I’ve recently re-read an introductory text of the fundamentals of marketing to take a break from the IT-related topics I’ve been studying lately, but also as a brush-up on the basics. Whenever a person or an organization seems to be headed in the wrong direction, it’s generally because they’ve overlooked some of the basic principles, so a periodic refresher is a good mental exercise.
In 1999, when the “dot-com crash” was in full swing, it was said that the reason companies failed was not because companies failed to understand technology, but because they focused so exclusively on that aspect that they neglected the fundamentals of business. And if you look at the companies that have failed over the years and consider their fatal flaws, the area in which they generally failed the worst has been marketing.
Those who have started Internet businesses or extended their operations into the channel generally get the technology right (or at least “good enough”), and the majority of them had a defensible business plan … but the area in which they failed the worst was in marketing: attracting and retaining a sufficient body of paying customers who valued the service the company was attempting to provide.
I’d go so far as to argue that this is still the reason for failure in the Internet channel. While companies tend to be more cautious and circumspect, the losers still outnumber the winners. I expect that the majority of companies aren’t so much “succeeding” as “surviving,” and suspect it’s for very much the same reason.
There is one caveat: the book is woefully outdated. Even though it was last updated in 2002, there is still scant mention of the impact of the Internet on marketing, or a correlation of existing principles to the new media, which leaves the reader to sort that out for himself. But in spite of the lack of information and the outdated nature of some of what’s there, the majority is still applicable, regardless of the channel.