Whenever you want to learn a bit more about a specific topic, you lean towards articles, books, videos, and more about such topics, right?
However, there are always options that give you insight or practical examples of the information you are researching.
In this particular case, I want to recommend you 4 different novels that can show you the practical usage of Marketing, within a fiction setting.
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
“But we could sell tea in crystal glasses. The people will enjoy the tea and want to buy the glasses.”
The Alchemist is a sensational book that tells Santiago’s journey of self-discovery, which consists of finding a treasure at the foot of the Egyptian pyramids. Even though you can learn a lot about culture, religion, personal growth, you are also presented with some insight into Marketing, more precisely in Customer Experience.
When the protagonist finds himself lost in a market in Tangier, Marocco, he ends up asking an old crystal merchant for work in exchange for some food. The merchant declined, but Santiago ended up cleaning the store on his own, which lead to some customers getting inside the store and buying some crystals. Afterward, the merchant offered him a job, which he accepted with the condition of him leaving after a year when he had enough money to go his way.
The experience grew on Santiago and then he decided to improve the exposition of the crystals, by building a display outside the shop — a base premise of any brand that wants to increase its sales. However, the cream of the crop was when he decided to put the crystals to use in the shop, through the selling of tea that was served in those crystals. Suddenly, a simple improvement in the customer experience became both a service and product selling, as the clients tried the crystals first hand, whilst drinking some refreshing tea.
As the experience improved, the news of the store spread, and the merchant had to hire two more employees, as his business was now branching out and generating more revenue. As for Santiago, he ended up having more than double what he was expecting and ended up following a more suitable path for him, aware of the positive impact he created on both the store and its customers.
The Little Prince by Saint-Exupéry
“(…) But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world…”
A modern classic that tells the tale of a child prince who travels the universe to gain more knowledge about it. In his travels across a series of small planets, the prince encounters different adults who ended up being absorbed by the function they provide in their respective planets. Each grown-up has his own purpose and personality and this can be given as an analogy to the different types of target audiences which compose the market.
Despite knowing such different personalities along the way, it is only when the prince arrives at Earth and befriends a fox that he fully understands that a relation between two individuals requires effort and knowledge about them and what surrounds them. Thanks to this conclusion the prince understands that he needs to go back to his planet to take care of the anthropomorphic rose which inhabits his planet and he loves with all his heart.
The same works for a brand that wants to launch a particular product or service in the market. First, it needs to study the market and the target audience to which the communication should be directed to. Let us take the example of Chicco. We all know that most of its products are for the direct usage of babies, however, the latter is not their target audience, simply because the ones who acquire them are the babies’ parents.
So, just like the Little Prince took off to look for a target for the love he was craving to share, a brand needs to invest resources and time to define and establish its target audience, to assure its growth.
Caim by José Saramago
“I feel that what happens to me must have a meaning, some sense, I feel that I should not stop halfway without finding out what it is about.”
Caim (Cain in Portuguese) is a book that presents a subverted version of Cain’s life, named in The Bible as the first murderer. After killing his own brother in cold blood, God marked and cursed him to live indefinitely as an aimless wanderer.
Cain lives throughout key events of the Old Testament, trying to seek some sort of redemption and inner peace, however, the mark which he bears on his forehead doesn’t make his objective any easier, as everyone immediately recognizes him as the one who murdered his own kin. Nonetheless, he never gives up.
And now you ask: “But Daniel, how is this even related to Marketing?”
Think of Cain as a brand. He made a severe mistake that cost him his reputation and the trust of others, and the fact that he was visibly marked for the rest of the eternity, the recuperation process was just as painful as the downfall. Take Volkswagen for example — the ‘Cain’ of the Dieselgate scandal — , the company was accused of manipulating pollution emissions from its diesel vehicles to circumvent US law.
That maneuver cost VW a prestigious position in the market, with its stocks dropping 2,69% in the week following the scandal, whilst its European suppliers suffered even further, with a loss of over 5%. And then came the loss of its customers’ allegiance. The ones who ultimately were going to buy their vehicles ended up not doing so because they no longer trusted the manufacturer or even the industry itself.
Nowadays, VW is slowly but surely climbing to the top, having already registered a worldwide record sale of 6.23 million cars, in 2017. Also, VW has a newly established and transparent investment strategy, up until 2022, that actually respects the environment, in the hopes that it will be able to reshape its image.
The story of Cain, in this book, hits a similar spot when it comes down to shareholders’ and customers’ perceptions of a brand. They talk with their money, either by investing or buying the products. So, if a costly mistake is made there are only two options: you either give up, succumb financially, and lose the respect of the general public, or you face the consequences and immediately try to work consistently on a comeback, just like Cain.
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
“I work for nothing but my own profit, which I make by selling a product people are willing and able to buy. I do not produce it for their benefit at the expense of mine, and they do not buy it for my benefit at the expense of theirs (…)”
Atlas Shrugged is a novel known to have identified the philosophical current Objectivism — a philosophy that defends capitalism and the prevalence of the individual — however, there is more to be absorbed from this rich piece of literature, like the necessity and purpose of Marketing.
Being concise, Marketing is the process of getting people interested in a product or service. This is possible through market research, analysis, and understanding your customer’s interests. Ultimately, it is present in all aspects of a business, including product development, distribution methods, sales, and — the most commonly associated with — advertising.
Throughout Atlas Shrugged, you can follow the decline of the Industrialized West, and, in the midst of the dramatized meetings and conversations, you can retain parts where the usage of Marketing would benefit the named company, victim of that downfall. For instance, in chapter V, there is a board meeting where the intervening discuss how they can minimize the losses. The pursued option is shutting down a specific railroad to use its materials to reinforce a more profitable one.
This can be used as a case study — a fictional and flawed one, of course — because firstly they present the results so far, the immediate problem ahead, and some mild solutions and their possible outcomes. However, the board members lack the ability to actually study the situation in-depth and tackle the problem head-on, with a fully structured Marketing strategy, which leads them to fail to achieve the objective of minimizing the losses.
The act of trading products and/or services is based on a non-expressed trust treaty between buyer and seller, but the reason that treaty exists is due to Marketing being able to connect both stakeholders through an extensive and detailed process, which ultimate goal is to generate revenue.