Are Marketers, The Educators of the 21st Century?
Willingly or unwillingly and like it or not, marketers are the modern-day teachers. Teachers on a global scale and the screen is their classroom. Teachers and leaders with millions of followers. Why you may ask? Well, what do teachers do? They arouse curiosity in their students. They give them the ability to solve problems. They open new horizons in the minds of their pupils. They give them the knowledge someone else had put in the work of discovering. More importantly, they shape behaviour by how and what they teach.
The Oxford Learner’s Dictionary definition of teach is:
- to help somebody learn something by giving information about it
- to show somebody how to do something so that they will be able to do it themselves
The Cambridge University Dictionary definition of teacher is:
- a person who instructs or trains others
How are marketers the teachers of the 21st century?
What is the thing everyone is most curious about today? What is the first thing people try to find out in the morning? That’s right, the first thing we do in the morning is to find out what is happening on our phone screens. And this goes on throughout the whole day. We are most curious about what the next email or social media and news feed will be. It also happens that the screen is the natural habitat for the modern-day marketer.
Specifically, in social media, a big part of the feed comes not from close friends or family. It comes from influencers which are often marketers as well. People “follow” them because they like them, and often they want to be like them. A social media influencer has the power to not only make users buy a product or a service. They are capable of shaping people’s behaviour by giving an example with their behaviour which is constantly exposed to their followers’ screens.
Solving a problem
Teachers give their students the ability to solve problems by provoking critical thinking in their students which will help them later in life. Marketers expose problems that their audience did not know they had. The next step is to offer them solutions to that same problem in the form of a product or service. In marketing, there is a process called “Consumer Decision Making Process”. The first step of this process is called “Need Recognition” or “Problem Recognition”.
The best and probably most popular example of how “Need Recognition” works comes from Henry Ford and his famous quote “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”.
An inventor, discoverer, scientist, or a problem solver achieves a breakthrough in their field, and it is the teacher/marketer’s job to popularise and let others know of this breakthrough/product/service. It is the way innovation and progress are made.
Another great example from history is the Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison rivalry. It is well known in the scientific world that Tesla was a better scientist and inventor than Edison. However, Edison was the better marketer, therefore and to this day, he is being considered as a more popular figure in the history books. More importantly, his idea of how to deliver electricity to consumers was the one that we still use today. The idea Tesla had was different and was supposed to be free. Now imagine Tesla was as good of a marketer as Edison. We could have had free electricity today.
The second step of the “Consumer Decision Making Process” is “Information Search”. The Oxford dictionary definition of teaching is “to help somebody learn something by giving information about it”. In marketing, the process is slightly different. Marketers give information to their customers to satisfy a need they have. This means that the audience is looking for information that the marketers give and with educators this information is set by the curriculum.
If you think about it, which is the information you would be most interested in? The one that is given to you whether you want it or not or the one you have looked for? The answer to this question shows how powerful is the influence marketers have.
“The process of establishing a behaviour that is not learned or performed by an individual at present is referred to as Shaping. Shaping can also be defined as the procedure that involves reinforcing behaviours that are closer to the target behaviour, also known as successive approximations. The concept was first developed and used by B.F Skinner, who is known for his theories that involve learning behaviours through reinforcement.” – Psychestudy.com
Teachers help shape our minds and behaviour for us to become a valuable member of society. They do it when we are young in classrooms. Marketers shape our minds and behaviour for us to be a valuable member of the economic system throughout our whole life. Marketers today are using screens (mobile, PC, TV) as their classrooms.
The difference is in the intention and objectives
Teachers follow a program (curriculum) usually set by the local government. “The term curriculum refers to the lessons and academic content taught in a school or in a specific course or program. In dictionaries, the curriculum is often defined as the courses offered by a school, but it is rarely used in such a general sense in schools. Depending on how broadly educators define or employ the term, curriculum typically refers to the knowledge and skills students are expected to learn, which includes the learning standards or learning objectives they are expected to meet”- edglossary.org
Marketers also follow a program or a plan that is set by a company or organisation. These goals are set by the business when promoting its products or services to potential consumers that should be achieved within a given time frame. A company’s marketing objectives for a particular product might include increasing product awareness among targeted consumers, providing information about product features, and reducing consumer resistance to buying the product. The ultimate marketing goal is to drive more revenue to the business or organisation.
The process is similar, the goal is different. The audience is bigger for the marketers as consumerism is what drives modern society.
Consumerism has never been so influential in humans history as it has been in the past few decades. With the way, social media has gone and the ease of online shopping it will only become bigger. Unfortunately, this type of social behaviour is driving our society to depression, false ideologies and on top of it is destroying our resources and environment.
Marketers hold enormous power in their hands. Not for the first time in this blog I like to reference this power as the force from Star Wars. It has a dark side that is more alluring, it also has a light more difficult to master but much more powerful side. It is in the marketers and influencers hands on how to use it.
A student is only as good as their teacher!
As part of The Novice Marketeer’s mission, I have started the concept of the Marketing for the Common Good (based on the Economy for the Common Good) and with it, I will prove and show how marketing used by the right people with the right goals can help us make the next step of our evolution as a society while keep driving revenue for business or organisations.
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