The first and the last time I read about marketing was before my interview with SP Jain back in 2007 for an MBA seat. The book that I read was the bible of marketing, Philip Kotler. It spoke about the 4Ps of marketing among a lot of other things which I do not even remember. The 4Ps stayed with me though for some reason.
Few years down the line, I got into advertising, digital advertising as a matter of fact. However, I kept telling the world that I was in digital marketing. Unfortunately, nobody corrected me or explained the difference between advertising & marketing; even though the 4Ps kept nagging me all throughout. For readers who arent aware of the 4Ps, it is Product, Placement, Promotion & Price.
For major part of my stint in advertising, I only played the Promotion game and thought I knew digital marketing. Today, when I look around, I realise that I wasnt the only one who got it wrong. “Advertising” & “Marketing” are often interchanged by people, depending on who is at the other end, or what the forum is, and most often than not, the expectation from digital spends is to do the marketing job, with input in advertising.
Let us first look at how the 4Ps have changed due to digital or technology. For a brand like Uber, the product, promotion, price and placement is interlinked in an App. Unlike the older times when nothing was interlinked (price, placement & product was showcased in promotion), today, everything is interlinked. A whitegoods brand today is able to expand its placement (outlets), and able to sell pan India without even an outlet thanks to eCommerce. Let us take the case of a brand like Facebook. The product here is simply a concept of social networking, the promotion of Facebook (new features) can effectively be done on the product itself (push notification), and it is free. A digital marketer, thus has to understand promotion, product, price & placement to be really effective. In other words, (s)he should have a holistic idea about technology, media, consumer behaviour, analytics, communication, competition, digital trends, security etc or, digital marketers need to be the superstars.
The primary focus of the “Digital Marketers”, who in most organisations, is a full team of one person, is campaign execution. Majority of them spend all their waking ours coordinating between brand team, media team, agency partners, etc to get campaigns rolling and at the end of the campaign, spend more time reviewing the reach, impressions, engagement rather than trying to understand the implications on business. This is also the reason you read about a lot of unwarranted metrices in marketing/advertising trade journals after each campaign. The game is all about one-upmanship in advertising today. I am assuming here that most of the KRAs for digital marketers are designed along the lines of advertising and not beyond that.
In leading digital-first companies as well, the “digital marketing teams” are responsible for advertising & promotion, whereas the product teams are responsible for everything else. In some weird cases, it is further fragmented into analytics team, technology team, performance team and so on, with none of them reporting to the digital marketing function. Imagine the chaos and the disruption in the system, when the function that is supposed to have a say in & design everything is most often than not, left out.
A lot of conversation that I have had with marketers with respect to digital starts and ends with Paid, Owned & Earned “Media”, media being the key. In today’s digital economy, it is important that ‘digital teams’, yes I would want a team, should ideally comprise stakeholders from Media, Communication, Customer Relations, Information Technology, Sales so that this team can firm up strategies taking into account how all the 4Ps are being addressed, and how it all boils down to better business. Also, digital marketing should no longer come under branding or advertising function, but should come under business function, with PnLs. As long as digital marketers are part of cost centres like the marketing teams of today, the true potential of digital usage will never be realised.
And yeah, I never did my MBA in case you were wondering & it was one of the best things to happen to me.
The author of this article is Rahul Vengalil – Founder at What clicks, he can be reached at email@example.com