Even Vapor is a Product

It has a place, a price, and a promotion strategy — and plenty of people are willing to buy it because it delivers an experience. In fact, vapor sounds like a new version of the old vice; it also goes up in air, just more fashionably.

   We may be in the new economy, co-creation economy, the digital economy, the thank you economy, and so on; to have a business you still need a product, a pricing strategy, a place, even if that is just in the mind of the people who want what you've got, and a way to promote what you have.

It is not unusual to find statements like the following in online articles:

Rather than a passive audience, the recipients are users, actors and collaborators. They provide a platform for new kinds of engagement, communities and customer co-creation.

Likely more wishful thinking than solid data; and a statement that would need qualifying and specificity to have value. In fact, we have fewer enthusiast actors and more dabblers and lurkers — see what social media analytics can't tell you about your customers — than advertised.

   If you are smart enough, you provide the platform and focus your energy on making stuff that delivers what nobody else is satisfying or underserving rather than on creating new cute acronyms that frankly as customers or prospects mean little to nothing at all.

   In fact, take a look at the headlines and see where the people formerly known as audience are building a following — on social networks and digital platforms provided by companies like Google (YouTube#), Facebook (Instagram#), and Twitter (Vine#).

   How do we know? They build critical mass in attention, then get mass media attention on top of it. Where attention goes, money flows.

   Do newer generations behave differently? Let's ask the question differently: do people have more product and service choices today? Do we have a greater variety of tools and technologies to get done the jobs we want to do?

The answer to these questions may have an effect on how we execute marketing, yet I would not be so hasty in declaring it changes the very nature of marketing.

Marketing is alive and thriving

Because more marketeres are embracing the tools and technologies available to develop a greater understanding of how to make experiences better and/or create new ones.

   Injecting accontability and, why not, and higher degree of creative choices, businesses have on offer to connect with customers does not however mean we throw away the baby with the bathwater.

   Honestly I am finding the term “engage” a bit tired lately. There are plenty of products and services I hire on a regular basis with whom I have no intention of interacting beyond the limits of business services. Some of these companies I don't even particularly “like.”

   This does not mean I would not want to have a fair treatment, or that I don't notice when I get a special discount as a lead because the company has no system that cross-references customers with prospects. Now, that would be a tremendous use of personalization features! Forget the bribery program (typically positioned as loyalty.) Recognize I am already a customer and delight me with that offer for twenty years of prompt payments. Better yet, help make me awesome, or my life better in some way(s).

   When were integrity, respect, and responsibility ever not a good idea?

   We experience good service and create experiences thanks to products — whether we buy them, share them, co-create them, or sponsor their creation on Kickstarter. After an all time high Cyber Monday, I am seeing scant evidence we are leaving products alone in favor of just experiences.

   Further, it is our responsibility as marketers to understand the market and the opportunities inherent in it to target, to develop product roadmaps, set pricing and distribution strategies, and design communications to get the word out, address questions and information needs of our customers, prospects, internal teams, and communities.

   GPS, Google wares, and self-driving devices are still items we somehow acquire and pay for somewhere, are they not? As for IoT: when everything is connected, it better work!

  I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that there is (potentially) even a place for in-your-face campaigns — as long as they are appropriate.

The only illusion some (not all) companies had was that of control. Then again, humankind is still making a go at it, as evidenced by headlines, sadly.



Valeria is an experienced listener. She designs service and product experiences to help businesses rediscover the value of promises and its effect on relationships and culture. She is also frequent speaker at conferences and companies on a variety of topics. Book her to speak here.