With every business becoming a marketing businesse, what happens to the product ?

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Being good at marketing and neglecting the product

Today, due to increasing customer expectations and what technology makes possible, business must reinvent their marketing. This is essential for two reasons

• Attractiveness : a brand that does not deliver a good experience is a brand that loses customers.

• Operational performance : without the use of data to better understand the customer, personalize his journey, without the use of “modern” platforms to deploy this experience at scale, the risk is high to either miss the target spend too much energy to do things right. Or even to spend too much energy too miss the target.

Experience is the new word for marketing

You must also have noticed that in the digital transformation maelstrom it’s easy to come to the conclusion that digital and marketing are the same. I’m not saying that marketing should not become an experience – what is, in fact, essential, but that experience must go beyond marketing, what’s not yet a given. Marketing must become an experience but experiences can’t be about marketing only.

GE’s Jeff Immelt said “It’s our recognition that if you go to bed as an industrial company, you’re going to wake up as a software company” but it seems to me that businesses are becoming digital marketing companies. The underlying idea is easy to get : digital transformation is about creating customer experiences, digital transformation is the future of one’s business, customer experience is about marketing so the future of any business is digital marketing.

Hence a frenzy that makes that, seen from the outside, the only thing that seem to be moving and trying to reinvent itself, the only place where investment goes is digital marketing.

This makes me ask a simple  questions : when every business is becoming a digital marketing business, what happens to the product ?

Communication does not replace the product. Neither does the buying experience.

I think that it’s clear and obvious for anybody that communication is not a substitute for a product, that a terrible product that’s well sold will be a terrible product coming with deception.

Paradoxical as we’re being told each and every day that people are buying experiences and not product ? Not at all. We should avoid having a too restrictive vision of experience that too many people limit to the buying experience while it should also include the product.

At the latest Adobe Summit we agreed with Frédéric Cavazza that experience has three faces.

• Brand experience : it’s the promise of the brand, its main line, its umbrella message.

• Customer experience :that’s the extended buying journey, including marketing and sales.

• User experience : that’s what happen when the customer use/consume the product/service, including customer service.

It’s obvious that most people don’t make the difference, use experience as a catch-all word and if we start with the assumption that an experience must be global we’ll soon realize that most of the current initiatives are incomplete.

A brand is defined by what people say

It’s important to focus on what’s matter and put the product back in the center of the experience. As a matter of fact, what is a brand today ? Since the customer has become a media able to talk about the brand individually or with a community, the brand ceased to belong to itself. A brand is not what it says it is but what people say it is.

What do people say ? They talk about the difference between the expected experience (following the brand promise) and the lived experience. Thinking that the product has no role in this process is a mistake. Even worse, the product will weigh more and more as brands are competing on the highest promise.

What worries me today is that it seems that in most cases the product is completely forgotten in the digital transformation journey. Maybe because most brands think that an average or bad product packed into a goog experience is ok. Maybe because they consider that experience and marketing are the same thing. Maybe because they think that the product is a given so it’s up to the rest to adapt.

However I hear lots of business cases on the transformation of marketing, customer understanding and the use of data. Everybody’s talking about improving the buying journey customer experience, never to improve the product.

Am I the only one surprise ? Wait and see what how the customer will react on the long term. Meanwhile seeing businesses becoming better at digital marketing than at their core business puzzles me.

Photo Credit : Disappointed Customer by  Jane Kelly via Shutterstock