Monday, April 20, 2015
APPLE WATCH - ON BEING A MARKETECT
The eagerly awaited Apple Watch will become available on Friday, 24 April 2015. Yet, industry experts estimate that nearly a million customers have pre-ordered the Apple Watch, which ranges in price from $350 to $10,000 for luxury versions. Will this be another in a string of runaway successes for Apple?
An article appearing in the 18-19 April 2015 edition of the WSJ, “The Apple Watch’s Long Shadow,” written by Kevin Sintumuang, asks “The smartest timepiece is disruptively redefining status. Is it set to eclipse the classic Swiss watch?” Thinking about disrupting markets got us, in turn, to thinking about a term we coined years ago, “Marketect,” which is worth revisiting.
Marketect is comprised of two words, “marketer” and “architect.” The word “architect” comes from the Greek word architektor, meaning “master builder.” Architects design structures AND supervise their development. Marketing is a lot like architecting. Instead of designing and supervising the construction of buildings, bridges, etc., marketers are creating and building “brands” through the development of the Brand Idea (theme of the brand’s positioning) and positioning strategy, followed by Power Positioning (reflecting it in all marketing mix elements).
The appellation “architect” is also used for one who plans and achieves a difficult objective. As such, we have our architects of foreign policy, monetary policy, etc. Similarly, marketers are often challenged to achieve difficult business and marketing objectives. The most important yet highly difficult challenge is occupying a position of prominence in the minds of customers to create a brand, leading to preference and even insistence by these same customers. So, shouldn’t we be called “marketects?”
But “marketect” is our name for a master (i.e., an expert) builder of brands. The marketect accomplishes this through the development of a strategically compelling brand positioning strategy behind an emotive Brand Idea that changes customer’s perceptions of the marketplace in favor of the marketect’s brand. This disruption is established through practice of Power Positioning. It takes vision, skill and courage to be a marketect – characteristics not all marketing managers possess. There’s the run of the mill marketers. You know them. They use available generic category data and information (in the form of market research) as the basis for developing strategy and making decisions. In most cases these marketers overlook entrenched competitors, their companies’ capabilities, either emerging and/or unsatisfied customer needs, their products’ ability to capture these needs, and what it takes to bundle a brand and compel customer preference. The result is failure to achieve the objective of creating and building a healthy brand for the long term. The market landscape is scattered with the bleached bones of these dinosaurs.
But the marketect is someone special. S/he sees the marketplace landscape as it currently lies and creates a vision for a new structure built upon a compelling Brand Idea and strategic positioning that spawns the development of an iconic brand. S/he then mobilizes the organization (i.e., all available resource groups) to deliver the positioning (Power Positioning) so that the customer takes an entirely new perception of the marketplace that favors the development and growth of her/his brand.
Who are the marketects of our current society? Who do you think? While we don’t know the names of all the people behind these master brands we’d nominate Howard Shultz (Starbucks), David Eisner (Disney), Phil Knight (Nike), Jeff Bezos (amazon.com), and Tide (the Laundry Detergent), among others, as being, or born of, marketects. Perhaps, there is no one more noteworthy of this appellation than the late Steve Jobs (Apple Corporation), who we think of as the marketect of our generation. He has disrupted and changed the landscape of so many markets to favor his offerings, and change how we live. Steve Jobs with was among the first to introduce personal computers, the iPod (mp4) , iMusic, iPhone (truly smartphones) and the iPad (tablets). Whether Tim Cook, current CEO of Apple Corporation, will be considered a marketect by virtue of his introduction of the Apple Watch remains to be seen. But its development has already spurred competitive activity – even among luxury watch makers!
The marketect distinguishes herself/himself from ordinary marketers by virtue of a number of important characteristics, among which are:
- They have an idea (Brand Idea) for something other than what currently exists. Something bigger than making products that address generic needs with equally generic product benefits. They are not interested in preserving the status quo. They want to shake-up the marketplace, do and achieve things that others haven’t. They want, in the words of Steve Jobs, to give us something “insanely great,” or in the words of Tim Cook, “advance humanity.”
- They are market makers, creating new markets (or segments) as opposed to slogging it out within the confines of narrowly defined categories. Think amazon the world’s largest store.
- They don’t sell products. They market brands. Products are commodities in this “age of sameness.” But brands are made-up of a constellation of values, intangible as well as tangible, which forge a special relationship with customers. Starbucks with its notion of being “the third place” (Perceptual Competitive Framework) holds a special place with many consumers that is more, much more than another cup of coffee.
- They are customer centric. They stay close to their customers and find new ways to satisfy their needs, emotional and rational. They anticipate emerging needs and rush customers’ head first into an awareness of those needs. They don’t just deliver a product. They deliver an experience. The Tide brand of laundry detergent has been innovating with product and packaging developments spanning some eight decades now!
- They use market research as an aid to, versus surrogate for, making decisions. In many cases the research will be qualitative versus quantitative. They are not afraid to trust their intuition or experiences. Steve Jobs didn’t use research. He trusted his gut. Howard Schultz got his inspiration from frequenting coffee bars in Italy. He conducted his own adaptive experiments to confirm his intuition and observations.
- While advertising is important, they understand that there’s so much more to creating a healthy brand. They reflect the brand’s positioning in everything they do. Again think Starbucks whose muse significant media has probably been their cups. Consider Starbucks’ product offerings, unique vocabulary, store design, merchandise, music, furnishings, etc. All of these reflect the Brand Idea and positioning strategy.
- They raise the bar making it difficult for competition to keep up with them. All of the aforementioned brands have been innovators either in technology and/or thinking and continue to innovate every day.
Being named a marketect is a distinction of honor. It marks one as having accomplished something truly extraordinary in our world of marketing. It can lead to the development of an iconic brand and is so much more rewarding than being a marketer. Think of yourself as one. Reach for it in everything you do.
BOATS & HELICOPTERS:
- Find your models. A good place to start may be Advertising Age’s Power 50 (Marketers), or their listing of the top 100 brands, or even a walk through a mall. Become aware of highly successful brand stories and the factors leading to their successes. Borrow and apply their practices to your business.
- Conduct due diligence with your brand positioning statement. (If you don’t have one, mobilize your brand team to create one!) See if you can make it more productive. If you truly aspire to become a marketect then challenge yourself to beat your current positioning strategy. Start with a BIG, emotive, Brand Idea. Use the models you’ve selected to inspire you in creating alternate Brand Ideas. Then create a positioning strategy that captures the Brand Idea.
- Stoke your passion for creating. Dare to dream. Slay old paradigms. Develop and pursue “stretch” objectives. As Leo Burnett is quoted as saying, “If you reach for the stars at least you won’t come up with a handful of dirt.”
- Be customer centric. Don’t rely on quantitative data. Get out into the marketplace. Find out what is in the minds, hearts and souls of your customers. Learn their attitudes. Discover their perceptions. Become a student of their behavior. Become one with them.
- Get beyond the product you sell. Think and act “brand.” Accept it as a constellation of values that forge a bond with customers. Deliver an experience your target-customers will relish. Establish, encourage, nurture, preserve a meaningful relationship with customers.
- Adopt Power Positioning. Reflect your brand positioning in every element of your marketing mix, not just the advertising!
Returning to the Apple Watch, will it establish Tim Cook as a marketect? Will Tim Cook demonstrate the vision of his predecessor and mentor? As one of the bygone leaders of China said, when asked about the impact of the French revolution, “It’s too early to tell.”
Richard Czerniawski and Mike Maloney
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