Think about this for just a moment. The way in which products are marketed, even just a decade ago, has changed. Yet, marketing still has adherents to the old model and that model is broken.
If you believe you can sell a product by highlighting its advantages, ingredients or abilities, you will find yourself up to your hind quarters in the quagmire of competitive claims.
It does not matter what you are selling. Today, if you want to be successful, you must sell an idea, not a product.
There are many smartphones for sale, but the iPhone is an idea. It is not a product. Point for point and feature by feature, what differentiated the iPhone from its competitors has nothing to do which what it does (anymore). It gains its preference, which is evident in its price point, from the idea of Apple. Love them or hate them, Apple is an idea.
Breakfast cereals used to differentiate themselves by ingredients. Corn Flakes, Rice Krispy’s and Shredded Wheat are examples. Today, they need to sell an idea — a place of importance in the brand’s eye of the consumer. Without looking, can you tell me what Special K is made from? Its is no longer about what goes into a product that gives its marketing a boost. It is the idea of it that creates preference.
Marketing an idea is harder than marketing benefits, ingredients or processes. It is less tangible and, as a result, demands greater focus, discipline and an understanding of the target audience that is bigger than demographics and needs. Today, to be a successful marketer, you must identify a seminal belief that is held dear by the people you need to influence. It must be something that they cling to as a self-description of whom they believe they are or is aspirational to what they hope to become (as opposed to what they think they can achieve).
It really is a brave new world when it comes to marketing. I don’t care if you make birdseed or run an airline, if your marketing is talking about benefits and features, someone is going to eat your lunch.