The End Of Average: five key components of great marketing

Peter Zafiris writes of the five key components that contribute to great marketing and lead to lasting and ground-breaking change.


About four and a half years ago, I made a discovery. And this discovery profoundly changed my view on how I thought marketing worked. It even changed the way in which I operated as a marketer. As it turns out, all great marketing starts with an idea. Bringing this idea to life, however, is a totally different ball game.

Let me give you two examples. First, I’ll use Apple because it’s highly recognisable and everyone in the world gets what it does. (Even though according to Marketing editor Peter Roper marketers and academics reference Apple to death… sorry Pete!). But what really sets Apple apart is its relentless quest to challenge the status quo. It’s constantly looking for new ideas, designs, code breakers and innovations to bring to market. Evidence of this is found clearly in its brand positioning: ‘Think different’. That’s it: two words that effectively define and position a brand, which in turn encourages its marketers to innovate and execute.  

Second, Tesla Motors – it topped the Forbes list as the most innovative company in the world in 2015. And for good reason, Tesla is relatively young (founded in 2003) and new. It has reinvented motor vehicle design and has no boundaries when it comes to manufacturing approach. The word ‘disruptor’ gets attached to Tesla all the time. In a recent interview with Forbes, Doug Field, vice president of engineering claimed: ‘We take leaps of faith that are like jumping out of an airplane and designing and building the parachute on the way down.’ As the world continues to move to a more sustainable way of living, and as technology continues to enable they way we live and interact daily, Tesla will continue to disrupt and innovate.

READ: Leading the charge: inside Tesla’s drive to put Australia on the grid »

How exciting this must be as a marketer, to be given permission to constantly and relentlessly challenge and create change. When was the last time you let go, took some risks and then executed something new and different? Challenged the cyclical mundane marketing communications and board packs, rejected the upcoming steering committee meeting and advised your CEO it’s time to change and put an end to average. I’m proud to say I have done this on multiple occasions. Sometimes I made mistakes, but I also had some monumental wins.

Here are five key components that contribute to great marketing and lead to lasting and ground-breaking change.


1. Research

Do your homework. In order to obtain a true understanding of your customers, markets, and target audience you need to uncover hidden issues, problems, dislikes, opportunities, improvements, etc. You need to ask questions. Allow discussion to take place with your customers and gather information on insight and sentiment.

Enough research will enable you to not only identify what your customers want but it will empower you to work out what they want before they do. 

2. Differentiate

Customers don’t care about you at all. They’ve got way too many choices than ever before, and way less time. And in a world where we have too many choices and too little time, the obvious thing to do is just ignore things. According to Seth Godin, the thing that’s going to decide what gets talked about, what gets done, what gets changed, what gets purchased, what gets built, is: ‘Is it remarkable?’

And ‘remarkable’ is a really cool word, because we think it just means ‘awesome’, but it also means ‘worth making a remark about’. And that is the essence of where marketing is going. 

3. Engage

What marketers used to do is make average products for average people. That’s what mass marketing is and it’s dead. The strategy we want to use now is to make the best products to market to the right customers, because they care. These are the people who are obsessed with something. And when you market to them, they’ll listen, because they like listening – it’s about them.

And if you’re lucky, they’ll tell their friends and it’ll spread through the entire market. Suddenly, your target audience will begin to take notice and engage for all the right reasons. Not for what you do, or how you do it. But why you do it. Philip Kotler advocates this in all his books – he calls it, “Creating, communicating and delivering value to a target market at a profit.”

4. Purpose

As a marketer, you need to be driven by a cause, by a higher calling, a guiding purpose, even a belief. You need to believe in why you do what you do. If you talk about what you believe, you will attract those who believe what you believe. This will allow you to influence and ultimately to change the minds and hearts of your stakeholders.

Let’s think back to the product life cycle. The first 2.4% is made up of innovators, the next 13.5% early adopters, the next 34% early majority. The rest is made up of your late majority and your laggards. If you want your idea to be accepted, you need a tipping point. And that’s the point where the innovators, early adopters and majority outweigh the average (the majority and laggards). 

5. Leadership

Marketers can now hold a position of power. To do this they need to inspire and excite. Whether they are communications experts, research managers, or creative directors. We follow those who lead, not because we have to, but because we want to. We follow those who lead, not for them, but for ourselves. And it’s those who challenge, create change and have the ability to inspire the people around them who will win with their marketing.


Image: Flickr CC BY 2.0

Peter Zafiris
BY Peter Zafiris ON 1 March 2016
Peter Zafiris is an industrial marketer and founder of Industrial Ideas, a full-service marketing agency dedicated to industrials. Peter has built his experience in industrial marketing from the ground up. Breaking through red tape, getting the non-believers on side and silencing the critics is what Peter does best. You can email him at
  • Marc Dhalluin

    Thanks, Peter. A good read. How many of your clients give you the space to explore what is possible? I ask to find out whether you look for clients who want that, or whether you’re able to win over a risk averse client. I was fortunate to lead marketing teams for a plc where we demanded ‘risky’ options as part of the solution set.