Marketing Mixology

by: Doug Michaelides

I’m a fan of the TV show Madmen.  It’s about a Madison Avenue advertising agency in the 1960s.  It is a fantasy universe where stylish, drunken marketers rule the world, creative ideas materialize out of thin air and you can drink all day but still be brilliant.  The show is also a clever social commentary on the status of minorities and women, social responsibility and work/life balance. But a real part of the pleasure of the show for me is the clothes and the ever-present cocktails.

I’m a bartender from way back so, inspired by Madmen, I’ve been rediscovering the ocean of mixed drinks that have poured from the minds of inventive bartenders. I like to think of marketers as the bartenders of a company.  They take ingredients from behind the company’s bar, mix them in a way that appeals to the customer and serve them up with a flourish that helps define the customer experience.  Mixology has been around a lot longer than marketing but the fundamentals are actually quite similar. Here’s what I mean:

  • Like all cocktails, a marketing mix has a base ingredient that is the foundation for the rest of the marketing strategy.  It might be a pricing strategy (“Low prices.  Every day”), the use of direct sales for distribution (“Buy direct from the manufacturer”) or the superiority of the product (“We’re the Rolls Royce of Widgets”).
  • While some people drink straight liquor, there is a reason mixed cocktails exist.  Every target market, like every drinker, has different interests, tastes and needs.  It is the secondary ingredients of the marketing mix, the right combination of price, promotion, packaging and distribution strategies, that elaborate and build on the base strategy to effectively reach the target market.
  • Shaken or stirred? Experimenting with different ways of combining the elements of the marketing mix is the essence of marketing.  In many cases it is the promotional mix that benefits most from this experimentation.  And, like a well-made cocktail, the order in which the various promotional ingredients are executed is almost always important.
  • The right glass and garnish are essential!  Before they even taste what you have to offer, customers form an impression of your company.  The image presented in the style and tone of your marketing, and the way you package yourself (ie.  your brand), are often what encourage them to sidle up to the bar and place their order.

If you’ve stuck with me through this strained metaphor … cheers!  I have to admit that it seemed a whole lot more brilliant last night after a couple of Manhattans.  Ah well, apparently I’m no Don Draper . . .

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