Saturday, December 13, 2008

A take on marketing

“[Marketing] is a strategic, complex function which defines performance and tactics for achieving the business plan - including product design, pricing decisions, integrated communications to all channels and through all media, and leading and managing distribution and sales strategies and performance.”
- Jacqueline Barnett

"Marketing is more than promotion activity. The function includes competitive positioning and priority setting of activities across the company to ensure the company meets the promise being set forth by the company to the market.”

There’s something missing from these oh-so-important sounding job descriptions: what’s the quantitative measure? Every other department in the modern corporation is measured quantitatively, with that measurement directly tied to their day-to-day activities. By contrast, all the activities that Barnett and Slocum list our are basically un-measurable and thus can’t be proven to be useful, useless or irrelevant. And I’m voting for useless.

For example, how do you measure “defining performance and tactics” - by the number of pages in the interoffice memo? And how do you measure Marketing’s contribution to “product design?” By the success of the final product? Even though the features that Marketing requested were impossible to implement? How do you measure the impact of “integrated communications”? And “priority setting of activities” and “ensuring the company meets the promise”? Unmeasurable fluff, all of it.

As I’ve repeatedly blogged, Marketing should be goaled and compensated on one thing: generating qualified leads. If generating qualified leads were the gold standard for measuring Marketing, the activities that Barnett and Slocum slapped onto their list would fall by the wayside, because that list is just a string of impressive-sounding biz-blab and buzzwords.

More importantly, comments from marketeers often reveal a profound disrespect for sales professionals. Check out this comment from Tony Wanless:

“Marketing has to figure out generally what the target customers’ biggest problems are, and sales has to go in and explain how the product or service will fix that problem and provide value to the customer. That means, of course, the sales people have to help prospects identify their individual problems. But too many sales people just go in and browbeat the prospect with the features of their “solution”, without ever listening to the customer in order to identify what the problem is.”

Hilariously, Wanless thinks that Marketing is going to figure out what customers really want, and then tell Sales. He’s got it exactly backwards. Marketing needs to go to Sales, find out what customers need, and then find prospects that match those needs. Most Marketing folk have absolutely no selling experience, so consequently their opinions on customer needs are consistently worthless.

Talking about selling with your typical marketer is like discussing intercourse with a celibate priest. The conversation tends to be embarrassing rather than enlightening.


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