Marketing must embrace real change!

On a stormy Sunday afternoon in April, I walk along the coast. The wind rages over the waves. Waves with white heads smash themselves on the beach. Again and again. With the wind in my head, I walk along the waterline. It is striking how much plastic trash has been thrown onto the shore. All sorts of things are there; fishing nets, bottles, bags and other plastic garbage. It is a sad sight. Our oceans are drowning in the plastic soup.

This is not the only crisis we face. Those wretched crises are popping up everywhere. Coronacrisis, nitrogen crisis, climate crisis, health crisis, housing crisis, economic crisis… You almost trip over them. We must face the desolate crisis landscape wél. Fortunately, this calamity also offers plenty of opportunities. And in order to capitalize on these, the marketing profession comes into play. Because which organization manages to find a new way out of ééone of these crises deserves the full trust of its customers.

This requires a different marketing approach

Starting in the 1960s, an awful lot of new innovative products were developed. Solving consumer problems was central to these products. Products with all kinds of progressive features were invented for this purpose. Everything was new; from microwaves, CDs, TVs, clothes dryers, Internet, computers to many other products. Just too many to mention. All products that people lined up for. Advertising back then was enough to drive up sales.

When the flow of new products dried up in the following years, companies gradually started cloning each other's successful products. Driven by the desire for more and cheaper, products have become identical and interchangeable. Everything felt the same. Products had lost a luster. It now took more than advertising; the profession of marketing made its appearance.

Today's marketing is concerned with digitizing their craft. Digital capabilities allow marketers to do an excellent job of following their customers through the customer journey. They adhere to the adage ‘without customer journey no success‘. At cleverly chosen moments, they highlight their products. Unfortunately, this abundant digital attention does not solve any customer problems. For most marketers, solving real customer problems has faded into the background and they are too focused on clickbaits.

Embrace a crisis

Those who really want to get their brand and employees moving must have the guts to stand up for their customers' interests. Truly successful organizations will need to have a ‘story’ more than ever. Storytellers who manage to solve a serious problem for their customers gain trust. Embracing a specific crisis can contribute to this. An added benefit is that it makes your organization stand out from all other competitors.

But where do you start? It's easy to think that solving such’a crisis involves a lot. And that's a misconception. Your organization can also do something to solve a crisis. For example, you can help reduce plastic waste. British cosmetics company Lush has taken up the fight against plastic. Lush is all about Zero waste living, or living without waste. Other companies can take a cue from Lush for reducing plastic waste. Think of the ANWB, health insurance companies or banks that still send millions of plastic passes to their customers every year. In this way, every company can come up with a solution for every crisis. A solution that suits the company. This way you create a unique positioning that captures hearts. A real story always strengthens your brand.

Ruud Olijve

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