Marketers must demonstrate their contribution
The Chartered Institute of Marketing has recently published the first part of a new survey, titled “The impact of marketing part 1 - the mission for marketing”. The basis of the report is that marketers feel under-appreciated for their contribution and find it difficult to define what they do.
The report showed that only 23% of the marketers in the survey felt their colleagues were aware of what marketers did. Of those who were unaware of what marketers did, 15% did not understand the purpose of marketing and 20% of them did not recognize its value
It seems little has changed, as similar reports come out about every ten years or so.
In 2005 by the Chartered Institute of Marketing, revealed that just 11 of the United Kingdom’s FTSE 100 companies had a marketer on the main board. In January 2008 , “Marketing” magazine published an article entitled “Marketers Lack Influence in the Boardroom”, based on the findings of Deloitte’s report “Marketing in 3D”on the attitude of organizations to “marketing”. It seems that nothing has been learned and little has changed.
If “marketing” is as undervalued as marketers often claim, then Marketers must prove themselves and demonstrate how their profession is not only relevant to a business, but is an essential function for its development. Marketers often consider themselves experts at marketing communications, yet if they are so good at communications, why are they apparently misunderstood and “marketing” undervalued? The problem seems to start with not understanding the nature of marketing.
The Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) defined “marketing” as being, ‘The management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably’. Thus “marketing” is a management process that organises the assets and resources of all the specialist constituent activities of advertising , public relations, customer relationship management, market research, etc, to produce profitable income, and not another name for any other constituent of what used to be called the “Marketing mix”.
Marketers have to be clear about what they do and to quantify what they contribute to the production of profitable income, and the business in general. The task of the commercial manager is to produce and maximize sustainable profitable income, while minimizing the use of assets and investment. Thus all that the commercial manager 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 these 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 non marketers who need to read 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 marketing and the work of professional marketers.
Marketers need to have clear job descriptions that define their responsibilities and provide for quantified outcomes. While brand awareness, market penetration, customer retention and many other aspects of marketing are important, their contribution is collectively to assist in making the successful sales from which the revenue is derived. If all the business getting activities are to be managed efficiently and effectively, then measuring marketing performance is essential.
Thus marketing performance must ultimately be measured by the amount of profitable revenue generated, together with the efficient use of assets and investment, conveyed , in the language of finance for the benefit of the Chief Executive Officers (CEO) , showing how much income was made and how much it cost to produce it. By communicating in plain, intelligible English, marketers will gain credibility from their audience and be valued for their contribution and professionalism by their employers.
Whether it is described as the “Bottom Line,” “net earnings”, “income” or “profit”, the professional marketer must always be able to quantify the contribution made by the marketing function in the realization of the company’s business objectives, in order to justify the need for the continuity of investment.
If people do not understand the definition of “marketing,” then they will not understand the value of professional marketers. If marketers insist on continually changing the meaning of words to describe the work they do, they will be rightly accused of seeking to create a false mystique, which will be harmful to their professional future.
There are a number of things that Marketers should do to improve their image and demonstrate their contribution to their respective businesses:
- Use plain language in describing their work and results; avoid acronyms, jargon, “business speak” and cliché.
- Confine the use of the word “marketing” to the context of the CIM 1976 definition, and not misuse it as an alternative term for CRM, advertising, PR, Search Engine Optimization or any of the specialist activity.
- Marketers must seek to measure their performance and contribution to their respective employers in quantifiable terms; qualitative analysis and justification carries little respect at boardroom level.
Like it or not, marketers must realize that CEO believe that the generation of revenue is the responsibility of what they have come to understand as the “marketing” function. If marketers do not see that generating revenue is their prime responsibility, then CEOs will soon find others who may not be professional marketers, to do the job in their stead.