Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
February 10, 2009 7:17 AM

The Success Of Marketing

"Unlike accounting or the law, marketing is not a profession. Anyone can call himself or herself a marketer. The absence of entry barriers allows for greater creativity, imagination and new ideas. But the flip side is that manipulation and deception of consumers by irresponsible marketers is all too common. Absent professional exams and codes of conduct, abusers of the marketing toolkit are subject only to the sanctions of the marketplace and the law. The vast majority of marketers are honest and respect their customers but, collectively, they need to work harder to expose and shut down the charlatans."

A very interesting and insightful article from Harvard Business Review titled, How Marketing Succeeded (But Still Fails To Impress),by John Quelch looks at how and why Marketing works, and how and why it still struggles to gain credibility and acceptance - within industry and from the everyday consumer.

Marketers do a terrible job of marketing "marketing" - both as a channel to communicate messages and as a great industry for a young person to get involved in and consider as a vocation.

"Even with these advances, marketers still do a surprisingly poor job of marketing Marketing. They do not appreciate, let alone articulate, the economic and social benefits of marketing. Marketplace exchanges are based on mutual trust between buyers and sellers. They create value for both parties. The billions of successful daily marketplace transactions are an important part of the glue that holds our society together. Good marketers offer consumers choices. Choice stimulates consumption and economic growth and facilitates personal expression. Good marketers provide consumers with information about new products and services, thereby accelerating their adoption. All these benefits are routinely overlooked as the 17 million Americans engaged in marketing, selling and customer service routinely try to fly under the radar of social critics and go about their daily work contributing brilliantly but often unknowingly to our quality of life."

The idea of marketing is one that has polarizing effects on people. Those engaged in the profession have a deep passion for both the creative and scientific processes that take place in developing, executing and optimizing brands, products, services and messages, and then there's the group of people of people who wished they never saw another ad again - not really understanding that advertising is only one (albeit large) facet of marketing overall.

Do Marketers need to do a better job of marketing "marketing"? What do you think?

By Mitch Joel


Comments Comments Feed
  • Posted by Blog Marketing
    Mitch Joel

    I agree , marketing has no barriers but it is not a no frills profession, it is a tough place to be in keeping in mind the terrific job they do , remember they are the people that work behind the scenes to market what you have for your audience.

    Reply
  • Posted by Kneale Mann
    Mitch Joel

    Long before marketers begin to market or market their marketing, they need to insure a product or service or idea is ready to be marketed.

    The most brilliant of marketing experts can only put so much lipstick on the proverbial pig. To often the bottom line causes impatience and ready-shoot-aim tactics which result in nothing more than a waste of time.

    The best marketing campaigns resonate with customers and aren't deemed as "marketing".

    The best marketing professionals are viewed as essential to a company’s success rather than an unnecessary expense.

    Reply
  • Part of this stems from a lack of understanding about what marketing is and what it does. To me, marketing is the creation of demand for an idea. Think of all the ideas that need demand but don't have it:

    1. Darfur
    2. Poverty
    3. Malaria

    Think of all the things that have gotten great marketing and flourished:

    1. Obama
    2. Google
    3. iPhone

    Marketing is demand generation, plain and simple. Most marketers who fail think their job is somehow about communication or interruption or anything other than creating demand for an idea.

    Once you create demand, sales fulfills it.

    Marketing + sales = win.

    Reply
  • Posted by blork
    Mitch Joel

    Another mistake that I frequently see (and have some experience with) happens higher up the food chain; when top execs group Marketing and Public Relations (PR) together.

    These are very different activities! Fundamentally, PR is all about protecting the company and its image. This has very little to do with creating demand for products.

    When PR-minded people run marketing efforts you get things like blogs that don't allow comments (because then they can't fully "control the message"), and a reluctance to engage in viral campaigns because of (again) the fear of a loss of control of the message.

    That's not to say these two entities shouldn't be aware of each others' activities. The must be. But one shouldn't dominate the other. Nothing kills a marketing campaign faster than letting the PR whacks (or their bedfellows, the lawyers) mess take a kick at it.

    Yet how often do you see a single person as VP of PR and Marketing. Way too frequently!

    Reply
  • Posted by seosoeasy
    Mitch Joel

    The business goals and objectives are the first step in legal marketing program.So Nothing happens until we put our attorney marketing plan into action . It is good to develop a marketing calendar at the beginning of each year for use as a monthly guide to help in achieving our marketing goals.Thanks.

    Reply
  • Posted by Ali Rahman
    Mitch Joel

    I wish there was a marketing equivalent to the MDRT, setting standards, best-practices and ethical goals. Mitch! Start one!

    Reply
  • Posted by Ben Rodier
    Mitch Joel

    Marketing, like every discipline in a competitive economy is subject to the market's reward or punishement. Those marketers, lawyers or even doctors who do not in some way improve society or create shareholder value will be punished in the real world.

    Also - flashy internet display ads and repetitive TV commercials is not marketing. Advertising communications is evolving, but not fast enough for the critics I guess!

    Reply
  • Posted by Mario Parise
    Mitch Joel

    Marketing does need a better image. I think we do a good job of marketing it to ourselves (what with all the blogs that, unfortunately, only marketers would read). But we do a piss poor job of selling it outside of our community.

    One good example of this is that almost every time I try to tell people what I do, they're confused. They just don't understand what it means, much less that there's something called digital marketing.

    I don't believe we need a governing body though. Lawyers have a governing body, and they still have one of the worst public images around. Same with accountants.

    Reply
  • Posted by burgeonverger
    Mitch Joel

    Try this on:

    A good marketer has to be willing to wrestle his/her own ego to the ground in order to find an authentic insight to which others can relate the brand.

