Lessons from my first Marketing Management Class
An excerpt from my first Marketing class at ISB
Tuesday morning 10.30 am, onward to the next half of the term. I sit in front of my laptop, hopeful, attentive yet preoccupied with a string of thoughts in the background.
As the class commenced, my reverie broke and I was drawn to the ideas that the professor was presenting. It was a Marketing Management class, yet there were a lot of life lessons in it or perhaps we construe words as our mind perceives them. A couple of them from the professor’s introduction were insightful- doing things for fun, ability to laugh at life, not taking oneself too seriously and finally not letting ego come in the way of learning. Now diving to the crux, to begin with, the real world is fuzzy, a construct that is often hard to fathom for people living in the numerical world, especially when even intangible things like feelings can now be quantified. Marketing works in the realm of the mind and therefore, it is challenging.
We diverged into the 4Ps - Price, Product, Promotion and Place. One thing that struck me was that the value created is different from the value perceived. Developing the best possible product without the customer in mind, has no takers eventually. Surprise, surprise! Therefore, it is important to begin with the customer and not the product itself. Same goes for life, often we do not ask the people around us about their needs, instead we give them the comfort we perceive they need. It would be ideal to just pause and ask, what would be their need at this very moment? Their ideal equivalent of a stress ball or going on a rampage on Counterstrike. Every individual is unique, find the segment for your special people. There is the right kind of information required to make a decision.
When it comes to customer needs, there are two kinds- existing and latent. Existing needs could be fulfilled by a simple yes/no question or a short survey, the individual has already identified the need. For example, would you like a bigger glass of wine with that plate of pasta? Would you like to cut down on the screen time and spend time outdoors to not feel as lousy? The latent needs are a different beast because either the individual does not know or does not want to divulge. Like, what would be a panacea for overthinking? The best kind of innovation has happened in this space in the past, we did not identify mobile phones an existing need or even the shoes with a velcro instead of laces, it is the high risk, high reward zone. Almost, like guessing someone’s meal preference, being bang on about it or being able to predict a word that someone has been fumbling for. Are we good at identifying the latent needs of the people around us? Maybe they just need a little appreciation or a kind word, tap into the potential beneath the surface.
Talking about latent needs, a way to identify them in the business context is ethnographic surveys- qualitative method where researchers observe and/or interact with the study’s participants in their real-life environment. It is also important the kind of questions that are being posed, to avoid the garbage in, garbage out phenomenon. Often, the need for the accurate answers is of a greater importance to the person asking it than the person answering it. Extrapolating this to life, sometimes in a sticky situation, we tend to consult people, however the problem holds a greater significance to you than to them. There are three critical questions to always ask, who are you going to ask? When are you going to ask? Why are you going to ask?
Finally, at times with business problems and life, it is critical to step back from the tree and look at the forest.
I am a recent graduate from the Indian School of Business. Prior to that I was with a Fortune 500 insurance firm, donning my safety shoes and conducting engineering surveys for them all across the globe. I am passionate about mental health, nutrition and movement. The more I grow up, I realise that less I know and that's empowering because it's creates opportunities to chance upon new avenues.