Okay, so we have all learned about the 4P's of marketing in undergrad: Product, Place, Price and Promotion. If not, you can open up one of your old marketing text books, blow off the dust and read about it there. The 6 C's, however, is a not a concept that replaces the 4 P's; rather, it just expands on the promotion element and provides a more granular approach to consumer marketing.
In this day and age, a company's marketing strategy needs to be customer focused. It's about understanding the target consumer; their wants, needs and motivations. Not as demographics, psychographics or any other graphics, but as real people. Its understanding why customers do what they do (or don't do),when they do it and why they do it. Such knowledge is critical in marketing since having a strong understanding of buyer behavior will help shed light on what is important to the customer. It's about focusing on the target customer first and then working back to the brand. It's imperative that companies have mindshare before focusing on market share.
Companies need to maintain consistency in their message; a practice called integrated marketing communications - from packaging and advertising to sales promotion and publicity. This will maintain and reinforce a brand's personality and image in a real life context and avoid doing something brainless like changing the distinctive color of the UPS truck to orange. I am sure it's been talked about.
Creativity is imperative to attract attention in a world cluttered with thousands of messages. Creativity means laying aside the rules, and engages in out-of-box thinking so that marketers can reach beyond logic and structure and tap into their imaginations.
* Creativity Informs: Marketing's responsibility to inform is greatly enhanced by creativity. Creativity makes marketing more vivid, and many researchers believe vividness attracts attention, maintains interest, and stimulates consumers' thinking.
* Creativity Persuades: The ancients Greeks created legends and myths about gods and heroes -symbols for humankind's instinctive longings and fears - to influence human behavior and thought. Today's marketers are doing the same thing; they are creating new myths, heroes and symbols like Ronald McDonald, the "Can You Hear Me Now" guy from Verizon, and more recently the Gecko from Geico Insurance.
* Creativity Reminds: Imagine using the same invitation, without any creativity, to remind people to try a particular product everyday for a month. The invitation would become stale very quickly. Only creativity can transform boring reminders into interesting, entertaining marketing communications. Nike is proof. Several commercials in a Nike campaign never mention the company name or even spelled it out on the screen. Each communication told a story. And, the only on-screen cue identifying the sponsor was a single "swoosh" logo inscribed on the final scene.
All marketing communications needs cross-cultural research to be able to succeed. It's simple to see things from your own perspective, assuming that everyone else in the world thinks exactly like you and should understand what's so great about your product or service. Just reading about all the mistakes made by large corporations proves that even the most sizable and experienced marketers have made errors time and again.
One of the most famous examples is Coca Cola translating the name into Chinese without back-translating it ("bite the wax tadpole"), ultimately resulting in a horrible response from an insulted society. Marketing books are full of examples like these. As David Ogilvy, known as the Father of Advertising, states, "If you are trying to persuade people to do something, or buy something, it seems to me you should use their language, the language in which they think".
This one is basic. Consumers don't want to be "marketed to". Rather, they want to be "communicated with". Good marketing communication creates value with target customers, speaks in their language and tells your story. It's about building long term, trustworthy, and profitable relationships with your customers. As Seth Godin states, it's about reinforcing the lies that consumers tell themselves everyday (i.e. I look much better in these jeans from Abercrombie; they make me look sexy).
Marketing is not just a business function, but a process. There is a beginning, middle, but there is never an end. Marketers must constantly CHANGE as society changes. They should never be afraid to try something new. Marketing today is not what it was 2 - 5 - or even 20 years ago. Marketing needs to be an evolving process that considers change in the world, economy, market, consumers; as well as internal change within the organization.
Conclusion (not the 7th C)
So there it is; the 6 C's of marketing - Customer, Consistency - Creativity - Culture - Communication and Change. I am sure that these will be published in every text book in the country within the next ten years and I will be a rich, well known author. Yeah right!