I once worked with a great Sales and Marketing Director who would put his head in his hands whenever someone said: “The aim of marketing is to generate demand”. We were selling high-value telecoms solutions, not hair spray…
His exasperation stemmed from his lack of belief that even the most competent marketer could generate demand. To him, the need came first and that was what we should focus on. We could argue about the semantics of ‘demand’ and ‘need’, but the point he was making taught me a very important lesson. If we identify the need, and provide a solution, we don’t have to try to change the customer. Put another way, there are plenty of unsatisfied needs in both B2B and B2C markets. You can either focus on providing great products that address these needs, or try to push the customer into accepting your imperfect solution. For this reason, marketers should never forget that Product is one of the four ‘Ps’ of marketing.
Today ‘push marketing’ is falling out of favour, and everyone is encouraged to adopt ‘content marketing’ and ‘inbound marketing’. My former colleague would be very pleased!
PS Don’t get hung up on the word product. For product read “product and service mix“.