I am the head of a startup company, and in terms of budgeting, I doubt that prioritizing marketing over other divisions will make much of a difference. I already know the needs and wants of my target. Why should I overcomplicate things?
Our strategy is to sell and reach targets. It's as simple as that.
What will I get from marketing, anyway?
Essentially, marketing is the distribution of demand, but what some of us don't realize is that marketing actually forms our reality. Yes, the very reality that shapes our beliefs, our existence even. I'll give you some cases, then, maybe you can be the judge.
In the early 1900s, Swift, a global processed meat brand, in its desire to make a demand for bacon consumption, actually influenced the concept of breakfast into what it is today. Swift inadvertently invented breakfast in America. They did this by asking a bunch of doctors whether or not getting a bigger meal early in the day is healthier than the usual, which before, consisted of just coffee and bread. The doctors naively said yes, and next thing you know, they were endorsing bacon as part of a complete, healthy, and well-rounded breakfast meal.
In a TED talk, Ad man Rory Sutherland made an example out of something that happened on ancient Prussia in the 18th century. At the time, a ruler named Fredrick the Great wanted people to adopt the potato and have people eat it. This is because of the benefits of having two different sources of carbs, the other being wheat, which meant that there'd be less price volatility in bread and a lower risk in famine, given that there are two crops to fall back on. The thing with potatoes though is its presentation. People were in fact disgusted by it.
The brilliant thing Fredrick did was to make it compulsory and declared the potato as a royal vegetable. No one but the royal family can eat it. He had a royal potato patch planted and ordered guards to look after it, but not look after it very well. To the 18th century peasant, something worth guarding is surely worth stealing. Next thing you know, Germany had a massive underground potato-growing operation and the potato was effectively rebranded.
This is what marketing does. It carves out a value with the least amount of work involved. And perceptive value, no matter how intangible, does wonders for your brand. You'd be surprised at what you can discover once you lift the proverbial veil. Like for example, the idea that saturated fat from plants causes heart disease--which isn’t true, and was in fact only made to discredit coconut oil. Because of marketing, most Filipinos would think that refined coconut oil used for cooking is not healthy, and virgin coconut oil is. But when you think about it, both have the active ingredient monolauric acid. It's just plain hilarious.
There are a lot of examples. Did you know that there's still no direct evidence that multivitamins will make you healthier? Look at your gluten phenomenon, your artificial sweeteners, even the idea that second hand smoke will kill you. There's no evidence. Not for a very long time, there isn't. Mother's Day is also the work of marketing; Valentine's Day is legit. You know what else is largely marketing? The way Christmas is celebrated.
It's quite remarkable when you think about it. Now, the answer to your question is simple. Marketing shapes reality. Shaping reality creates new categories, new opportunities. It creates an advantage where there was none.
Swift revolutionized bacon, and in doing so, created an entire industry. Even soap was a result of a public hygiene campaign funded by the English government. If they didn’t have that, we wouldn't be washing our hands now, would we? Marketing affects our lives on a massive scale. Whatever the medium is, whatever the target may be, marketing has a way of ensuring your brand's place in the lives of the people you serve. Ask yourself: without marketing, where would your business be?
All the best,
About the columnist
Amor Maclang leads GeiserMaclang, an internationally awarded full-service marketing communications company that steers leading names in a diverse field of industries. For more information and to post her a message, visit Geiser Maclang Network’s online directory listing here.