Sunday, February 20, 2011

Marketing Is Not What Many Think It Is

I have spent the better part of 30 years involved in marketing. Whether products, services, political candidates the fact is all need marketing at some point. The sad thing I have seen over the years is the lack of understanding on what marketing really is (even more so with marketing leaders).

While creativity, the 5 P’s (packaging, price, placement, position, promotion) and other classical thoughts around marketing are at play the real fact is, marketing is a tactical weapon. You need to know first and foremost what you are aiming at, what the end goal/ results are that you want. After that what you are going to do to be ready once the results start to happen. This means understanding the level of impact the results will have and can the organization handle the growth. In addition what is the appropriate level of marketing and effort? Do you need a fly swatter or a tactical nuke?

I have seen so many businesses have major issues in delivery, in the make up of the staff, loss of focus and they turn to marketing and say “make us better, make us succeed!” When a good marketing leader starts to ask the tough questions, to peel back the onion and the ugliness comes bubbling to the forefront. The reaction by the leaders of the business should be we will fix these underlying issues first before we try and grow the business OR the wrong response – hey this has nothing to do with marketing, stay out of operations, or delivery, etc. just do something creative to grow the business.

Many times the underlying issues are never fully addressed and “creative marketing types” push ahead with new campaigns, new marketing spin. In the end the issues are still there and the success is only temporary and next everyone is looking at the “failed marketing efforts” saying – see we don’t need marketing, give these dollars to price discounts or bonuses to the operational people. Remember poop is poop no matter how you package it.

The fact is, a business needs to be healthy, needs to have solid business operations and be able to deliver what they say they are going to deliver. If not there is no marketing in the world is going to make the difference.

So the next time your hear someone start to say that they need marketing to help fix the problem or turn to marketing to figure out both the strategy and the tactics without the key business leaders in the mix – stop and ask yourself – what is wrong with the underlining business? Don’t move forward with any marketing initiatives without the full alignment of the whole leadership team of the business other wise you will only have temporary buy in and success. 

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