and Place Marketing - The Product
By Sam Vaknin
II. The Product
What products do countries offer and market and
how are they tailored to the needs of specific
In a marketing mix, the first and foremost element
is the product. No amount of savvy promotion and
blitz advertising can disguise the shortcomings
of an inferior offering.
Contrary to entrenched misinformation, the role
of marketing precedes the development of the product.
The marketer gathers information regarding the
expectations of the target market (the customers).
In the case of a country, its clients are its
citizens, investors (both foreign and domestic),
tourists, export destinations, multilateral organizations
(the international community), non-governmental
organizations (NGOs), and neighboring nations-states.
The marketer communicates to statal decision-makers
what features and benefits does each of these
disparate groups desire and suggests how to reconcile
their competing and often contradictory needs,
interests, preferences, priorities, and wishes.
The marketer or brand manager then proceeds to
participate in the design of the country's "products":
its branding and public relations campaigns both
within and without its borders, its investment
laws and regulations, the development and presentation
of its tourist attractions, the trumpeting of
the competitive or unique qualities of its export
products, the tailoring and monitoring of its
mutually-beneficial relationships with neighbors,
NGOs, and international organizations.
In designing its "products" and, thus,
in acquiring a brand name, a country makes use
of and leverages several factors:
1. Natural Endowments
The country's history, geographical location,
tourism sites, climate, national "mentality"
(hard working, forward looking, amicable, peaceful,
2. Acquired Endowments, Public Goods, and Externalities
Level of education, knowledge of foreign languages,
quality of infrastructure, the court, banking,
and public health systems
3. Risk Mitigation
International standing and the resolution of
extant conflicts (political risk), the country's
laws, regulations, and favorable international
treaties, its credit history, insurance available
to investors and exporters
4. Economic Prowess
Growth promoting policies, monetary stability,
access to international credit, the emergence
of new industries
Governments can influence many of these factors.
Granted, there is little they can do about the
country's past history or climate - but pretty
much all the rest is up for grabs. Aided by input
from its brand managers and marketers, a country
can educate its population to meet the requirements
of investors and exporters. It can improve infrastructure,
reform the court system, pass growth-promoting
laws, cut down red tape, support monetary stability,
resolve conflicts with the international community
and so on.
It is important to understand that the "products"
and brand name of a country are not God-given,
unalterable quantities. They can and should be
tailored to optimize the results of the marketing
and branding campaigns.
Maintaining the country's brand name and promoting
its products are ongoing tasks - not one off assignments.
They require a constant infusion of financial
and human resources to conduct research and development
to evaluate the shifting sentiments of the country's
clients. States and regions are no different to
corporate entities. They, too, must gauge and
study their markets and customers at every turn
and respond with alacrity.
Exactly like commercial outfits, political entities
seek to extract a price for their offerings and
products. Increasingly, the price they can obtain
is settled by highly efficient global markets
in perceptions, goods, and services. As competition
stiffens and the number of state-players increases,
the barriers to entry become more formidable.
This is the topic of our next article.
Sam Vaknin is the author of Malignant Self
Love - Narcissism Revisited and After the Rain
- How the West Lost the East. He served as a columnist
for Central Europe Review, PopMatters, Bellaonline,
and eBookWeb, a United Press International (UPI)
Senior Business Correspondent, and the editor
of mental health and Central East Europe categories
in The Open Directory and Suite101. Until recently,
he served as the Economic Advisor to the Government
of Macedonia. Visit Sam's Web site at http://samvak.tripod.com