Marketing Is Customer Strategy
For the second year in a row, our Target Marketer of the Year is the company’s founder. Founders, in this case.
That’s not an accident. We had many, many great nominations for marketer of the year — you can see some of them among the ranks of the Marketing Visionaries — but the place marketing continues to have a bigger impact in is the business plan itself.
Marketing’s core role inside the company must be to represent the customer.
Yes, there’s an external-facing component of communicating with customers and convincing them to do business with the company and keep doing business with the company, etc. But marketing starts in the business strategy. It starts with understanding what your customers want, how they need to be treated, and then how to communicate to them that you’ll do those things.
When we look at our 2017 marketers of the year, Yakir Gola and Rafael Ilishayev are the co-founders of goPuff, a convenience store delivery app that is entirely rooted in the needs of its customers.
It’s not just that goPuff fills a need for its customers, though. It’s that the brand has grown by making itself a part of their world. goPuff speaks in the language of its customers, prioritizes the products and delivery services they want, and it makes it easy to use the tools those customers are on: smartphones.
A few years ago, I interviewed Daymond John, the marketing-focused star of “Shark Tank,” and founder of the iconic hip hop brand FuBu.
The story John told of founding FuBu reminds me so much of the story Gola and Illishayev tell about founding goPuff. They recognized a culture that was underserved, then they planted their company and brand right in the soil of that culture.
Brands like these don’t grow toward their customers, they grow up among them. Natives of the markets they serve.
In that sense, goPuff is the 21st century version of a mom and pop corner store. They may not be from the same block, but they’re from the same digital neighborhood.
And that’s what it takes to build a great, authentic brand for Millennials today.