Is Marketing the Problem?

When asked, most small and medium sized companies will say that they are anxious to improve their marketing. If asked to explain further, most businesses will say what they really require are more leads and more sales. Occasionally some businesses will say that they seek more cost effective advertising. This indicates for that for the smaller business, marketing is simply another name for sales and advertising.

It is also clear that in small and medium sized businesses, marketing involves all the activities that get and retain business, and are inextricably involved in obtaining the necessary revenue. Measuring marketing performance in small and medium sized businesses is relatively easy, because marketing is generally regarded as consisting of sales and advertising.

However in many large companies, marketing is increasingly seen in a different way.
Most American companies and many in Britain see sales and marketing as two separate parts of a business, which they reflect in the structure of their organizations.

The concept of marketing has developed considerably since the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) produced its definition of marketing as being “all those activities which anticipate customer demand profitably.” The CIM did much to promote the concept of marketing to the business world and the general public, so much so, that the term “marketing” is used by the general public as part of everyday speech.

This is a far cry from the 1970’s when the Institute of Marketing, as the CIM was then called, sought through its definition, to widen the recognition of the word in order to develop marketing as a separate professional business discipline. The efforts of the CIM were a great success and the word “marketing” has become increasingly recognised in both the business and wider world, although it is probably no better understood.

Marketing became fashionable in the 1980’s especially with all the publicity given to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and CIM’s very successful “Marketing Initiative” programme, for small and medium sized businesses.

As the marketing became fashionable so other terms such as sales and advertising fell out of fashion and were restyled as being “marketing.” As a result, the term marketing started to become debased and used so its meaning increasingly did not relate to the CIM’s 1976 definition.

Even the CIM’s own professional marketers are starting to talk about the “marketing” of products and services, when they are really referring to selling, advertising or promotion. Over time the word marketing has lost its precise meaning, so that now the CIM is considering changing its definition to meet the many and various interpretations of the word.

In any business, there are a number of activities which are there to anticipate and satisfy customer demand. The purpose of satisfying customer demand is to produce revenue from which the business makes the necessary profit for the benefit of its shareholders, its workforce, and the customers, who rely on the continuance of the business in order to satisfy their current and future needs.

There are many separate disciplines which are collectively used in the Marketing Function. These separate disciplines have their own descriptive names such as Advertising, Selling, promotion, public relations (PR), customer relationship management(CRM), Search Engine Optimization (SEO) marketing research, strategic business planning.

Professional marketers may be involved in all these disciplines. However, unless these disciplines are used collectively to produce revenue for the business, they should not be called “marketing,” although individually they are specialist marketing disciplines. Thus while specialist marketing disciplines are effectively used by non profit making organizations, especially for communication through advertising, PR, and customer relationships, they are not involved with the production of revenue.

Text books all over the world use the CIM’s 1976 definition of Marketing. To radically change it would probably do more harm than good to the image of the CIM and its members.

If people do not understand the definition of “marketing,” then they will not understand the value of professional marketers. If marketers insist on continually changing the meaning of words to describe the work they do, they will be rightly accused of seeking to create a false mystique, which will be harmful to their professional future.

There are a number of things that Marketers should do to improve their image and demonstrate their contribution to their respective businesses:

* Use plain English in describing their work and results; avoid acronyms, jargon, “business speak” and cliché.
* Confine the use of the word “marketing” to the context of the CIM 1976 definition.
* Specialists in CRM, advertising, PR, Search Engine Optimization or any of the specialist areas should use these specialist descriptive terms for what they do, rather than use the term “marketing.”
* Marketers must seek to measure their performance and contribution to their respective employers in quantifiable terms; qualitative analysis and justification carries little respect at boardroom level.

Like it or not, marketers must realize that Chief Executive Officers (CEO) believe that the generation of revenue is the responsibility of what they have come to understand as the “marketing” function. If marketers do not see that generating revenue is their prime responsibility, then CEOs will soon find others who may not be professional marketers, to do the job in their stead.

© N.C.Watkis, Contract Marketing Service 03 Jun 08
Contract Marketing Service, (Specialists in Marketing Performance Measurement)

June 3, 2008   Posted in: marketing management

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