How to sell in the new economy: It’s the marketing, stupid

There are different new economy models that will be present at NESI and that can help your companies pursuing a fairer world but, in all of them there is an issue that you need to confront sooner or later: how to sell your product or service and be consistent with your principles and values?

Marketing is usually the answer and this answer really scares good hearted business owners because marketing is a word (and a discipline) deeply rooted in capitalism. If you ask around, marketing means pushing sales, creating needs and even fool the people, that for marketing is just “the consumer”, “the target” as the marketing argot calls it in a warlike manner.

But, let’s go back to the beginning. In any company we need to sale something to someone. Can marketing help us doing it following our values? I am confident it can, we just need to look at it with a fresh look, as we are doing with the economic models .

Then, what is marketing? According to Philip Kotler, considered the father of the modern marketing, “Marketing is the science and art of exploring, creating, and delivering value to satisfy the needs of a target market at a profit.” There is nothing wrong with this definition!

Marketing is not about needs, or at least not only about needs and clearly not about creating needs. It is about value. In order to commercialize our products and services we need to create value for our customers and extract value from them.

Marketing is neither about pushing sales and make people buy when they don’t need to by creating consumerist rituals as Black Friday, Cyber Monday or Single day. This is hard selling, focused on a product that I have and need to sell: old school marketing. Marketing today is about finding out what the customer wants, when, and how for how much and then create and market it.

We need to go out of these red oceans of marketing, full of competitors and fierce competition and find and define blue oceans, new spaces where we can explore, create and deliver value and values. Following with Kotler, “the mission of marketing is to raise the material standard of living throughout the world and the quality of life”.

So, our main and first challenge is evaluate if the people, if the market is ready for considering that more sustainable and conscious products and services raise their material standard of living and quality of life. We need to create this “market” through awareness and evangelization so our first marketing goal should be explaining why we are doing things differently.

Once we have a market that finds value in our product, we need to find a fair price for the product. This price is delimited by two quantities: the bottom line is the cost of producing our product or service in a sustainable way for the planet and paying fairly to all the providers and the value that the customer and the top quantity is the value than the customer gets from our product or service.

Regarding distribution or convenience, it means that we need to make our product available for our customers where they want it at the price they are prepared to pay. This price is not only a monetary amount, but also the cost of searching and actually buying the product.

Our customers need to know how much does it cost for them, for the society, for the environment, for the future, to get the product that he want where he wants. For example, we need to make visible the cost of e-commerce, both economically and ecologically against the all free installed in the customer mind. Only then the customer will be choosing freely.

What about the promotion, the last of the classical 4ps of marketing? In a most contemporary approach we refer to it as communication: we need to reflect our values in our communication and look for a balance between promoting our products and respect a non-consumerist way of living. Tough challenge ahead!!

To sum up, we need marketing to have a viable new economy, because companies need to have a profit to be sustainable and contribute to change the world. We won’t change the world if we create product and services that people doesn’t want to buy or at a price that doesn’t match the value perceived. When developing a marketing strategy for our business, we should go back to one of the pillars of the Common Good Economy: the core of a new economy model are the values and those need to be co-created in society, from bottom to top. And always remember that it is just marketing.


Author: Elena Rodríguez Benito,
Lecturer of Marketing and communication at
Universidad Pontificia de Salamanca.