If you want to be heard, speak the language

In the present trading climate, getting and retaining business will continue to be difficult for the foreseeable future. Companies expect that sales income will probably be less than previous years, and that they will have to work harder to maximize their potential income. Demonstrating efficiency and effectiveness in obtaining that income will have increasing importance.

It has been said, that everyone in a business is involved in “marketing.” But if “marketing” is the process of producing profitable income by anticipating and satisfying customer demand, then clearly, not everyone in a business is directly involved in the process. Businesses exist to make money, but not all employees are directly responsible for producing income. People involved in finance, personnel and purchasing, provide the necessary resources for a business to operate, by providing money, people, and supplies. Business employees involved in development, production, sales and sales support, are directly involved in activities which “anticipate and satisfy customer demand profitably”, and are therefore involved in “marketing.” Where does this leave the professional marketer? Are professional marketers needed?

If “marketing” is as undervalued as marketers often claim, what should they do about it? The world does not owe marketers a living. Marketers must prove themselves and demonstrate how their profession is not only relevant to a business, but is an essential function for its development. Marketers often consider themselves experts at marketing communications, yet if they are so good at communications, why are they apparently misunderstood and “marketing” undervalued?

Marketers have to be clear about what they do and to quantify what they contribute to a business. It was said of the late Lord Weinstock, when he was chairman of GEC that he would telephone his senior managers daily to ask how much money they had made. The story may be apocryphal, but the principle is a good one for marketers, in that they should be able to demonstrate and quantify, their contribution to the production of profitable income.

The task of the chief marketing officer (CMO) is to produce and maximize sustainable profitable income, while minimizing the use of assets and investment. In reality, many marketers do not have overall responsibility for producing sustainable income, but are involved in what might collectively be called sales support or the specialist areas of E-marketing and internet selling. For marketers whose jobs do not have an easily quantified outcome, justifying and demonstrating their contribution is more problematic.

The only thing that the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) really wants to know is, how much profitable revenue has been produced and how much it cost to produce it?
Business reports and other communications must clearly show what marketers are contributing and how these actions directly or indirectly assist in the production of profitable income. For many marketers, communication actually is the problem. Examination of many marketing reports and articles leaves the impression that they are written by marketers for marketers, rather than for non marketers who need to read them in order to make informed management decisions. Marketing jargon and “Corporatese” which fill such articles and reports with fashionable words and meaningless phrases such as, “blue sky thinking”, “leveraging”, “alignments” and “stakeholders”, to name but a few, confuse and bore the reader. Thus potentially important documents are easily dismissed by readers as “so much irrelevant waffle”. This poor communication, devalues the contribution of the process of marketing and the work of professional marketers. What can marketers do about this?

Marketers have to be clear about what they do and contribute to the business. For that, they need to have clear job descriptions that define their responsibilities and provide for quantified outcomes. It should be remembered that “marketing” is not confined to advertising, promotions or public relations, but is a function of management to control assets and investments to produce profitable revenue, by anticipating and satisfying customer demand. As such, the value of “marketing” and the contribution of marketers must be measured by results.

The purpose of communication is to impart knowledge and understanding to its recipient. Marketers must communicate what they do, how they do it and with what results. To convey this, marketers need to present their results, in the language of finance for the benefit of the CEO, showing how much income was made and how much it cost to produce it. But every other form of communication needs to be given in plain English devoid of “corporatese,” “marketing speak,” and fashionable jargon, so that anyone is able to read or hear with complete understanding. By communicating in plain, intelligible English, marketers will gain credibility from their audience and be valued for their contribution and professionalism by their employers.

© N.C.Watkis, Contract Marketing Service 28 Jul 10
Contract Marketing Service, (Marketing Performance Consultants)

August 6, 2010   Posted in: marketing management

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