Marketing Lessons for the Web   no comments

Posted at 12:36 pm in Uncategorized

I have been reading a marketing introduction (Armstrong, Kotler, Harker, & Brennan, 2009) which certainly makes for much easier reading than academic papers. These are initial notes on how marketing might throws light on the user of the web for public engagement with science.
Marketing as a discipline:
• Marketing is primarily prescriptive not descriptive. The book tells or advises people on how to do it.
• The evidence to back up the advice is almost entirely based on case studies. In this sense it does not come close to the rigour of a science or even the social sciences.
Marketing, public engagement with science, and the web
• Clearly marketing uses the web – digital marketing is a new and important branch of marketing – but the web can also use marketing. To be more precise people using the web can benefit from marketing concepts and attitudes.
• Most importantly marketing has at its heart “creating and maintaining profitable long term customer relationships”. The concepts of customer and profitable need to be expanded (you might even say twisted) beyond their normal meaning if they are to apply generally to the web – “customer” translates into “user” and “profitable” translates into something like “satisfactory”. Taking into account this translation, this is a mind-set that ought to pervade anyone trying to offer services via the web and therefore the underlying technology and standards. The big success stories Apple, Google, Facebook and Amazon are very much aware of this (Amazon is the first case study in the book). Other institutions less so. In particular scientists typically do not see the consumers of their product (research) as customers or users.
• On page 12 the book describes five different marketing orientations:
o The production concept – focuses on producing and distributing my goods and service as efficiently as possible. The vast majority of scientists see the web in this light. What an efficient way to make research available.
o The product concept – focuses on quality and innovation. Some scientists, to their credit, see the web in this light. It gives an opportunity to demonstrate or present their discoveries in imaginative or exciting ways. Science museums are particularly adept at this.
o The Selling concept – partially shifts the focus from the product to the customer – getting customers to buy the product or service – but concentrates on the short term and looks for a customer to match the product rather the reverse. Scientists probably come closest to this attitude at conferences or other events when personally presenting their research, it is hard to see its equivalent on the web. This is partly because there is no well-defined transaction to record success as there is when a commercial organisation makes a sale.
o The Marketing concept – this completes the shift to customer focus. The organisation defines itself in terms of customer needs that it has the potential to satisfy – the products and services are responses to these needs. The best way to identify and meet these needs is to develop long term relationships. This is an approach that is alien to most scientists and is likely to cause a negative response. Science should be pure and about discovering how the world is – not about meeting needs. The idea that the web would be vehicle for creating long term relationships with customers to meet their needs would be very hard to take.
o The Social Marketing concept – this goes one further than the marketing concept and takes into account not only potential customers but also social forces such as environmental considerations. Scientists are better disposed to respond to this attitude than a pure marketing approach – climate change is the obvious example. Nevertheless there is a still a presumption that society should respond to their science and the web is a tool for doing this – rather than a tool for building relationships and understanding the users’ needs and viewpoints.

Written by mtf1c08 on November 17th, 2011

Leave a Reply