Naturally, during the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown, there’s been a real rallying cry from marketers and business experts to “invest in marketing.” And so, lucky for me, I’ve had the wonderful privilege to consult to some amazingly innovative and enthusiastic entrepreneurs and companies. Many are surprised by the intensity and depth of my analysis of their products, services, philosophy and history. Perhaps they were only expecting me to offer some social media marketing and a website? It’s an understandable expectation because marketing has been watered down and ‘quelched’ by marketers themselves.

I thought I’d give you a perspective on marketing, called the Marketing Circles. It might help you if you’re struggling to get a grip on your own strategy. For this part, you’ll need to consult the circle below. If it didn’t load properly on your viewer, you can download a copy here.

Most people (even marketers!) believe that marketing is the outer circle – or the peel. Marketing = advertising, it would seem. The job of marketing in this circle is to take what the company, director or developer gives you and hype it up, promote it and tweet about it. This is what just about everyone does – retailers, charities, politicians, insurance companies, financial advisors, mobile networks etc.

The next circle in has so much more leverage. This circle is about telling a story that resonates with a tribe (consumers as a group based on common collective behaviours rather than only demographics etc). This is the act of creating alignment, of understanding worldviews, of embracing and elevating the commonalities. Smart marketers in this circle acknowledge that their product or service isn’t for everyone, but will do everything to make sure that some people will be able to fall in love with it.

The next circle is easily overlooked (Support and Value). This is your chance to change what surrounds the actual product or service by adding enough usability, support and character so that the perception of the product itself changes. Crocs did this for shoes and Clearvu’s invisible wall did this for fencing. When you go to an expensive restaurant, aren’t you buying far more than just what the chef cooked? Products and services are only commodities if you treat them that way.

And the final, innermost circle is the product or service itself. When the thing you sell has communication built in, when it is remarkable and worth talking about, when it changes the game, then marketing seems a lot easier. If it’s not doing those things, it’s never too late to adapt or re-invent.

When in doubt, or your marketing isn’t working, the answer is easy: go one circle in!