A couple of thing crossed my mind today that I’ll try to intermingle into the point I’m making here. One, a baker that overcharges for a bottle of water. Two, a HR recruitment blog that advises applicants to send a physical letter “to stand out.” All of this is a kind of marketing, at least in the sense of communication. And not all marketing is positive.

The letter definitely classifies as smart marketing. Of course, it’s not just spam. The advice says that the letter should contain a specific pain the applicant is addressing about the company, but the package is “smart,” because it’s different.

Smart marketing only stays smart until people catch on. Hiring managers will read this letter because it stands out, but they’ll get as tired of it quickly when the fifth letter starts rolling in. Smart marketing in this case is an unusual, interesting thing, but not a lasting one.

Back to the bakery. I didn’t go back to it, after the expensive bottle of water. Everything is marketing, pricing and the non-core products that you sell. I can see the rationale behind it: we don’t sell water, we sell bread, but if we do have to do it, let’s make a buck (or two).

The reasoning behind the scenes should really be as follows. We don’t want to be seen as relying on the sale of marginal products, but as standing behind the quality of our bread. We want bread to be the profit drivers because it will continuously push us to make a better product and sell more of it.

All of this ignores the marketing mix of course, in that a business can send out multiple messages in multiple ways. Just like the physical application letter contains consulting advice and is targeted at the right person, it uses many different ways to craft an effective message (maybe). And the baker can of course promote his business in positive ways as well, as this baker did, with 2 for 1 promotions pasted all across the window.

Smart marketing is somewhat broad a term, in that it can mean short-term smart or long-term smart. A short-term smart marketing strategies assumes a highly competitive market and a constant need for change. A long-term marketing strategy relies on sustainable values, such as core-quality, which is often hard to replicate.