It took me almost a decade to realise what marketing is, is not and should be. About 8 years ago — at the age of 19 — I started to work as a student marketing assistant at a fast-growing financial service provider where smart software engineers created products and services that marketers had to sell. To me marketing was the last link of a chain. Back then I didn’t have clue it could be just as well the other way around.
Five years later I found myself in Latin America, among a team of brand consultants and within a marketing and rebranding process of a large tv channel. While the new brand should become shiny and desirable, the product wasn’t appealing at all and thus the brand couldn’t be either. “Good advertisement kills the bad product faster”, I said to myself, started reading David Ogilvy and left the team for another one.
During my various studies in the field of design I was lucky being taught by teachers focusing on the bigger picture and spreading an integrated approach. Hence the term design doesn’t work with the narrow German meaning, but with the English idea of creating the new and engineering the unthought and undone. At different stages of both my educational and early professional career I learnt what surprising results can be generated by combining strategic / analytic thinking with creative / conceptual thinking.
Earlier this year I joint the Hasso-Plattner-Institut and its School of Design Thinking postgraduate programme. Within multidisciplinary teams of psychologists, strategic controllers, media scientists and law students I dove even deeper into projects causing “creative destruction” — a term Theodore Levitt used in his famous 1960 article “Marketing Myopia” — to use product and service innovations reinventing whole organsations. How ever you might call the tool set combining close observation of customer behaviour, analytical thinking and collective ideation it’s all about the mindset behind it.
Marketing being an art and science at the same time is capable of being the source of change in organisations, is able to challenge convention and achieve new growth. To me marketing isn’t just about selling goods others invented, built and want to get rid of anymore. To me marketing is about conducting wholistic experiences and designing interactions between brands and people that last. It is about prototyping, testing and measuring those plus permanently improving these. Marketing is about understanding people’s behaviour and collecting knowledge about their needs, habits and desires to create new businesses, new products and new services.
All this only leads to one conclusion: that marketing as a highly user-centric discipline must be used as a glue between all links of the chain in development processes for products and services — used by people using both parts of their brain.
This text was originally written as ‘Letter of Motivation’ for a marketing class I eventually never took.