Some quarters of the marketing profession have been suffering for quite a while. They’ve been suffering from a poor image which many practitioners have allowed to happen, either through a lack of confidence or ability in their own skills or due to restrictions placed on their roles by their paymasters which stifle curiosity and endeavour, in other words…a lack of positive change.
In a recent article in Marketing Week (Sept 18), former CMO and author of ‘The 12 Powers of a Marketing Leader’ Thomas Barta stated, ‘If marketing were a brand, you would fire the CMO’. This is because in many firms up and down the land, a lack of understanding from business owners (and indeed many marketers) marketing is often grossly misunderstood. Consequently, owners discharge marketing to those who are only able or willing to manage communications. You’ll note I say ‘communications’ and not ‘campaigns’ because they’re usually: rarely measured, very disjointed and only ever developed from an instinct – but that’s not what ‘marketing’ is. When these aspects are combined, they can only ever represent a cost to a firm, not profit or value, and when marketers are seen in this way, they are seen as wasteful and when times are hard, they are seen as being surplus to requirements.
Let’s just think about that for a moment. When times are hard, marketers are released from employment? Yet this shouldn’t be the case should it? When times are hard marketers should be safer in their roles than at any other time…but only if they can prove their worth and that requires forethought, discipline and an exceptionally strong understanding of both the needs of the company and its customers – in other words a professional ‘can do’ attitude towards business growth.
The beauty of a professional marketer’s role IS that we operate in an area where we CAN deliver a return on investment and demonstrate our value to the company. But many marketers see this as pressure, rather than seeing it as an opportunity to direct and lead. Don’t get me wrong, of course ‘marketing’ needs communicators but at the upper levels in SME firms it’s the direction that’s essential and that’s usually not what I see being delivered.
For those firms that are serious about growth they must invest in ascertaining their value proposition to their consumers (the thing that monetises products and drives profit), because in a world where too many firms compete on price and drive revenue and brand equity down there is no other option.
Nigel Davis was voted ‘One of Britain’s Top 50 Small Business Advisors & is an MCIM Chartered Marketer and Business Growth Consultant