Stages of Marketing

Months ago, Tara Hunt, whom I adore from afar (but not nearly as much as my wife), wrote a extremely interesting and thought provoking four square model on the Marketing Continuum.

I agree a good deal with what Tara is talking about, but the rogue one can also be a bit rebellious. The only thing I take exception with is that even when you are in the upper right hand corner of the quadrant as a marketer you still want to guide the message in some manner (though customers will most likely tell you the way to guide it).

When it comes to consumer technology marketing, I don’t really see marketing as a continuum. I see it going through three stages as a company scales; viral, partnership, and mass. I have been involved with quite a few start-ups and see it nearly every time.

When a company is young, viral marketing is the most vital, and sometimes the only available, way to market your product. I use the word “viral” loosely. It encompasses, Cluetrain, Guerilla, Hughtrain, Pinko and WOM activities. Unless a company is well funded these are the only options open to building the brand and gain some scale. Using search engines to slide in a little direct marketing can work here if a company is smart. Throw in event marketing for good measure. The product has got to rock to make viral work. If it does not go back and make it rock or you are just wasting your time and money.

As a company grows and starts to gain a little traction in the marketplace a wealth of partnership marketing opportunities can be pursued. This would be a little to the upper left of Promotions in Tara’s quad. These are business development channel type deals that can get a small but growing company much broader distribution and market credibility by associating with larger brand names if the right partners are chosen.

Finally there comes a point when you have to mass marketing to continue to grow your business. Can you believe that Starbucks is doing directional highway billboard advertising these days?

Advertising. Mass advertising can be done well. There is nothing evil about it, it just is. You just have to get it out in a way that people find it acceptable. Open and honest is a good start.

The trick is effectively doing stage three while keeping the soul of stage one.

It can be done.