One Blog |May 12, 2014 | POS Tracking Software

POS Marketing - The World’s Oldest Profession?

Mark Fullerton

Now that I have your attention — wait. Please give me just another minute before you “hang up” — with what may seem a bit of a tease:

About Marketing

Marketing is simultaneously one of the oldest professions in the world and one of the youngest academic and practical “disciplines”. 

OK, marketing is the second oldest profession in the world, if you must know.

Peter Drucker Says:

But, even the practitioners of the “oldest profession” have to rely on marketing to enable them to better purvey their — um — “wares”.  According to Peter Drucker:

“Marketing is so basic that it cannot be considered a separate function. It is the whole business seen from the point of view of its final result, that is, from the customer’s point of view… Business success is not determined by the producer but by the customer.”

Winston Churchill Says:

While I’m quoting the heavy-weights of the past 100 years, Sir Winston Churchill said:

“Advertising nourishes the consuming power of men. It creates wants for a better standard of living. It sets up before a man the goal of a better home, better clothing, better food for himself and his family. It spurs individual exertion and greater production. It brings together in fertile union those things which otherwise would not have met.” [Sic — During Churchill’s time “man” as used in his quote was not politically incorrect]

Consumer Reports Says:

Again, I ask for your indulgence as I promise I will at least generally tie the above quotes to the concepts that interest us all here in “Point-of-Sale Marketing-land” while I quote from a considerably more contemporary source, the June 2014 issue of Consumer Reports:

“Everybody has an ad come-on they love to hate.”

The headline teaser-article, “Ad Tactics that Bug Americans the Most” is short on text and long on graphics categorizing and quantifying (via the Consumer Reports “GRIPE-O-METER”) the percentage of Americans who are annoyed by 18 marketing practices. Getting permission to show you the Grip-O-Meter would probably be difficult, but I think it will be OK to tell you that according to Consumer Reports:

Survey Results:

Of those American’s surveyed, the following partial-list represents marketing tactics that annoy (by percentage and type of marketing practice):

- 71% - Fake official-looking mail, like mock bills

- 70% - Ads for cure-alls with exaggerated claims

- 63% - TV Ads that seem louder than regular programs

- 50% - Fast-talking disclaimers on TV or radio ads

- 44% - Asterisks tie to tiny disclaimers in magazines, etc.

- 42% - Infomercials

- 38% - Ads for personal or sensitive medical conditions

Later, in the magazine is a photo-story depicting ads that annoy and amuse as part of a special Consumer Reports feature called “Selling It”. 

After reading the text, reviewing the graphics and studying the photos of annoying, dumb and perhaps confounding ads, one, probably unscientific, fact bubbled to the surface: 

Of all of the statistics Consumer Reports gleaned and of all of the pictures they used to underscore their point, only one annoying or confounding ad or promotional piece was a Point-of-Sale ad (sign, display, etc.); and, I’m pretty much convinced that the picture of the 2-quart Coke display with the back-drop signage proclaiming “Effortless Meals” was not so much annoying POS rather than misplaced POS or misplace product.

Now For The Wrap Up

Marketing, according to some, is the second oldest profession in the world. In a place and time where the consumers of marketing content have perhaps become as savvy or even more savvy than the producers of said content, we have either arrived at an “a-ha” moment or an “I told you so" moment.

Organizations like POPAI and the Path to Purchase (See End-note) may feel justified in proclaiming they “told us so”, as early as the mid-1990’s, when their studies demonstrated that 70% of all buying decisions are made at the point-of-sale.

Or perhaps they will be more gracious and nurturing and say we have more evidence of an “a-ha” event when we review the data that indicates TV viewership is down; TV viewership in the critical age-group known as the Millennials is way down; and that consumers will do just about anything to “hop” (or skip) over commercials on TV with their DVR’s.

Then couple these data-points with a Consumer Reports marketing study that finds consumers are annoyed by just about every kind of ad — TV, web and print — in existence, except for Marketing at-Retail advertising (aka POS Marketing). 

It may be time for the practitioners of the second oldest profession in the world to go back to school for an update, and learn the impressive power of POS marketing; and learn that POS marketing programs, when tracked, measured and managed can be strongly correlated with sales results. Maybe it’s time to move on, or at least put POS marketing in its place — which some would say is first place.

If a key goal of your marketing initiatives is to encourage sales increases by tracking, measuring and managing POS materials, then POS Marketing should be your Newest Profession.

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POPAI - The Global Association For Marketing At Retail:

The Path to Purchase Institute:

Consumer Reports, June 2014 issue p 11, pp 60-63: 

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