MARKETING in 2008 – a personal view

When asked to write about the marketing concerns during the past year, I considered that a review of the various topics in the “marketing press” would give a good indication of the main interests of Marketers in 2008.
If the “marketing press” is a true reflection, it is apparent that for the majority of marketers the subject of brand is and has been all important, particularly relating to market share, brand image, and the “added value” of the brand. Now while brands have an importance, for most people involved in marketing this is not the case. Roughly eighty per cent of business is run by small companies, where market share and image in relation to “Brand” have limited importance, but where the image and reputation of the company are vital. For these businesses, success is measured in revenue, not in brand image or market share. Someone said that “Brands are for cattle”, and while brands have an importance in product recognition and reputation, brands do not of themselves generate revenue. The importance of brand image is probably more limited than many marketers would like to admit, as the continuing rise in the success of own label products, indicates that concentrating on the “image of the brand” is not enough when it comes to producing actual sustainable and profitable sales revenue.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and all its attendant software continued to remain a prime interest for marketers during the past year. Concerns still remain on whether investment in CRM is cost effective, with some businesses claiming disappointing results while others indicate its growing importance and usefulness in their respective businesses. What is apparent, is that the CRM market is awash with competing products with little obvious differentiation. This makes it difficult for the marketer to make informed decisions about selecting a suitable product in which to make potentially large investments in time and money. Disappointments in CRM program performance, often stems from an initial requirement which was unsuitable or ill thought out , expectations that were unreasonable, and the selection of unsuitable CRM products. Marketers still need to quantify and evaluate their CRM requirement if they are to select the right product and get the best out of a CRM package which may be particularly useful in specific consumer related industries.
Websites are of growing importance to business in general, as is shown by the increase of 16% in online sales in Britain over the past year, together with a corresponding rise of the online advertising market. Online advertising now has a larger percentage share of the media advertising market than national press advertising. Marketers will need to fully understand the dynamics of online advertising and business if they are to maximize its contribution to developing future sales revenue.
The importance of marketing has again appeared in the press as an area of concern and interest to marketers. At the beginning of the year, the CIM continued on its quest to define or redefine marketing. While this subject may or may not be of particular importance to professional marketers, not least members of the CIM, it is generally obvious that in non marketing quarters the subject is of little relevance. However, the image that marketers and members of the CIM give of themselves about trying to redefine what they actually do, by seeking to redefine the CIM’s generally accepted definition of marketing, suggests that if marketers cannot define what they do, they can hardly be expected to be taken either seriously or to express the importance that marketing has for every business. If marketers cannot be clear about what they do and quantify their contribution to the business, they will be regarded as an irrelevance by the commercial world. Navel gazing by marketers about marketing is bad for the profession and its image in general.
Continual Professional Development (CPD) is an area that has been highlighted several times during the year, to show its growing importance. In reality, there is nothing new in marketing. Old knowledge gets forgotten as new markets and trends arrive, but it is then re-discovered in a new guise. Marketers need to reappraise old knowledge, which may be new to them, but which is suitable for different times and conditions. However, the one area where there is always new knowledge is that of legislation. Marketers, especially those involved with consumers must ensure that they are up to date with all the legislation which impinges on their work or their markets. Ignorance of the law is no excuse, but while the law may constrict marketer’s activities, it can also provide new opportunities and new markets.
Despite all the warning signs which have been around for those who wanted to see them for at least twelve months, the words credit squeeze and recession do not seem to have featured much in the marketing press, and therefore perhaps not in the minds of many marketers. The sudden down turn in business has taken many companies by surprise. How many marketers have prepared a “plan B” in their marketing plans for just such a change of conditions? No doubt many will be looking to get more out of their marketing budgets with reduced resources, while many others may be looking for new jobs.
The end of 2008 and the beginning of 2009 will mark “interesting times” for all marketers. Marketers are responsible for finding, securing and maintaining the income on which their businesses depend. If those businesses are to survive the recession, marketers will have to concentrate more on achieving in revenue targets, than on debating the merits of brand image or professional status. By achieving the revenue to sustain their businesses, marketers will demonstrate their importance to business success and increase the status of their profession.

© N.C.Watkis, Contract Marketing Service 11 Nov 08
Contract Marketing Service, (Marketing Performance Measurement Consultants)

December 1, 2008   Posted in: marketing management

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