I’m sure you’ve all heard the saying ‘Marketing is Dead’, said by some millennial wearing Nike Air’s, holding their iPhones, confidently proclaiming that marketing has no effect on them as they are resistant to the common tactics marketers use to lure suckers in. And maybe that’s true, studies have shown that advertising is least effective among millennials.
In the age of skipping TV commercials and ad block on our web browsers, we seem to be hellbent on blocking any form of marketing that comes our way. So with this in mind, is it even worth taking up careers in sales and marketing?
How Marketing Made Coke A Superbrand
Marketing is the backbone of all business, great sales and marketing is what separates a good brand from a superbrand. To illustrate this, let’s analyze one of the brands that have mastered this craft: Coca-Cola.
In reality, Coca-Cola isn’t the best soda and I’m sure there are many ‘premium’ sodas that are better regarded than Coca-Cola. Some people might prefer the main competitor Pepsi, while others would prefer other drinks under the Coca-Cola brand such as Sprite, Fanta, or Royal. Yet, despite the existence of thousands of other options, the word Coke is synonymous to the word ‘soda’.
In fact the world’s bestselling sodas are Coca-Cola and Diet Coke. The brand’s lighter version, in fact, completely outsells the competition’s main soda brand, Pepsi. After all these years, Coca-Cola has achieved such a great brand equity, all because of how it markets itself.
Let’s start off with a history lesson.
Winning the Pepsi Battle
Coca-Cola is regarded as being responsible for the way we celebrate Christmas. The reason it became popular for dads to dress up as fat, bearded men wearing red, shouting ‘Ho-Ho-Ho, Merry Christmas!’ while leaving gifts under the Christmas tree, is because of Coke ad campaigns in the 1930’s featuring Santa Claus.
In the 1980s, when Pepsi started to create its own marketing campaign of the Pepsi Challenge and started to be a serious threat to the market, Coke responded by completely reformulating its product and replacing its existing products with a product called “New Coke.” And while the new formulation failed, the hype created by the company in releasing the old Coke 3 months later as “Coke Classic” was enough to generate huge sales for the company, and ensured that Pepsi would never come close to Coca-Cola.
This marketing stunt made Coke sales skyrocket, doubling that of Pepsi. Nowadays, Coke still markets its products effectively. We’ve seen the “Share-a-Coke” campaign: specialized Coke bottles that had names or pet names on them so you can give a bottle to a friend or loved one. There’s also the “Hug Me” Coke machine that dispensed a free bottle for those that hugged a vending machine. There’s even the drinkable Coke-Zero ad, a billboard with actual Coke Zero in it.
But why does Coke still advertise when it clearly has no threat of being usurped as the number one soda in the world?
Marketing doesn’t end with just increasing your sales volume. Marketing also serves as a way to preserve your brand equity, to ensure that people still have a great perception of your brand. When Coke releases its Open Happiness commercials, it doesn’t do that simply to get you to buy more product.
It does this to get you to have a better perception of the brand, for you to like the brand more. And by doing this, it allows itself to be in a position where it is always in the people’s minds. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if you went out there and got a Coke for yourself after reading this.
Marketing As A Career
How does all this link back to Marketing and Sales as a career? This is a case to show you how Marketing and Sales have to evolve, to stay relevant in the age of resistance.
Gone are the days of the 50’s Mad Men, where slapping the name of your product on a bill board and having a simple commercial on TV isn’t enough. In this age, we need to be more creative, we need to be more engaging, and we need to make sure people identify with brands. It’s not enough for you to make sure someone knows about your brand, people have to identify with your brand, relate to it, and understand why this brand deserves a place in their lives. So as a marketer, your job is to make sure your brand is the top of mind in a sea of competitors.
As a career, it is rewarding to be successful, but for every company like Coke that has marketing down to a tee, there are a hundred failures in marketing that killed otherwise viable businesses. In this sense, a career in this field is going to require a lot of creativity, intuition and hard work. However, as I’ve mentioned, sales and marketing is one of the most integral positions in a company, if you succeed, you become in of the most important people in the entire industry.
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