Want to Evolve Your Marketing? Let People -- Not Products -- Lead the Way

Ramiro Roman Reviews 'Marketing 3.0'

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Looking for big ideas to take your marketing to the next level? "Marketing 3.0," by Philip Kotler, Hermawan Kartajaya and Iwan Setiawan, proposes a fundamental evolution to our marketing strategies. It seeks to move our focus from product and customer models to a human-centric model. It challenges us to evolve from pushing products to solving real-world socio-cultural issues, while concurrently creating relevant value propositions that ultimately lead to higher profit.

To better understand the theory behind Marketing 3.0, it helps to place it in some context. Marketing 1.0 was developed in the Industrial Age, a "product-centric" era focused on mass-selling products through functional value propositions. Marketing 2.0 was developed during the Information Age, and it adopted emotional value propositions. The authors of Marketing 3.0 propose that we are now at the dawn of the "values-driven" era, characterized by consumers who want to satisfy functional, emotional and spiritual needs. Marketing 3.0 seeks to satisfy the whole person -- mind, body and soul.

Why this evolution to human-centric value propositions? The authors point to three trends that are shaping the future of marketing.

The first trend is mass participation/collaborative marketing. Social media has tapped into natural human desires for connectivity and interactivity. People not only consume media, news and entertainment, but also seek to produce its content via social networks. This move from consumer to "prosumer" is not simply reserved for the individual, but also enables mass-to-mass collaboration (think Wikipedia, Craigslist, InnoCentive). As influencers have gained power and status, companies should seek collaborative marketing strategies -- co-creation of products and services with consumers, employees, channel partners and other firms with similar goals and values.

The second trend is global paradox. Ease of travel and technology advances have created truly "global citizens" who still want to be considered individuals. Marketing that addresses both local and global communities will succeed. For example, marketers should seek to create micro-communities that serve the interest of its members.

The third trend is the rise of a creative society and human-spirit marketing. The authors suggest that the influence and status of creative people -- who generally tend to innovate, collaborate and express themselves more than others -- is on the rise because the creative class pursue self-actualization and place the same demands on the products and services they consume. Marketers wishing to capitalize on this trend should focus on communicating credibility and supplying meaning to its consumers.

So how does a marketer function in Marketing 3.0? Borrowing from Ries and Trout, the authors suggest that Marketing 3.0 should be redefined as a triangle of brand, positioning and differentiation, but then build on this formula by introducing their own "3I" model, which they feel completes the connections in the Ries/Trout model.

In the Marketing 3.0 model, the three I's stand for identity, image and integrity:

Identity is the relationship between positioning and brand and seeks to address the rational portion of the value proposition. In Marketing 3.0, the key here is how you address the mind, the consumer's rational thoughts about the brand.

Image lies at the juncture of differentiation and brand and strives to capture the emotions of the target audience. The key here is how you address the consumer's heart – what they feel about the brand, themselves, the category.

Integrity is the intersection of positioning and differentiation, and it aims to authentically fulfill the brand promise and foster trust. This is the "newest" of the three I's and speaks to such issues as authenticity and soul – of the consumer and the product.

At first glance Marketing 3.0 appears overly ambitious. The idea of addressing the whole person -- and doing so on a global scale -- is difficult to grasp from a segmentation perspective. However, the book provides strong evidence and references to human-centric marketing currently under way. And I can personally vouch for the practicality of their thesis as I find myself attempting to solve both human and global concerns via our strategic alignment and collaboration with key constituents.

My only criticism of the book is the 3I model. The section is underdeveloped and its theory is ambiguous. Had they made this more of a how-to chapter, explaining step-by-step how marketers could implement it, their thinking would have been much more useful.

Marketing is evolving and the stakes are higher. If you want to differentiate, you cannot do so through tactics, you must choose a different strategy. Marketing 3.0 can raise your thinking to the next level.

Ramiro Roman leads services and asset management marketing at General Electric's health-care division GEHC. He can be reached at linkedin.com/in/RamiroRoman.
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