Effective communication requires plain speaking

11th Apr 2022

“Intellectual discussions between marketing executives using flowery language and drawing diagrams on a white board can be a million miles away from reality.”

“An orgy of intellectual over-thinking seduces the rest of the management team to applaud their findings with the same blind faith afforded to the emperor’s new clothes.”

So wrote Sir John Timpson, chairman of the high street services provider, Timpson, in the Daily Telegraph recently.

The Chartered Institute of Marketing defines marketing as being: “the management function that anticipates and satisfies customer demand profitably.” Marketing is not confined to advertising, promotions or public relations, but is a function of management to control assets and investments to produce profitable revenue, by anticipating and satisfying customer demand. As such, the value of “marketing” and the contribution of marketers must be measured by results.

The principle task of every business is to make money, by the provision of products and services that are designed to provide the solutions to problems that customers have. Successful businesses have to understand customer’s problems and to adapt to meet their changing needs. Marketing mangers are responsible for managing marketing to produce profitable income for the long term future of the business, while minimising costs and the use of assets.

 In the present trading climate, getting and retaining business will continue to be difficult for the foreseeable future. Companies expect that sales income will probably be less than previous years, and that they will have to work harder to maximize their potential income. Demonstrating efficiency and effectiveness in obtaining that income will have increasing importance

The only thing that the Chief Executive really wants to know is, how much profitable revenue has been produced and how much it cost to produce it? Business reports and other communications must clearly show what marketers are contributing and how their actions directly or indirectly assist in the production of profitable income. For many marketers, communication actually is the problem. Examination of many marketing reports and articles leaves the impression that they are written by marketers for marketers, rather than for those who need them in order to make informed management decisions. Marketing jargon and “corporatese” which fill such articles and reports with fashionable words and meaningless phrases such as,  “blue sky thinking”, “leveraging”, “alignments” and “stakeholders”, to name but a few, confuse and bore the reader. Thus potentially important documents are easily dismissed by readers as “so much irrelevant waffle”.  This poor communication, devalues the contribution of the process of the marketing function and the work of professional marketers. What can marketers do about this?

The purpose of communication is to impart knowledge and understanding to its recipient. Marketers must communicate what they do, how they do it and with what results. To convey this, marketers need to present their results, in the language of finance for the benefit of the chief executive, showing how much income was made and how much it cost to produce it. But every other form of communication needs to be given in plain English devoid of “corporatese” “marketing speak,” and fashionable jargon, so that anyone is able to read or hear with complete understanding. By communicating in plain, intelligible English, marketers will gain credibility from their audience and be valued for their contribution and professionalism by their employers.

Performance measurement is an indispensable part of marketing. Used properly, performance measurements should be used to illuminate not only performance within a business organisation, but also to indicate where changes are taking place with customers and the trading environment. 

The marketing manager should ensure that each employee:

  1. Understands their job description, their responsibilities, and reporting lines.

  2. Understands the importance of their contribution in the company team and the reliance that other team members will have on them.

  3. Understands that the business is there to make money by satisfying customer requirements profitably, and that their individual efforts contributes to making that possible.

  4.  Is encouraged to express opinions on how improvements may be made in satisfying customer requirements while maintaining and improving profitable income.

  5. Use performance measurements to assist employees maintain efficiency and   to indicate change and developments in the business environment.

  6. Ensure that all those collectively involved in satisfying customer requirements understand that they must collaborate as a team to produce profitable income and the desired results.

The performance of the marketing function should be measured in sustainable profitable revenue. However, the sustainability of future revenue is dependent on continuing customer satisfaction with the price, product and service combination. Customer satisfaction can only be judged from surveys to ascertain the level of satisfaction and the customer’s perception of the product, company and service. Such surveys may indicate problems which, although they are not the responsibility of the marketing manager, may have adverse effects on the overall business performance. 

Although marketing managers may not have executive responsibility for all the business operations involved in developing and maintaining customer satisfaction, by cultivating an executive interest in all areas of customer satisfaction, they will be able advice and report to the board on all customer related activities, demonstrating the importance of the integrated management approach involved in generating sustainable profitable revenue.


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