One of the biggest questions in marketing is ‘what is the role of marketing in the future of business?’ So as we start to wind down the Future of Marketing interview series, I am happy to be addressing that question here.
In case you are just catching up, previous interviews have discussed Social Employees, Digital Marketing, Personal Branding, Content Brands, Customer Brands, Creativity, Big Data, Customer Experience, Thought Leadership, the Future of Search, the Science of Marketing and many more…
Today’s interview is with Chris Herbert. Chris is the founder of Mi6 Agency. Mi6 Agency creates B2B social networks & communities that build reputations, generate results and make markets. He is also the founder of ProductCamp Toronto and the Hi-tech community Silicon Halton. He tweets under the handle @B2Bspecialist.
What is the greatest challenge in marketing?
The greatest challenge for any company (small or large) is integrating the discipline of marketing across the company. Whether a company is small (less than 10 employees) or large (thousands of employees) the organization can no longer view marketing as a siloed function. Every employee regardless of their role and department needs to think, act and be accountable for marketing the company. But, before they do, they need to understand what marketing is supposed to do. The meaning of marketing has been diluted since the day when Peter Drucker said:
Marketing is so basic that it is not just enough to have a strong sales department and to entrust marketing to it. Marketing is not only much broader than selling; it is not a specialized activity at all. It encompasses the entire business. It is the whole business seen from the point of view of its final result, that is from the customer’s point of view. Concern and responsibility for marketing must therefore permeate all areas of the enterprise.
Marketing is the responsibility of all employees because it’s purpose is to get and keep customers. It is that simple. Marketing is not a silo, it’s not a department and it’s definitely not supposed to be creating communications materials that buyers consider “fluff”! Marketing is not the group that provide sales reps with “leads” that they never follow up with because they’re “no good”. Marketing covers: Product, Promotion, Place and Pricing. It has and should always be the case. But for some reason sales has been separated from marketing (sales falls under direct promotion) and product management has been severed from marketing.
Another challenge, at the individual level, is the fact that some marketers have no interest and no skills in understanding the underlying technologies that drive interaction, engagement and conversions. This coupled with old age thinking about controlling “the message” and head in sand positions on the use of social media and networks to listen, learn and engage with customers is a very close second place! Today’s marketer must be technologically savvy, integrate marketing across the organization and be taking the company in to new spaces and directions of market and customer engagement. S/he needs to recognize that the brand is no longer only being defined by corporate positioning but is most likely being defined externally. By the way, this has always been the case especially in B2B. How often do you believe an advertisement without validating it with people you know, people you trust and people who are impartial?
What are some best practices/tips for overcoming that challenge?
Marketing must be integrated into the business and those who traditionally didn’t do “marketing stuff” must start doing so. Marketing leaders need to put in place programs that involve other groups who will contribute to the execution of marketing programs that focus on getting and keeping customers. They, ideally should involve those group leaders, in understanding what the needs of the group is and how marketing strategies and tactics can help them achieve their core goals.
From there core marketing and business development programs are developed with product managers, sales, customer support/service and operations that are more relevant, integrated and focused on the needs of the business and core groups that operate within them.
We use a framework that helps us stay on course when helping organizations adopt marketing across their organizations. That framework includes:
- Branding and Offer Development
- Content, Communications & Community Development
- Promotion and Business Development
- Platforms, Systems & Tools
What is your prediction for the future of marketing?
The future of marketing is bright as long as the organization focuses on integrating it across the business so the day to day marketing activities are shared (and deemed important) by all groups. This will require organizations to collaborate and work together to make it possible for marketing to span across all groups and the day-to-day activities of key members within them.