May 2008 - Marketing

Mastering the Marketing Mix

By Tom Quash

I think the quotation to the left succinctly sums up one of the truisms known to marketers. The business school practice of breaking down the definition of marketing into the 4 Ps is really oversimplifying a complicated art and science that is fundamental to business success and growth. If you are developing a smart marketing mix, you must also toss in gut instinct, research, sales history, customer patterns, trends, competitive analysis and so many more factors. Even with all of this, success can explode from unexpected opportunities, while sometimes the most thoroughly researched, planned and executed campaigns can fail miserably. Still, that is the beauty of marketing: it is never dull or routine. And today, marketers have far more resources to help drive sales and engagement than ever before.

As I begin a new chapter in my career by joining ERA in March as vice president of marketing and communications, I think about the resources available to us today. In doing so, I can’t help but to reflect back on my first entree into the workforce, then too, in the marketing arena. It’s easy to dismiss as simpler times. It was the mid-1980s: typewriters outnumbered PCs, printed mailing labels predated Excel files and voicemail and fax were office novelties. By evaluating the bottom line and ROI, we believed our marketing efforts were successful back then. But who could predict that the introduction of the Internet and e-mail to the masses was just around the corner? This would forever change the way we, as a society, communicate and access information and entertainment. It would also open the door to new strategies and tools to add to the marketing mix.

Today, it is much more than access to the Internet that allows marketers to brand product, advertise value and engage customers. Video streaming, HDTV, HD radio, podcasting, TV on demand, mobile devices, blogging, wikis and online social networks have all played a role in expanding the marketing function and enhancing the customer experience. Some might suggest we are on the brink of the golden era of marketing. Perhaps. But what is certain is that today’s consumers have become more integrated into the marketing process. For marketers, this is a time of unleashed creativity. There are more opportunities than ever before to connect with customers, track patterns and utilize multiple formats to convey messages. Direct mail, TV/print advertising and other more traditional forms of marketing are still certainly relevant, but marketers no longer have to rely on a finite number of tactics to promote product. And few industries are leveraging these platforms as aggressively as the direct response community.

It makes for smart practice, then, that the association that represents this community would also leverage multi-platforms as necessary. At ERA, we too are on the brink of entering our golden era of marketing. Not because of my new role, but because it is what our community will expect and demand. I hope that you have checked out the new ERA website, which debuted this month, and I encourage you to pay frequent visits to the Electronic Retailer blog. These enhancements are just the start of many advancements ERA will introduce to allow us to better brand ourselves, fine-tune messaging, build member integration and promote the industry and its value and services through new and emerging technologies. These extensions and improvements in communications help us to better enforce our mission to drive, grow and shape the future of electronic retailing. Let’s master the marketing mix together.


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