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Citing Apple's latest earnings report as an example, this article makes the case that customer loyality is the most important marketing metric.  In fact, it even suggests that companies should "try de-emphasizing traditional marketing and focusing on loyalty instead."  The key factor that's driving the shift toward loyalty is that "social media has given consumers a megaphone just as powerful as that of traditional marketers."

  • VV

    Visakan Veerasamy

    about 5 years ago #

    "For most people, the word “marketing” summons up a single-minded focus on selling products – a one-sided endeavor."

    You know, I do a ton of reading and research about marketing, and it's amazing how people keep conflating this over and over again.

    It's like nobody ever sat down and asked "Wait, what is traditional marketing, exactly?"

    The earliest pioneers about marketing were all about the 4Ps- which included PRODUCT, PRICE and PLACEMENT. Everyone focuses on the last one, which is promotion. And how bad promotion is... and of course it is, when you get product, price and placement all wrong!

    There are so many examples throughout our recent history of these straw-man attacks. In 2007, Jason Calacanis decried SEO as bullshit. [1] Danny Sullivan told him he was wrong. In 2011, Fred Wilson described Marketing as bullshit. [2] Seth Godin pointed out he was conflating advertising with marketing. And everyone here is familiar with the "Growth Hacking Is Bullshit" idea.

    Time and time again people wilfully, fundamentally misunderstand the value creation aspect of marketing. I think it's on purpose. We want a straw man to attack, so we feel good. We focus on the worst cases, the failed examples, and then say "Look everyone, we're not as bad as "

    It makes for great rhetoric, gets peopled riled up and picking sides, but after a while it becomes really predictable, and makes conversations happen slower than they should. IMHO.

    When a successful company says "we don't do marketing"– it's almost definitely a deliberate statement crafted with marketing insight.


    [1] http://calacanis.com/2007/02/07/why-people-hate-seo-and-why-smo-is-bulls-t/
    [2] http://avc.com/2011/02/marketing/

    • MB

      Morgan Brown

      about 5 years ago #

      Well said.

    • EG

      Ethan Garr

      about 5 years ago #

      Great point. People are always declaring things dead for effect, and you are right, it doesn't really push the conversation forward . . . though it is hard to argue it makes for catch headlines.

    • VT

      Vigilius Tridian Caraka

      almost 5 years ago #

      This! I hate when anyone say marketing like its a dirty job

    • RV

      Robert Voccola

      almost 5 years ago #

      Marketing has always been about communication. Clear communication is mutual/shared understanding between two or more parties. Hence, great marketing is understanding what your audience wants/needs and then creating a piece of content that portrays your product/service/company in that light when applicable. It isn't merely about a company making money. It's about a company creating value and gaining mindshare within a person so that both parties benefit mutually.

    • LT

      Lee Traupel

      over 4 years ago #

      Well put. Consumers are fickle and they always will be and let's face it Apple is doing a lot of things right. But, switching costs are baked in to their success. See Microsoft OS and Apps.

      No product is ever a product until someone agrees to pay a price for it and too many trees have been killed with the back and forth geek/tech vs. sales/marketing discourse. No successful product or service ever exists in a vacuum; it takes collaborative relationships with all disciplines.

  • SE

    Sean Ellis

    about 5 years ago #

    Great article. Completely agree that loyalty trumps traditional marketing when it comes to driving growth.

  • CS

    Charity Stebbins

    about 5 years ago #

    I think it's good marketing to take your customer's ideas and turn them into collateral (Chipotle example) -- not the lack thereof. Perhaps "traditional marketing is dead" would be a more accurate title for this article.

  • ET

    Everette Taylor

    about 5 years ago #

    Great article but I would argue that loyalty is a by-product of effective marketing which includes retention tactics and helping create customer success/loyalty as well having an awesome product/user experience. Marketing isn't dead, a good marketer should always have customer loyalty in mind.

    • SE

      Sean Ellis

      about 5 years ago #

      Agree. My comment softened it a bit "loyalty trumps marketing." Ultimately without loyalty marketing is very ineffective.

    • EF

      Eddie Forson

      almost 5 years ago #

      I'd say loyalty is a potential consequence of great marketing and product.

  • JW

    Joshua Wold

    about 5 years ago #

    Loyalty only comes from building great products time and again. So its really great products which lessen the reliance on marketing - not loyalty.

    • JP

      Joseph Putnam

      about 5 years ago #

      I agree and think there's a lot to be said about investing in building great products which in turn will produce loyalty and make marketing a lot easier. On the flip side, there are plenty of businesses with good and even great products that fail because they don't know how to get the word out about their product or service. In the end, you need both, but building a great product is essential.

