Traditional marketing says that you have a product or service and that you have to try to get that product or service into the possession or use of as many people as possible, so that you can make as much money as possible. So you have to go out into the world and put up billboards, and place ads in newspapers and on Facebook, and appear in videos on YouTube, and get interviewed on radio and television, all with the aim of contacting, persuading, and conquering the resistive impulses of as many people as possible. The person in the street is almost an antagonist, whose lack of attention at first, then lack of motion then lack of commitment are all your enemies. The job of the marketer is the quest of the protagonist to overcome all the odds and get a customer. It looks like the 'reactor' which drives your business is You, or your marketing department.
But this is kind of upside down.
The only happy and satisfied customers you will end up with, in any business,
are the ones for whom your product or service was an exact fit for a hole or gap or void in their lives: the perfect pizza, the perfect winter jacket, the perfect car insurance deal all fitted the hunger, the lack of comfort or the anxieties and budget of there respective customers.
What then moved each customer towards fulfilment?
Was it the pizza? Or the jacket? Or the insurance papers?
Was it a marketing campaign? Or was it the customer's original need?
Marketing is not so much a battle between a protagonist and an antagonist as it is a playing out of vacuum power which moves the prospect into becoming a customer and then moves the customer forward: customers are glued to the product or service by the question ‘How will my vacuum get filled?’
The linear vacuums created by 'What happens next?' combine with the mystery vacuums generated by 'What is really going on?' and add to the prospect’s vacuums to build a vacuum-powered machine. But without the prospect's vacuums, the whole thing would stall and stop.
Once the prospect has been shown that his or her basic need has been understood, he or she becomes a customer. Then we are in core vacuum territory: the customer must use the product or receive the service to have his or her core vacuum filled.
There are two parts then: firstly, show an understanding of a basic need to a prospect until he or she becomes committed, and becomes a customer; then assist that customer to achieve fulfilment.
In the first part, the basic need is focused, magnified and intensified into a core vacuum, with one sole aim, whether the marketers know about vacuum power or not: to get the prospect’s commitment to the product or service.
The prospect’s core desire or need needs to be tapped into. It is the role of the prospect's core vacuum to take things to the highest possible ‘notch’, to generate the maximum possible pulling power.
They then become a customer. Now they just need help to fulfil the original need.
What we are accustomed to describing as marketing is a string of different types of vacuums leading up to a point of commitment and to the core vacuum.
But it's a prospect's vacuums, assisted and magnified by linear vacuums, mystery vacuums and moral vacuums which produce a commitment to the product or service where the prospects become customers.
Then the business provides support in application until the core vacuum is filled.
That's the difference between a shallow ‘sale’ which tries to jump straight into the core vacuum, and a longer, cleverer marketing cycle which acquires the participation of the prospect using customer, linear, mystery and moral vacuums. Lesser or simpler businesses are built around a core vacuum and nothing else - they depend on voluntary customer participation, if you like.
More complex and more successful businesses use every vacuum at their disposal to obtain genuine, lasting and conscious commitment. But all of it is driven by the prospect's basic need.
Less successful businesses rely on too few of these vacuums, if they are even aware of them at all, and generally fail to connect them up in any meaningful way.
But no doubt you have thought of businesses with substantial variations to this pattern. ‘It’s all too simple and mechanical,’ a little voice may be saying in your head.
The truth is that most businesses follow a classic pattern - but there are four basic patterns in total.
Let’s examine the first and most common pattern next time.
Next: A Typical Marketing Sequence