Marketers like to talk to each other about the importance of marketing. We discuss branding and name recognition, channel marketing, social media tactics, market research techniques, etc. We work hard to keep up with the ever-exploding proliferation of buzz words. And along side these satisfying discussions and neologisms, we bemoan how misunderstood we are; how CFOs don’t appreciate what we do; how sales can’t grasp the importance of our messaging, and on and on.
But if marketing is so important (and I think it is), why aren’t we discussing the real-world consequences of our failures?
Oh, sure, marketers worry about the impact to their careers of failed programs. (Why don’t CMOs have longer tenures?, for example.) This is one reason, I think, that so many marketing people hurry to be in lock-step with the latest craze; if everyone is following a sexy trend and it fails to produce promised results, it’s hard to be blamed personally.
But marketing discussions rarely, if ever, confront the reality of lost potential revenues and market share when marketing efforts go awry. There is no discussion of the opportunity cost to the organization, for instance, of following the “common wisdom” when the “common wisdom” is wrong and scant resources and effort are thrown at things that are demonstrably not yielding results.
Lost revenues or stagnant market share are not abstract issues. They have direct consequences to the viability of the enterprise. And let’s make it even more concrete than that: If the enterprise falters, jobs are lost. And not just marketing jobs.
This lost income and these disappearing jobs are the collateral damage of poor marketing.
It is time for marketing to stop bemoaning its lack of authority and all the C Suite status it could wish for. It is time for it to step up to the plate and accept the responsibility that goes with the authority it wants.
If you truly believe that marketing is an important function for a company, then you have to think through what is real, what is practical, and what is achievable. Following the crowd is not enough. Marketing missteps can cause serious collateral damage – to your company, to your colleagues, and to the economy.