  • SH

    Stuart Hall

    about 5 years ago #

    Marketing jargon is dead and customers killed it!

  • GC

    Gerry Carr

    about 5 years ago #

    "Indeed, aside from a few television spots and billboards here and there, Apple pretty much ignores marketing and advertising."

    I stopped reading at this point. So apart from the marketing and advertising it does Apple pretty much ignores marketing. What?

    • JB

      Joseph Bentzel

      about 5 years ago #

      Exactly. You are right on. They have a network of almost 500 retail stores world wide and touch users every day but the author of this piece never read an Apple 10Q. Just a totally wrong-headed assessment of Apple's business. Surprised to see HBR publish a puff piece like this.

  • JR

    Jordi Rosell

    almost 5 years ago #

    Loyalty is a central marketing activity, so marketing is alive.

  • JP

    Joseph Putnam

    about 5 years ago #

    I'm not sure how I feel about the validity of this article but have been giving customer success some thought lately as an overlooked metric. If businesses, especially SaaS, focused more on the success or satisfaction of their customers, they'd likely be more successful. And this can come in a lot of ways such as opening dialogues with customers, learning more about them, making sure their product is easy to begin and continue using, etc. I guess now that I think of it, loyalty would be another metric that's a bit hard to measure but also very important.

  • JJ

    JackieHarris jackie

    almost 5 years ago #

    I can see that Apple has done fantastically well in building loyalty - which is terrific. But as far as I can see, very few brands value loyalty - in fact all around me I see brands pro-actively promoting dis-loyalty. For example: British Telecom, most banks, Sky - they offer massive offers to get new customers, completely oblivious to the needs of the customer who pays 'full whack' for their banking, TV or broadband services. These companies are sending a clear message - 'we don't value loyal long-term customers - we only care about hooking in new people'. So people flit around chasing the special offers - I don't see how this benefits anyone in the long term. Let's get back to rewarding loyalty.

  • BP

    Brian Parker

    almost 5 years ago #

    customer "loyalty"

  • TM

    Tom Maiaroto

    almost 5 years ago #

    I don't think it's loyalty that Apple has. Sex appeal. Status. It's advertising plain and simple. Very old school. Still works. Shoppers are more disloyal today than ever before. There's far too much confusion in the marketplace and far too many campaigns dedicated toward conversion -- and they are working. So it's not loyalty at play here. It's persuasion.

  • SG

    Steve Geibel

    almost 5 years ago #

    As marketers we know that retaining a loyal customer is exponentially cheaper than acquiring a new one. So from that standpoint, loyalty is certainly a key driver. However, the savvy marketer also realizes that without acquisition, there can be no retention. It's not a chicken and egg scenario here, acquisition absolutely comes first. Then on top of that, no matter how great your product is, no matter how great the service, no matter how awesome your content/inbound marketing efforts are, you will have defection. Customers leave for any number of reasons, and even though I am no mathematician I have to say that in order to sustain growth, those customers will need to be replaced. Know how? It's ok, you can say it. Marketing.

    We have progressed so far beyond the 4-P's that marketing even from the 80's is almost unrecognizable now. Social platforms, inbound, emerging media, content creation, and yes advertising are all part of a new dance we do called Integrated Marketing.

    Though it does make for a compelling and clickable headline (content marketing), I believe that the news of marketing's demise is greatly exaggerated.

    https://stevegeibel.wordpress.com

    • TK

      Tetteh Kofi

      over 4 years ago #

      Thats so sell put Steve. I tend to agree. At some point you have to engage with fresh people fresh cohorts ~ and Marketing is the only way I know how!

  • JB

    Jon Burgess

    almost 5 years ago #

    If you only had loyalty... you would eventually die. Look at Saab, a loyal group of ugly car buyers.

    Marketing has been mistaught for generations of business professors.

    Loyalty is clearly part of successful brands, but it is a spoke in a wheel. But the example of Apple is a poor one, when you can counter loyalty with "all my songs are stuck in iTunes so I don't buy a LG." Apple has created a low churn model, not a loyalty model. Anti-churn Super model, but to state "loyalty" as a trump card implies you have not been taught what marketing should be.

    Infact, we use a higher level word than loyalty with our clients. Emplacement. If marketing positioning is about the being in the mind of the consumer (mental). Then emplacement is about physically being creating a barrier between your customers and your competitors. Apply has emplaced itself between customers and competitors.

    Google the book, "Finding Your Crack in the Market." if you want to learn more.

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