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3 Elements of Modern Marketing Success: Visibility, Credibility, and Distinctiveness

Anyone who’s taken a business course or read about marketing knows the four Ps: product, placement, pricing, and promotion (and people). Give each a little thought and you’ll grow and prosper. That was true in the 1950s, but not today!

Nowadays, the number of businesses grows faster than the number of people. Even without other challenges to cope with, marketers face significantly more competition each decade than the decade before. Add the sheer growth in number of competitors to the growing reach of competitors via better shipping and the web, and many businesses have actually seen exponential growth in their level of competition.

What it comes down to in today's business world is that covering the bases is no longer enough. To succeed, marketers must do whatever it takes (often more than it used to) to achieve the three critical components of success in any competitive, crowded market:

  • Visibility: You have to be highly visible by showing up early to get a good spot near the center aisle, for instance, and showing enough inventory to draw shoppers over to your cart or booth.

  • Credibility: You have to be instantly credible by offering good quality, being consistent and fair, getting to know people and developing a good reputation, and handling complaints and returns with appropriate grace. Also, behind the scenes, being expert enough at growing, making, or sourcing that your selection is good and buyers have confidence that they’re getting the best from you.

  • Distinctiveness: There’s an element to the modern market that’s different, at least in importance: the need to be distinctive in comparison to others. If you have the only cart that sells fresh fruit at the market, that’s distinct enough (to use a simple analogy). What if the market has ten fresh fruit vendors? Now you may have a problem. Even if you’re reasonably visible and credible, you may still get only a tenth of the business. How can you gain on those close competitors? By being more visible and more credible, to be sure. But it also helps a lot to add distinctiveness. What if yours is the only organic fresh fruit in the market? Now you have an important point of distinction, and you stand to win a disproportionate share of sales.

As markets get more crowded and competition comes from the e-marketing as well as traditional competitors, it’s important to decide what makes you distinctive in the market. As soon as you seem substitutable, you’ll be lost in the shuffle. But what about the old four Ps? Still important but only as a foundation to the new three elements of success. A distinctive and credible product, placed so as to be highly visible, may win the day. But unless you salt your four Ps liberally with elements of visibility, credibility, and distinctiveness, you’ll fail. It’s really not enough to show up anymore, even if you come with all the basics. Success in a market that gets more competitive every year relies on a great deal more than basics!

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