The aim of marketing is to make selling superfluous … to know and understand the customer so well that the product or service fits him and sells itself.1
Who would argue with this pronouncement—made more than 40 years ago—by management's legendary thinker Peter Drucker? What I really want to know is how he would respond to the question, “Is the aim of product development to make marketing superfluous?” To me, the answer has the power to transform the way we think about marketing and about business in general.
Drucker's statement implies that to scale revenue generation we must automate the work of the sales organization as much as possible by making the buyer's journey more self-service and transactional. Regardless of whether companies are pursuing this goal, customers have taken the first bit to heart, bypassing sales for most of the journey. Analyst data shows that more than half of the buyer's journey is typically completed before the buyer even reaches out to sales.2 The challenge for marketers is to manage and influence that first leg of the buyer's journey. If marketers do not deliver experiences for the self-directed buyer, their companies will lose out to those companies that do. Many, in fact most, companies aren't doing this enough, and they're missing out.
In most companies, there are two zones of engagement for buyers in this phase of the journey: one consisting of third-party properties ...