Marketing: A Dirty Word?

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Not without some degree of complicity on our part, we're somewhat known for an "anti-marketing" marketing approach.  While I think this is bascially an appropriate shorthand description, it's far from the whole story. 

I've always thought that "marketing," in its highest connotation, simply described the efficient means by which producers and consumers met.  It starts with the identification of a product need in the marketplace, which the producer either has the current capacity to provide, or they decide that it makes sense for them to develop this capacity.  Concurrent with this is the identification that the product can be provided to the market at a price in line with market demands (EC101 - price elasticity of demand) and at which the producer can meet its costs and make an acceptable profit.  Distribution is a key step in the whole process, and the producer has to decide if the Value Added Reseller is a reality or not; in making the choice to go with a sales intermediary (basically, a retailer), the producer has to be convinced that their ability to provide the product to the market, and the consumer's experience with the product, is going to be enhanced by the inclusion of the "VA"R.

Promotion is just the next step in this, and is really just a means of helping consumers identify the producer's product and include it in their purchase decision.  Product attributes (consumer benefits, product specifications, capacities, aesthetics, price) need to be made known to the consumer - "hey, we make this thing, it benefits you in these ways by doing these things, and it costs this much."  Mike would describe any of these as a potential point for meaningful differentiation.  A product can perform the same functions better than other options, or perform valuable functions that other options can't perform, or do either or both of those at lower cost, or it can do any or all of this in a more attractive way. 

These are all pretty unglamorous, technical things, right?  Breaking it down, we decided that there was a market for racing frames and complete bikes that provided an equivalent or superior level of performance to more expensive options, and that we had the means to develop the product (in our case, "developing" means acting as an itermediary between an actual producer who wants to be a manufacturer and not a retailer), and could do so at a price that was attractive to the market and which allowed us to make enough money that it was a good way to spend our time and resources compared to other options.  We also decided that within our scope, it made the most sense to retail the product ourselves, since IN OUR CASE the added cost of storefront retailers didn't add value in line with their added costs. 

I capitalise the "in our case" part of that because I want to emphasize that we don't think that storefront bike retail is a valueless entity.  What we do realize is that, for ourselves as we went through our day to day lives as racing cyclists, it wasn't adding value in line with costs.  Costs in this case aren't even necessarily monetary - one of the things that I didn't love about going to a shop was the time investment and obstacles to be overcome in finding what I wanted.  But there are absolutely positively those shops that tick very nearly all of the boxes for customers like us.  I've experienced them first hand, they're just not generally local enough to me, and globally they seem to be very much the exception.  Remember also that I'm talking about a niche customer here - you'd be crazy to go into business trying to serve the customer I'm taking about here.  Oh, wait...  Just kidding, the difference there being that the internet is a better amalgamator of these customers than geography is, so our critical mass draws from a really wide geographic base.

Seriously overstressing the critical word count metric here so I will have to expand the scope and depth in the scintillating PART DEUX!

 


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