeches, openly asking for votes. Moreover, every first party in these situations is trying to persuade the other party to empathize with them and fulfill their demands. The logic behind this process traces itself to the human psychological and physiological architecture which biologically wires man to put his best foot forward in whatever he/she does in order to form an exceedingly positive first impression, so as to avoid risking leaving any stone unturned in case of a half-baked effort which might leave the other party unimpressed, hence, lowering the probability of successfully convincing them (second party) to fulfill their (first party) demands.

This does not come easy, since the second party has an abundance of options to choose from. Hence, you might be the most handsome and stinking rich hunk around, but your prospective girlfriend has no dearth of boys to choose from. Similarly, even your immaculate demeanor doesn’t single you out as the most obvious and the only choice for the coveted job especially with the ever increasing global unemployment rates that have made other candidates knock the same office for the interview. Also, even your parents need a convincing answer to justify your pocket money raise as compared to your elder brother or sister (sorry, equal treatment as part of parental upbringing is just not acceptable, you need a more logical explanation…J).

To be heard across impact fully, in all these examples, we need to “market” ourselves successfully by cleverly trying to highlight our positives while underplaying the negatives. So, despite being younger to your sibling, you can cite examples of how much of a judicious spender are you in comparison to his/her prodigal acts. Similarly, apart from being opulent you can count on your social reputation (by the way it needs homework in advance) of not being a Casanova who keeps on changing girlfriends every two weeks, and in fact, not having even a single girlfriend throughout except her (your neighborhood verification proves it).   

Coming back to our analogy, we, upon close scrutiny, find that most marketing efforts, including advertising and other promotional techniques also function on the same dynamics of human behavior, aimed primarily to ignite your all sorts of covert, overt and even non-existent needs, and then persuade you to buy the advertised products and services with their own sets of uniquely distinctive and positive features, as a satisfactory solution. Thus, an advertisement about Coke or Pepsi may instantly target the youth in you, immediately triggering the need to look super cool by gulping down a bottle even if it contains caffeine which is bad for your health or a Volkswagen advertisement may instantly help you recall the previously existing need for safety of your family to be considered while going for the right vehicle, even if it means ending up paying a higher price for it. Moreover, their target audiences also have a variety of brands and products (read ‘options’) to choose from, thereby, making this analogy converge somewhere, hence, proving it to be true.

I am not trying to encourage you to be distrustful of what others say, but only suggesting you to read between the spoken lines and sniff the hidden marketing intention, the next time someone asks you for something.

Do you agree or disagree? Let me know.

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