    Otherwise he/she is just telling a lie about a lie.

    There is a book called The Three Marketeers, by Alex Demain, in which the hero does just that. It's fiction.

    Are you going to Google that book?

    Reply
  • Posted by Tim Dempsey
    Mitch Joel

    Nice and provocative post -- especially for a reformed philosophy major, one-time systems programmer, erstwhile CMO and marketing advisor whose son is a marketing major.

    What I cherish about marketing is that at its core it is about ideas, yes, but those ideas have to be expressed -- in words. Great marketing requires great writing, even if the deliverable is ultimately in some other medium.

    Great post and thanks!

    Reply
  • Posted by Barry Welford
    Mitch Joel

    This is an excellent topic and reflects current realities.

    The problem is that the word marketing is used in two senses. In the old traditional product-driven companies, marketing is another department that is there to help push product out to customers. That kind of marketing has generated a somewhat questionable aura giiven the manipulation that some people feel is inherent. This type of marketing is very much an operational matter.

    The other type of marketing is linked to the more modern companies that attempt to be customer centric. Here marketing is synonymous with the strategy setting for the company. The right marketing niche must be selected and products and services developed that have a competitive advantage for their intended prospects and customers. Unfortunately this type of marketing tends to be the exception rather than the rule. If not, marketing might well have a much better reputation.

    Reply
  • Posted by Ryan Van Hoozer
    Mitch Joel

    One problem with the lack of understanding and respect of marketing is the absence of concreteness. Marketing is not a profession easily defined or measured. So much of marketing is fluid and intangible that people often have a misconception about what marketing really IS, including many marketers themselves. The lack of quality metrics makes marketing difficult for management to perceive as well. Marketers would do well to elevate the conversation beyond advertising strategy and placement and talk more about the many different facets and goals of marketing, and establishing how these efforts can be measured and analyzed.

    Reply
  • Posted by Leslie Quinton
    Mitch Joel

    I was with you, Blork, on the necessity for understanding PR and marketing to be two separate but complementary domains (my paraphrasing) but then you lost me when you said PR is just about protecting a company's reputation (not the sole purpose, but indeed, a key one) and then, that PR and lawyers are "bedfellows".

    It is a rule of thumb in PR, all the former lawyers who are now in PR aside, that lawyers and PR people are often at odds with one another namely because their objectives are very different and consequently, their way of communicating. Lawyers will say "Don't say anything" since it can be taken as an admission of guilt, whereas a PR professional will say "Admit you did wrong/caused an accident/had a crisis but do so in a way that is sensitive to the perspective of your audience and that leads to moving past this issue". That's only one example - I can think of many more.

    Frankly, in my own professional experience and as someone who has worked in PR and in marketing, I would rather those two be grouped together, than the PR and legal departments - shudder!

    In both cases, PR and marketing, we do need to tell our own stories better, as this has made clear, since the misconceptions continue unabated.

    Reply
  • Posted by blork
    Mitch Joel

    Thanks for the perspective, Leslie Q. I suppose it's different for each company. I still have a bit of a chip on my shoulder from having worked (in marketing) in an environment that was highly influenced by what I saw as the "PR fear," which itself was influenced by the "legal fear."

    As I step back, I can certainly see how PR and Marketing should work together. If I had my "druthers" though, I'd prefer to see PR as a marketing activity, rather than marketing as a PR activity. That means that PR can advise the marketing people, but can't dictate to them.

    As for the lawyers, well... let's not even go there! ;-)

    Reply
  • Posted by Tim
    Mitch Joel

    Great article. I ended up working in a marketing dept on accident and love the creative freedom. Not that we get much, but when we do it's great. Honest marketing is awesome. It seems very difficult at times. Although it seems that upper management looks at the world through different glasses, marketing helps people find what they need or want. That helps everyone.

    Reply
  • Posted by Patrick Byers
    Mitch Joel

    Interesting post and great interaction here.

    Until marketers can start behaving responsibly by doing marketing right and doing the right thing, as a profession, we'll never be trusted.

    I spoke a bit about this in "Why you can't trust anyone in marketing," here: http://responsiblemarketing.com/blog/?p=791.

    Reply
  • Posted by ariosto
    Mitch Joel

    Good post, very informative indeed. I agree with Patrick's comment about the interaction here, i guess everyone here's very good at this marketing stuff. Well i am just starting out, so if anyone's free please check out my blog. I would appreciate your opinions. thanks

    Reply
  • Posted by Karen
    Karen

    As a professional accountant (with a passion for all things business which includes marketing), I found this to be a very interesting post. First, I would like to say that many people do call themselves accountants without having a professional designation. Fortunately, most business people understand that those people are not accountants; they are bookkeepers.

    I think that many people still equate marketing with "trying to sell me something I don't need" rather than recognizing that it is a profession.

    Reply
  • Posted by Erin Thomson
    Mitch Joel

    It seems to me that marketing today has really taken on a whole new shape and form in comparison to years past. Its about delivering valuable experiences to consumers as opposed to bombarding them on a mass scale using gimmicks, tricks and persuasion. Consumers know what they want and they are armed with a wealth of information which allows them to make optimal choices. Marketing can be an integral part of this evaluation process and end-product delivery, as opposed to just communicating even more information "noise". Indeed, we are moving in this direction. However, it will take time to shift the majority perception to realise that marketing, just like virtually any other industry today, must provide value-added experiences or else perish (or at the very least, stagnate). Instead of worrying about how to best facilitate getting this message to the public, we need to have more marketers who are just as passionate, sincere and eloquent about the subject as Mitch Joel is. This sincerity will come through loud and clear in due time.

    Reply
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