Understanding marketing

Change the way you think about marketing

Eden Yin, course leader and senior lecturer at Cambridge Judge Business School (CJBS), challenges what you think you know about marketing.

“A lot of understanding about marketing is completely wrong.”*

It’s natural to think of competing as the path to the top, but going toe-to-toe with your competition isn’t always healthy. Having a long-term strategic goal instead will prove more valuable for your business.

Eden gives a great example of this: “Marketing is strategy, not tactics. It's not about just putting an ad somewhere on social media and hoping it’ll achieve amazing results. It's a cultural thing.”

One way to “achieve amazing results” is to figure out what your market demands and focus on fulfilling those demands. This means using the right products and services, at the right time and place. Eden suggests engraining this “market-orientated organisation” in your company, from the top down.

It’s very important for business founders and management teams to see things from their customers’ perspective – to understand their needs, desires and motivations.

Your customers “don't actually need a product – they need benefits,” Eden says. “They need a solution, a total experience and return on investment. Many companies focus overly on rational need, but customers are emotional beings – emotion is a key driver for [their] decision making.”

Think about your own choices as a consumer and why you choose certain companies over others. You’ll notice that your choices aren’t all about what you need – they’re about which companies you’re fond of and how you feel about those companies, as a brand.

To understand your market you should undertake research regularly. Eden suggests gathering customer insight for your business, and he’s developed a framework that can help you achieve this.

This framework gives you a holistic view of your marketing and identifies your business’ strengths and weaknesses. You can then use this to go away and build your marketing strategy.

Another way to understand your market is a system Eden has developed called the 5 Cs: customer, company, competitor, collaborator, context. These categories are a helpful way to bring your strategy together.

Next comes knowing how to land your product and figuring out what the right vehicles are. The product and the price need to be right – it’s no good selling a TV in an off-licence, for example.

To help with this, Eden suggests the 5 Ps: product, price, promotion, people, place. He uses these when looking at segmentation, targeting and positioning, all of which can help with growth.

But when it comes to growth, you’ll need to build a story rather than pushing your product. Building a narrative is everything – it should convey how your product could fit in with your consumers’ lifestyle and what benefit it gives them over and above just being a product.

“Growth means selling more, putting it simply,” Eden summarises. “Selling more means you need a very compelling customer-value proposition. [Don’t] push your product harder – growth is a matter of satisfying customer need, and that's in the remit of marketing.”

“Meeting a customer’s need doesn’t have to be tricky,” Eden says. “A lot of people say you have to persuade them. That's nonsense. Customers don't want to be persuaded. You just have to make them feel good. That's all it takes.”

Eden Yin, one of the course leaders and a senior lecturer in marketing at the CJBS, is at the forefront of disruptive marketing. He works with businesses to understand how marketing can give them a competitive edge.

As part of Barclays’ commitment to supporting businesses beyond their day-to-day banking needs, we’ve joined forces with Cambridge Judge Business School to launch the Barclays Scale-Up UK Programme.

As part of this, Eden leads a radical workshop on marketing, which takes the ‘prove it wrong’ approach, busting marketing myths and helping you reflect on where your company’s marketing strengths lie.

Find out more about the programme and its modules.

*Quotations have been edited for length and clarity.


  • Dispelling common marketing myths
  • How to develop a market-orientated organisation
  • Understand your customers’ perspective
  • Understand your customers’ emotional needs
  • Market analysis
  • Delivering a value proposition
  • Peer-to-peer learning


  • Definitions of your customers’ needs
  • Understand your customers’ needs
  • Methods for connecting with your customers
  • A market analysis framework – the 5 Cs
  • A segmentation, targeting and positioning framework – the 5 Ps
  • How to reconfigure your business around a marketing strategy