Re: Why Marketers Get No Respect

Re:  Why Marketers Get No Respect

Niraj Dawar recently posted an interesting blog called, “Why Marketers Get No Respect.”  In it, he makes some provocative statements and warns us to put on our “Kevlar vests.”

Interesting stuff, and worth thinking about.

For example, he says that “marketing isn’t delivering competitive advantage” and that “marketing’s strategic contribution has diminished.”  Indeed, he claims that marketing’s only contribution is in helping to create brand loyalty, “a disappearing commodity.”

Okay, let’s think about this.

First of all, since this is a fairly damning criticism, it would be nice to see any data to back up this claim.  Assertions are not proof.

Secondly, this assumes that messaging, market segmentation analysis, positioning, or corporate identity – all marketing functions and missions – have no role in creating a competitive advantage, a subject I’ve discussed elsewhere.  I suspect that that would be a difficult position to defend in the real world.

For example, “marketing isn’t demonstrating ROI.”

Okay, let’s think about this.

He’s right, of course, that it is next to impossible to show a dollar spent to a dollar earned ratio.

But let’s look at things from another angle.  When businesses are bought and sold, one element in the ultimate purchase price is “good will,” defined as “that part of business value over and above the value of identifiable business assets.”  It is, in other words, an intangible; and part of that intangible is a company’s image and position in the marketplace.  I would suggest that marketing has a serious role in creating that intangible asset.  I would further argue that it is difficult to have any image or position in the marketplace without marketing.

For example, “marketing is a cost center.”

Okay, let’s think about this.

Hmm.  Are finance and accounting profit centers?  Does the CFO get no respect?

But Dawar is right that marketing is not universally revered within companies.  The reason for this, however, is, at least in part, quite different from the ones he posits.

Marketing in general does an exceptionally poor job of communicating within the organization.  By and large, it makes no attempt to explain its strategies, initiatives, targets, and tactics to anyone beneath the C Suite.  There is very little outreach to employees in general.  And far too often, there is rivalry rather than collaboration with sales (both of which functions would benefit from closer collaboration).

Marketing’s job is – without doubt – to reach out to prospects and customers in ways that elicit response.  But if one-tenth of the effort was put into communicating with its internal colleagues – into creating an internal constituency – there would be a better understanding of what marketing does.  And with better understanding, comes appreciation – and respect.






3 thoughts on “Re: Why Marketers Get No Respect

  1. I agree a lot of marketers get little respect. Part of that is the internal communication issue you mention, the rest I believe derives from three factors.
    1. Few marketing people think strategically about the business. They think tactically about programs, but not enough about the company’s strategy. Marketing should be the business unit of a business — identifying the markets with the best potential and fit, the products and the strategies needed to be successful, and positioning the company to win vs. competition (evolving, sustainable differentiation). As the business unit, marketing needs to challenge the organization to do better and drive strategy implementation through engineering, sales, support, mfg, etc. Some people just do not grab this mantle.
    2. Marketing on the tactical side needs to define its programs in terms of branding and positioning, and the long-term value created from branding, and in terms of direct lead generation and support of the channels to bring in revenue. Few marketeers draw these distinctions and fewer explain them internally in their plans.
    3. Marketing needs to educate the organization on what marketing is. Because marketing interfaces with every part of the company, each part only sees the view of marketing it has from its own contacts. The blindfolded touching the elephant scenario. If engineering does not understand the demands placed on Marketing by sales, or sales of the need to direct engineering, and the CEO respect both the strategic and tactical needs, everyone will think marketing is doing a half-assed job.

    My two-cents.

  2. I would not agree that marketing does a great job at creating loyalty. People are loyal to people not to brands. If you think your customers are loyal to your brand because they buy it several times you will find you are unlikely to be alone. This is in the main. Sure you can argue people are loyal to apple. Yes and I would argue that they are passionate about the organizations approach and technology. This is not about marketing in the departmental corporate sense, this was loyalty to Jobs, a person that they bought into. The best marketing can’t foster loyalty to mediocrity. My $0.02c.

    • It is not marketing’s job to create loyalty. That is created by having a good product at a fair price and customer service that actually emphasizes service. Marketing’s job is to create branding, name recognition, and messaging that makes people want to try the product. So you are right, marketing cannot foster loyalty to mediocrity. It can only expose that mediocrity to a wider world. 🙂

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