Member Since: 1st Feb 2010
Associate Partner Optima Partners
20th Sep 2010
I would be very wary of giving responsibility for sustainability to the marketing function, de facto - the risk is that it becomes about what marketers are strong at - comms and brand image - and less about making substantive changes across the organisation. Marketers do not, for the most part, have the clout and credibility to get this done. The exception to that would be in FMCG because marketing is the route to the top. It is the most powerful function, therefore it takes a leadership role and can get things done.
I would argue that you either give it to the most powerful function, whatever that is - engineering, operations, finance, marketing. Alternatively I would give it to the function that currently has the highest carbon footprint or generates most waste - the function that is most responsible for current lack of sustainability.
5th Jul 2010
Hi Nicholas - I completely agree that the word marketing has been so corrupted to be almost useless. Perhaps that is due to its origins - 'a market', where people collected to buy and sell goods, transformed into a verb 'to market' then nominalised back into a noun 'marketing'.
Implicit in the term is the idea that you just have to get your goods out there (and set the price right) to generate revenue. Perhaps that is one of the reasons why push marketing predominates - marketing reduced to marketing communications to achieve the desired positioning, what Philip Kotler has described as 1-P marketing. More likely though this reduction has come about because comms is frequently all that marketing controls nowadays. Whether marketing has reduced itself to this, or been reduced to it by the expansion of other functions into its baileywick because of lack of confidence in marketing's capability to execute (Finance taking control of pricing for example), is moot. Either way, outside the FMCG/CPG heartlands, marketing function typically does not have the influence - perhaps not even the inclination - to shape all the different touchpoints that a customer has with a business and its products or services that add up to the customer experience.
Like you I have wondered if there is an alternative to the term marketing and I like your definition of what it should stand for as it captures the necessary duality - what I call creating value for the business by creating value for customers - that so frequently gets lost, typically in a pre-occupation with the first part. Unfortunately neither my or your definitions lend themselves to the creation of a new acronym that could unambiguously stand for what is required. But I am sure that there is one out there...
Problem is, there are just too many people with an emotional stake in the word marketing for it ever to be made redundant - professors of marketing at business schools, people who like to describe themselves as marketers at cocktail parties (!) and, of course, institutes of marketing ;-)
5th Jul 2010
Great article, Wim.
Some 50+ years ago Theodore Levitt pointed out that customers don't want a quarter-inch drill, they want a quarter-inch hole. Problem is that seems to be increasingly forgotten. Levitt's seminal Marketing Myopia was the first thing given to MBA students for many a year. In many respects it marked the beginning of the marketing Enlightenment. Unfortunately many of the lessons it talks about have been forgotten. He championed the focus on delivering customer satisfaction rather than pushing products. It was the role of marketing to focus on an external constituency rather than an internal construct. (No one else in the organisation would.) Unfortunately that external focus has been forgotten, though rather than pushing products marketing is pre-occupied with building brands. We are naturally egocentric, and branding panders to that tendency - encouraging marketers to look in the mirror rather than out of the window.
1st Jul 2010
Thanks Samantha and Julie for your comments - I have forwarded the link to the company concerned and their European customer research manager is going to be contacting me!
Neil - an automated questionnaire and your answering machine, you couldn't make it up! Think Southern Electric have shot to the top of the dire practice in customer research table. The truth is, there are probably even worse examples out there. Scary!
17th Mar 2010
Based on this summary I feel the diagnosis of the problem with CRM is correct but the suggested treatment in the form of new technologies doesn't necessarily provide a cure.
All the new technology in the world will not make a difference unless the mindset changes. The traditional CRM mindset focused on the benefits for the company - how operations could be made more efficient, how more value could be extracted from customers - not on improving the customer's experience. And it is pretty clear that the same mindset is being applied to the new technologies coming on stream. Certainly for all the talk of social CRM enabling conversations, the majority of pitches describing its benefits focus on the 'what is in it for the company' line. If you can only articulate the benefits for one side of a conversation it will pretty quickly turn into a monologue. Perhaps not surprising then that Gartner Predicts 2010 for CRM referred to the risk of customers being stalked on social networking sites and the likelihood of internet marketing being regulated by 2015.
The same argument applies to predictive analytics. If it is solely focused on the business interests such as identifying trigger points for purchases so appropriate messages can be sent, ultimately customers will be swamped. If it is about trying to understand customers real underlying needs so they can be served better, then it will deliver value to both parties. Again self-service can be a win for both sides, but if seen just as a means for the business to take out front end costs it won't be.
Unless marketers and those responsible for CRM genuinely embrace the Drucker viewpoint, not simply parrot it, the same problems will exist. In that regard I share Steve Prentice's view entirely. I am just not sure that the new technologies coming on stream signify that shift has occurred or whether it will just be a case of more of the same.
10th Mar 2010
Excellent piece, Guy. Social CRM enthusiasts talk about its potential for dialogue rather than traditional monologue marketing, but scratch below the surface and most behave as if it is just another channel to broadcast brand messages and stalk customers on social media sites for the purpose of acquiring new leads.
As long as the traditional marketing mindset prevails - which despite protestations of customer-centricity is pre-occupied with internal considerations such as brand building and the business financial interests - social media marketing will be more of the same. That would be a great shame because as you point out, it can be a hugely powerful means for delivering great customer service and an enhanced customer experience.