Marketing isn’t war, its management

There have been a number of books in recent years suggesting that successful business is like warfare, e.g. Mark McNeilly’s “Sun Tzu and the Art of Business,” and likening business leaders to successful generals. But while both business and warfare require leadership, the type of leadership required is very different. Leadership in battle takes place in extreme conditions, but leadership in business and commerce is not a life or death struggle.

However, successful businesses and successful military campaigns do have two things in common. Both require their leadership to select and maintain an aim. They also require the maintenance of morale amongst those who are to achieve the aim. Leadership provides the inspiration and direction but management provides the means of attainment.

While some think “marketing” is another name for promotion and communication,
The Chartered Institute of Marketing defines the word as “The management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably”. It makes it quite clear that while the purpose of marketing is to produce profitable income, by satisfying customers, the nature of marketing is one of management. Thus successful marketing is about the efficient and effective management of investment and resources to produce profitable income by anticipating and satisfying customer demand.

So how should marketers go about managing their assets and investments to produce profitable income? Peter Drucker said that “if you can’t measure it you can’t manage it.” While this statement may perhaps be simplistic; for those whose responsibility is producing income, then the demonstration of effective management will require quantifiable measurements of “inputs” and “outputs”. In other words, effective marketing requires the measurement of those activities which directly or indirectly produce income, together with the amount of income produced

In small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), those responsible for producing the income may have very few staff, other than those employed in selling and sales administration. However marketers may be termed, whether sales manager, sales and marketing manager, or marketing manager, they may often have sole responsibility, with minimal assistance, for all the specialist areas of marketing, such as research, communications and customer relations. Marketers in small companies are usually fully occupied having to be involved in all the activities which assist directly and indirectly with producing income. Thus because few people are involved in marketing in SMEs, marketing can be more effectively controlled.

In larger businesses, where there are specialist marketing staffs, management becomes more of a problem. While marketing is about the effective management of assets and investment to produce profitable income, it also requires the effective management and motivation of people. Since Marketing has always attracted creative people, who generally do not like to be constrained by quantified objectives or performance measurement, their effective management can be difficult.

Until the advent of the desk top computer, virtually all businesses were managed through manual data systems and processes. To produce a sales forecast could take days of work, marketing and business plans could take weeks or months to prepare, and be obsolescent by the time they were complete. However, the developments in computer based automation have revolutionized business operations especially in marketing organizations. Those activities that previously took days or weeks to prepare are now done in hours or minutes. Where does that leave the marketing specialist? For the executive responsible for managing marketing resources the question must be, what do the people involved in the marketing department do that contributes to producing sustainable profitable income for the long term? How are they employed? Is their time used efficiently and effectively? Because so many activities are automated, are they fully occupied? What do they do all day? How do we know?

One thing that the executive responsible for managing the marketing staff should do is to establish exactly the detail of each employee’s job. This can be done by getting them to write their own job descriptions, detailing all the activities for which they believe they have responsibility, and which they actually carry out. Making a comparison of their own job descriptions with their official descriptions can make interesting reading, as it will highlight job overlaps, mistaken authority, and gaps in performance and responsibilities. By ensuring that all staffs have clear job descriptions and objectives to achieve, managers have better control over all their resources.

Although marketing specialisms cannot easily be quantified in their direct contribution to income production, marketing managers must demonstrate the efficiency and effectiveness of their specialist staffs with quantified performance data. Both marketers and marketing organizations must justify their existence as well as their use of assets and investment. Those that fail to demonstrate their contribution and efficiency are likely to find that they are surplus to requirements.

Analysis of what is done by marketers and how they do it may invite radical change. While technological change has produced innovative ways to communicate with potential and existing customers, as well as produce market research, marketers must expect that similar changes to working methods and organization are inevitable. Regardless of whether a company is large or small, their aim is to produce money, not just for shareholders but to benefit employees and invest for the long term future.

If “marketing” is really about managing resources to produce profitable income, then the executives responsible need to become effective managers. Effective marketing management requires quantifiable performance measurement, with the ability to motivate specialist staffs to efficiently contribute to producing profitable income, for the future of the business.

© N.C.Watkis, Contract marketing Service 28 Feb 11

March 15, 2011   Posted in: marketing management

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