In Pursuit of Management Innovation in Marketing

Retro TV CommercialNote from Art: my view to marketing comes from 2+ decades in B2B technology firms large and small, foreign and domestic, as well as 4-years working with small to mid sized manufacturing and service businesses. While your own environment may be different than the one I still see in these firms, I‘ll wager lunch that there are more similarities than differences.

The practice of management has evolved at a snail’s pace over the past 50 years, and one of the core tools of management and a key issue for any organization, marketing, has lagged just slightly behind.

While the tools and technologies available to plan and promote are truly remarkable and changing daily, the treatment of the marketing function and the marketing processes remains in many organizations mired somewhere in a time when Darrin Stephens and Larry Tate were pitching advertising campaigns on Bewitched. (If you’re not familiar with this classic prime-time 60’s and 70’s show, a more current example of that era is Mad Men.)

9 Common Management Mistakes with Marketing:

1. Marketing is late to the game. Formalizing the marketing function and roles in start-ups often occurs once people recognize a problem with a the either engineering or sales-driven approaches that seem right one day and overwhelmingly wrong the next.

2. CEOs and top executives don’t know what to expect from marketing. Their view stops at the necessary but not the only marketing tasks of promotion (generating leads), managing events, creating sales tools and managing the web site and perhaps press releases. The executive view of Marketing is stuck in an “old rules” world.

3. No one knows how to measure marketing’s effectiveness, so the metrics are mostly created by marketers.  This is much like a sales rep defining her own comp package and quota. The numbers will be very, very good, relatively speaking.  They may not reflect anything to do with reality, but they will be good.

4. Marketing efforts are much more like World War II B52 Carpet Bombing than they are precision targeting.  Too many marketers fail to understand buyer personas and the results resemble flailing with the outcomes failing.

5. Some marketers have a warped view of their role..sometimes bordering on elitist. Yes, marketing is important. In particular the firm’s responsibility for MARKETING (all caps) in supporting Drucker’s purpose of an enterprise: “To acquire and keep customers,” is huge. However, this is not owned by a function. MARKETING is an enterprise function, not a siloed issue carried out by the chosen few.

6. The marketing systems are discrete and separate from the enterprise system. The most obvious example is the lack of connectivity in most firms between the lead pipeline (and refinery) and the sales pipeline. I rarely find firms that connect the two. This would be like trying to produce gasoline from crude oil, without having any idea what your source and supply of crude was at any point in time.

7. The role of strategic marketing is often absent. While I don’t want to add more fuel to any “marketing is more important than…” arguments, there most definitely must be someone somewhere looking out for core issues of market strategy, voice of customer translation, competitor monitoring, strategies for achieving meaningful differentiation and so forth.  The failure for anyone to clearly own these creates a great deal of strategic and operational drift in organizations.

8. Marketing is often run at the top by someone that came up through the pure marketing ranks…or, it is subservient to a sales professional. Both are wrong.

9. The deployment of product management often creates a separate, disconnected marketing role.

7 Suggestions for Strengthening Marketing In Your Firm:

1. Top management must broaden the view on the role of marketing and increase expectations and accountability.  It’s much, much more than leads, tweets and shows.

2. Cultivate marketing talent carefully. It’s critical to have functional experts…relentless promoters, great communications and event management specialists, and it’s critical to have broad-thinkers and experienced business people guiding and leading them.  Promoting from within is fine, but make certain that yesterday’s marcom superstars receive broad exposure to the firm through job rotation, mentoring and management development training before placing them in positions of marketing leadership.

3. Know thy personas! If the people driving promotions and visibility aren’t remarkably familiar with the hopes, dreams, problems, desires, issues and lives of the targeted customers, then money will be wasted.

4. Challenge sales and marketing to connect core systems and measures. Both roles and functions own the business pipeline at different stages. Make certain that systems, measures and accountabilities are clear and in some cases, shared.

5. Don’t relegate strategic marketing activities (as I described earlier) to committees or worse yet, to that growing list of “nice to get to when we have time.” Someone with strong business experience and presence outside of a functional silo must watch and act and engage in the core issues of strategic marketing.

6. Be careful with the implementation of product management. This powerful and critical role is easily and often misplaced and misdirected, creating islands or pockets of marketing expertise disconnected from the marketing system.

7. Don’t become enamored with the new tools. They are tools, not silver bullets. On the other hand, don’t ignore them either.  They merit extensive experimentation.

The Bottom-Line for Now:

I love everything about serving well understood customers, creating meaningful differentiation, building value and visibility for my firms and frankly, I love crushing competitors or at least rendering them irrelevant. An effective, talented and broad thinking group of business professionals effectively wielding the tools of marketing will make this good work happen a lot faster and a great deal more effectively than most traditional deployments of marketing.

Is it time for an organization-wide marketing tune-up?

Comments

  1. Some great advice here. I think as the market changes with things like social media expanding and becoming more widely used- the industry as a whole will change.

  2. Thomas W Cornell says:

    I am curious is there is any relationship between the consolodation of corporations worldwide and a consequent loss of genuine entreprenuership. Such would be the argument of Ludwig Von Mises is in defence of free market capitalism.

    • Art Petty says:

      Thanks, Gina. I agree. Thomas, I may have to study and think before I answer your question. Provocative. -Art

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