Managing Marketing in Changing Environments

Marketing is all about change and successful managers of marketing have to be able to adapt to the changing requirements of the market. Markets are by nature dynamic, in that supply and demand are constantly evolving, resulting from the prevalent economic and environmental conditions and the changing requirements of customers. This means that the marketing function of every business must continually adapt, if it is to successfully anticipate and satisfy customer demand profitably.

The prime responsibility of the Chief Marketing Officer, (CMO) is to generate and maximize sustainable profitable revenue for the business. Therefore, CMOs must be aware of the changing needs of customers and adapt their product or service and its delivery to satisfy them. However, despite the number of “business guru” books available that might suggest otherwise, there are no quick answers in business or marketing, and there is no “holy grail” of guaranteed success.

If the CMO is to achieve and maximize sustainable profitable revenue for the business, he must at all times look in two directions, one inward into the company, and the other outward to the market. Internally, the CMO needs to undertake a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis of the business. In addition, there should be a full marketing audit, to establish the level of corporate marketing knowledge, and to identify unsubstantiated assumptions. Externally, the effective CMO will assess the market environment by undertaking analysis of the political, environmental social and technical aspects that affect customer demand.

To meet with the problems of the dynamic and changing market, the successful marketing manager must be clear minded in analysis and ruthless in decision making.
Every marketing action should be examined on its contribution to the overall marketing objective, and every marketing investment of time and money must be evaluated on how it will contribute to the business. As the former Chairman of Singer and Friedlander Merchant Bank used to say when any investment proposal was discussed, “Will it make a shilling?”

Marketing performance must be monitored by marketers, using a measurement system that is based on key performance indicators and their specific revenue drivers, so that marketing actions may be adjusted to meet changing circumstances.

CMOs must be prepared to make changes in order to achieve success. Yesterday’s marketing solution may not fully answer today’s problem and may need adaptation to meet current conditions. The CMO must also be prepared for an uncomfortable ride. Staff may not like their assumptions to be questioned or have established practices to be examined. However, the effective marketer must be prepared to ask the awkward question, challenging the accepted perceptions and assumptions, and must continually question everything about the process of anticipating and satisfying the market profitably. Such questioning is not for the purpose of eliciting change for the sake of it, neither is it to create doubt and uncertainty, but to clarify thinking so that decisions may confidently be based on the best factual information. The only objective is to make and maximize sustainable profitable revenue. Short term profit will not do if it compromises growth and sustainability. Continuous growth is essential for a business to merely stand still against the normal attrition caused by competitor activity and market changes.

Even in small businesses the principles still apply. If the marketing department consists only of one individual they must consider every element of the marketing mix on the basis of its contribution to the generation of profitable revenue. The problem for the small business marketer is that having to undertake all the marketing disciplines themselves, they can often concentrate too much on specific activities, but lose sight of the ultimate need to generate sales and satisfy customers profitably.

Recent reports by the CMO Council in North America suggest that the position of Chief Marketing Officer is becoming a high risk position in business with many CMOs lasting two years or less in the job. This high turnover of senior marketing staff is not only bad for the individuals concerned, but bad for businesses, as it encourages rapid change and short term thinking. When companies seek long term sustainable revenue, frequent changes of CMO do not help.

The CMO cannot be successful in the overall objective of maximizing profitable sustainable revenue, without knowledge of the market, customer demand and competition. However, the CMO must also have the skill to successfully manage and direct the imagination, creativity, action and motivation of the marketing staff to anticipate and satisfy customer demand profitably. Ultimately, the only way to know whether the marketing function is efficient and effective, and whether the CMO has achieved the objectives, is to measure the results.

© N.C.Watkis, Contract Marketing Service 27 Nov 07
Contract Marketing Service, (Specialists in Measuring Marketing Performance and Return on Marketing Investment.)

September 27, 2007   Posted in: marketing management

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