When I started this blog, I dreamed of the day I would unpack hardcore engineering principles applied to marketing. Here is my 1st attempt.
Marketing is more than catchy slogans and flashy ads—designing and delivering end-to-end solutions that meet consumer needs in an increasingly competitive and ever-changing environment.
Like building a bridge, a hospital, or a skyscraper, the amount of data, user and legal requirements, and possible solutions is nearly infinite in marketing. But fear not, dear marketers! You can wield a secret weapon to conquer the challenges: systems engineering.
What is systems engineering?
Think of systems engineering as the ultimate tool belt for marketers. It's an interdisciplinary approach that helps tackle complex problems by understanding the interdependencies and interactions within a system. It's like having X-ray vision to see how all the pieces fit together!
At its core, systems engineering utilizes systems thinking principles to organize this body of knowledge.
In today's marketing world, the complexity has gone through the roof. It's no longer possible to approach this function with straightforward concepts. To better come to the task, marketers that apply systems engineering define customer needs and required functionality early in the development cycle, document requirements, then proceed with design synthesis and system validation while considering the complete problem.
But what is a marketing system?
A marketing system is a set of elements that create and deliver value to consumers and companies. It could include products, services, processes, people, information, technology, resources, competitors, regulations, etc. A marketing system can also span multiple levels of analysis, such as individual customers, segments, markets, industries, regions, or even the entire world.
A marketing system is not static or isolated. It is dynamic and complex, constantly evolving and adapting to changes in customer preferences, technology, competition, regulations, and other factors. It is interconnected with other systems, such as social, economic, environmental, and political systems. Picture your marketing system as an interconnected web.
Unleashing the Power of Systems Engineering in Marketing
Now, prepare to flex your marketing muscles with systems engineering:
- Embrace a holistic perspective and consider the entire marketing system and its environment. It's not just advertising and communications...
- Follow a structured and rigorous process, like using the scientific method for hypothesis research. It guides you through identifying, analyzing, synthesizing, validating, and optimizing marketing opportunities.
- Deploy various tools and analytical methods, including modeling, simulation, A/B testing, decision-making, risk management, and trade-off analysis of alternatives. Aka "Data-driven marketing..."
How to Become a Marketing Maestro with Systems Engineering
- Define clear and measurable marketing objectives that align with customer needs and your company's goals. Hit the bullseye!
- Craft a comprehensive marketing plan that maps out your target market, unique value proposition, strategic pricing, distribution strategy, promotion strategy, and even your supercharged customer relationship management strategy.
- Design a killer marketing mix where each product, price, place, and promotion element is carefully selected for maximum impact. Think of it as assembling the Avengers of marketing!
- Implement your marketing communication plan with gusto! Utilize segmentation analysis, customer journey mapping, marketing automation, reach-based paid media, media analytics, search engine optimization, content or email marketing, influencer marketing—whatever it takes to captivate your audience.
- Track your progress like a vigilante, monitoring and evaluating key performance indicators (KPIs) such as revenue, market share, customer satisfaction, retention, and even the elusive customer lifetime value.
- Continuously improve your marketing system by keeping your superhero senses sharp. Analyze behavioral outcomes data, conduct surveys, and ethnographic interviews, read your reviews, and embrace positive testimonials and the occasional complaint. The marketing universe is constantly evolving, so stay ahead of the curve!
Systems engineering has already empowered various marketing superheroes across companies like Uber, Netflix, Amazon, and Apple.
- Transportation systems engineering - Uber - by integrating complex algorithms, real-time data analysis, and seamless user interfaces, Uber disrupted the traditional taxi industry)
- Software systems engineering - Netflix systems engineers carefully orchestrated a symphony of servers, algorithms, and content recommendation systems to analyze user preferences, viewing habits, and feedback and delivers a personalized and addictive streaming experience, captivating audiences worldwide
- Logistics engineering - Amazon - from optimizing warehouse operations, inventory management, and supply chain logistics to fine-tuning last-mile delivery routes, systems engineering helped Amazon conquer the challenges of global e-commerce
- Product development systems engineering - Apple - by applying systems thinking, Apple engineers seamlessly integrate hardware, software, and user experience, crafting elegant and intuitive products that capture the hearts and minds of millions.
Congratulations on reading so much. You might say, but I already do all this; that's what I learned from Kotler, Sharp, or my former boss. And most of you are right. Marketing is more like engineering than it is like theatre. Some show and stage dramas exist, but most are hard work, systems, and complexity. I love marketing!