There’s been a healthy discussion on one of the forums I frequent about the function of marketing departments, particularly in large companies. A number of contributors bear the battle scars of trying to work effectively in PLCs with competing priorities. One of the biggest gripes is that in too many businesses, marketing is considered to be a secondary, Cinderella function where it is hard to quantify – and thus value – the contribution made to a company’s bottom line.
In my opinion, marketing departments are not necessarily undervalued or overlooked, but rather the rest of the company might not be quite sure what they’re up to, and that can lead to misunderstandings. This can principally blamed on the different meanings that people ascribe to the word “marketing.” There is brand marketing, article marketing, blog marketing, retail marketing, business-to-business marketing, and all the rest that could fill up a card for buzzword bingo. What the finance director thinks of as marketing might be very different from the product development team or the sales department, leaving the people who actually carry out the marketing function kicked from pillar to post.
Whether it was laziness or because that department had the most interesting and engaging lecturers, I took most of the marketing options available during my degree. Along with principles of marketing, there was also consumer behavioural psychology, marketing management, market research, marketing communications, and possibly some others that I have forgotten. If I had been more varied in my module choices, I’d be halfway to being a chartered accountant by now! Instead, my understanding of business has been affected by the pervasiveness of marketing and the critical role it plays in the success or failure of a business. Everything a company does can relate to marketing in one form or another, and it makes no sense to try and contain it within its own bubble.
The marketing textbooks will tell you that at its most basic, marketing is comprised of the four Ps: product, price, place and promotion. Together, I was taught, they comprise the “marketing mix” for a business or service. This is all very well for previous models of doing business, but how does this relate to blogs, social media sites or entertainment portals? While there doesn’t necessarily need to be a wholesale trashing of former principles and the creation of a new paradigm, the internet has changed some of the rules of the game. If anything, marketing is more important that ever.
[Image by Mark Heard]