This saying always amuses me. Partly because it’s true, partly because it’s funny, but also because it’s often misunderstood. It’s funny because it sounds like marketers are too stupid to be in charge of marketing. And, as a marketer, I love laughing at myself and those who do what I do. But my take on what it really means is that marketing is so important that it should be an integral part of the fabric of a company’s mindset, culture and strategy.
Here’s the problem: Marketing is increasingly viewed as a separate entity, an outsider to what the company’s business is all about, when in fact, it is inseparable. One cannot exist without the other.
The result of this thinking is that management has by and large decided on a limited number of profit models and sales approaches. Marketing’s separation also facilitates the rise of technologically driven product and service development as opposed to customer-focused, research driven development.
When this happens, marketing starts believing that automated marketing can be a genuine substitute or as effective as “real” marketing. Ever notice how often new products are created based on what is technically possible rather than by addressing what customers actually need or want? So, what you get is an over-engineered, low-value deliverable that marketers then have to convince you that you need. And this leads to even greater distortion in the marketplace because competition then becomes based on image rather than substance, on choices rather than differentiation.
What’s the worst part of separating marketing out from the core of the business? It’s that marketing activities, as a result, become “market driven,” rather than driving the market—i.e., focusing on continually creating new customers.
We have to ask ourselves, “Why are we in business?” Management and marketing exist together for one purpose: to create and retain customers. To be successful, the two must work in synch to discover latent and potential needs, to track and anticipate value, and to convert this knowledge and understanding into effective demand.
How can the two start working together effectively? I would encourage management to do the following:
- Start thinking of marketing as a management function.
- Focus on driving the market instead of being driven by it.
- Shift away from being overly technology-heavy and toward customer-centric programs.
- Recognize marketing as a long-term activity not just a cost.
- Integrate your marketing efforts and your team.