I still encounter those who see marketing as at best a necessary evil and at worst a practice of smoke and mirrors with no substance.
This unwarranted prejudice is borne out of a lack of understanding of the core principles of marketing. Sceptics who poke sticks at marketers often suggest that the acquiring of customers is not difficult. Winning new business is not connected to marketing activity. They believe that by producing a quality product or service customers will return and promote to others. That method of gaining customers can often be effective but the marketing element should already be interwoven with production and customer experience and not simply be seen as a blunt instrument of advertising or PR before or after the fact. Ironically sceptics often employ marketing techniques, unaware of their natural ability to develop the business. MD’s don’t always connect their activity to marketing which they see as a separate collection of basic promotional actions.
If you were to survey 100 non marketers and ask them for a definition of marketing the chances are over 50% would reference advertising within their response. The truth is marketing, certainly for me is “The Business of Business” a little more than creating and placing an advert. To be an effective marketer you must understand all you can about your customers, the financial model that produces the product, where the margins kick in, the mechanisms involved in delivering the product and the experience of customers once purchased. The entire scope of the company, its infrastructure, inner workings and technical elements must be understood to contextualise a successful approach to develop the brand and thereby grow the business.
All too often when recruiting or appointing a marketing resource business owners go into the process with a narrow pre-determined idea of what the person will add to the mix. They focus on PR or advertising. They might also worry about the need for a better online presence rather than consider an opportunity to involve the marketer in helping with business planning and setting a strategy.
Typical Marketing Professionals Skill Set
An added challenge for many is the “hobby” marketer boss who believes they can play “the marketing game”. We all consume so many marketing messages each day it’s not surprising that a boss or client might suggest they have the answer to a new advertising campaign, website or sponsorship deal. Don’t for one minute think I’m against business owners or bosses getting engaged with the marketing activity. I’ve spent far too long in my career trying to encourage such interest to fight it; but it can be difficult for junior, less experienced marketers to put a counter view forward when the ultimate decision maker insists on having their way.
Where experienced and effective marketers set themselves apart is in their ability to distinguish “good ideas” from the ego driven project. They need an ability to swiftly reflect and analyse any newly presented opportunity, establish the potential impact and make recommendations in plain jargon free English. That particular skill can save organisations a large chunk of their marketing budget.
A very good example of the scale of the challenge for today’s marketer is their need to stay on top of the terabytes of information related to digital marketing. Without necessarily being an expert the modern marketer must understand the principles of SEO, (search engine optimisation) PPC (pay per click advertising) Social Media, Mobile Technologies, Online Advertising and CRM (Customer Relationship Management). Interpreting Google Analytics and having the confidence to reject or accept digital agency proposals are also essential attributes of those holding the responsibility for marketing in any organisation.
Yes it’s complicated out there but life is these days. We can either keep up or give in and outsource management to the wave upon wave of niche agency suppliers promising to deliver success. Without the confidence borne out of our own knowledge of specific marketing processes we’re left with fingers crossed just hoping that the agency knows what they’re doing with their sizeable budget. Personally I don’t see it as an option. We owe it to ourselves, clients and employers to provide the very best level of expertise and professionalism and demonstrate that more than ever we have the knowledge and the spark to drive businesses forward.
Far from being a dirty word marketing is the discipline that business owners need to embrace wholeheartedly. They need to seek out the very best qualified practitioners to work with, provide resource and trust them to deliver. David Laud – FCIM Chartered Marketer, consultant.