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Marketing as Misnomer

Ken Gaebler

Customering - Marketing as Misnomer - Death of Marketing As We Know It
Maybe we should call it "customering" instead of "marketing" -- Do you agree?

Marketing is a dated term and it's time to coin a new phrase to cover how companies influence prospective customers prior to their becoming actual customers.

In his new book "Selling In Tough Times," sales guru Tom Hopkins writes this:

Business isn't about products. It's about serving the needs of the people. In fact, when you hear the term market from now on, I want you to interpret that to mean people.

Basically, what he's saying is that "marketing" is a misnomer. I agree.

Why Do We Call It Marketing?

The word "marketing" dates back to 1896, according to researchers. Initially, it was exclusively a noun, not a verb. Around the turn of the century, marketing was defined by one expert to be "everything the promoter of a product has to do prior to his actual use of salesmen and advertising."

The idea back then was that sales was an attempt to close a deal, often a one-on-one encounter between seller and prospect. In contrast, marketing was about influencing groups of people, or markets as we call them.

"Marketing" Is So 1896 -- It's Time For a Change

Fast forward to 2010.

The Internet is enabling marketers to reach customers on a one-on-one basis, something that used to be called sales.

Behavioral tracking, as it's called, means that my activities on the Web are tracked in such a way that my reputation precedes me wherever I may go.

If I look at a Ford Fusion Hybrid webpage today, guess what will happen a week from today when I'm on a website that has nothing to do with cars?

A Ford Fusion Hybrid ad may magically appear.

Coincidence? Not at all. It's a simple parlor trick for the brainiacs in Silicon Valley.

When I visit the first website, a small bit of code on my computer, called a "cookie," is updated with the information that I'm interested in Ford Fusion Hybrids.

That information is then conveyed to other pages on the web. My interests and inclinations are brokered in a way that allows ads to effectively follow me around the Web.

Make no mistake, big brother is watching you. Not only that, he wants to sell you something. Fortunately, it's something you actually want.

Some call it a massive invasion of privacy. Others call it an incredible marketing innovation.

It's with the latter group that I take exception. We are no longer targeting markets, so let's stop calling it marketing. Let's call it "customering" or something more relevant.

Sure, we've been calling it marketing since 1896. Every business student takes a core course in Marketing 101. Why mess with history? Why tangle with tradition?

To me, the answer is that the old nomenclature doesn't foster innovation. We didn't call the automobile a carriage, and we didn't call the airplane an automobile.

New names bring new ideas. It's time for "marketing" to be put to rest and time for "customering" to seize the day.