If you want to see how passionate people are about their great ideas, attend South by SouthWest (SXSW) or one of the many DEMO events held each year.
Three or four people stand on the stage and make a tightly orchestrated pitch on how their product/service is going to change the world.
Well, it’s obvious. It’s a brilliant idea, a great product, a gotta’ have service, a solution people will use once and wonder how they lived without it.
Pressed to answer the important question, “Yes, but how?” in our fast-moving, fast-changing Internet-sensitive marketplace; and you have folks stumbling over their own words.
For the answer, they turn to the person who has the title of head of marketing, which usually means the best salesperson on the team.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with selling. Some of the nicest folks I know are salespeople.
They’re vital–even in today’s self-service marketplace.
Without them, nothing happens for a company but selling is just…selling. You know, one-on-one, one-on-a number.
Marketing, on the other hand, knows where the total industry is going, what is being developed in their specific industry and what products/services are going to be wanted and needed in specific market segments.
Or, at least it’s supposed to!
Marketing is so important that it’s the driving force for many organizations because it gets inputs, ideas for management from everywhere … even customers.
It’s so important that we have a wide range of “marketing professionals” in the field today including:
The true marketing manager. These folks are as rare as a natural pearl in a bed of over-stimulated oysters
The individual who got a job as product manager and was able to scale the corporate ladder because he/she didn’t make too many mistakes in the last position
The sales/marketing manager. People in this broad group can be broken down into four categories:
Those who do not understand all of the marketing functions and surround themselves with experts. They listen to input and rely on others to provide ideas and concepts which are based on logic. They monitor, but let these experts run their part of the show. They orchestrate all of the activities.
Those who do not understand marketing but are certain they really do. They took a course in marketing and writing. They have heard of such things as market segmentation and positioning, as well as the interrelationship of R & D, finance, corporate direction and selling. But to them, there are distinct areas—advertising, communications and selling. And they are mutually exclusive. They will attempt to run the show.
Those who are excellent salespeople and also understand that their companies have to have such things as a position, image and research. But they concentrate on their area of expertise and ask only to be kept advised as to what is going on in the marketing areas. They want to be protected from their shortcomings.
Those who know they have goals and objectives because management gave them their sales targets for the year. They know they have budgets because finance gave them the figures on what they could spend in the coming year. If the two have any relationship, it is purely coincidental. They have nothing to do with where the company really wants to be at the end of the year or three to five years from now. Management’s attitude is generally, "Okay, how are you going to waste our money this year?" and “Don’t spend more, even if there’s a dynamite reason, opportunity or need.”
Management is often satisfied in having any one of these types as long as they don’t rock the boat.
The CEO, president often doesn’t fully grasp that in today’s product/service arena; marketing is, in reality, the hub activity for the company.
Marketing people really have the responsibility of managing the outward and inward flow of information for the firm. With the right people in place, staff groups – engineering, finance, R&D and production — should look to marketing for input, guidance, direction and assistance.
The reason is simple. These people should be results-oriented.
They’re supposed to have the resources and smarts to determine what the next generation of products/services should be.
They should be monitoring where the market is going so they can have solutions available before the demand (and the competition) is there.
They should be focused not just on having new, additional products/services to sell, but how to fit them into market segments (today and tomorrow) and how to package/present them so they are appealing to consumers.
They shouldn’t just develop promotion on what engineering has developed.
They want to "sell some product," but they want to sell that product to the target audiences again, and again, and again.
When we discuss such product areas as game software, Internet communications, M&E (media and entertainment) production, IoT (Internet of Things) market/application segments and streaming content to a full spectrum of devices; the key is do they understand the distribution channels and customer options?
That’s vital because they have to develop, mold and build the intangible solution satisfaction in the prospects’ minds.
Both consumer and business marketing executives have the ability to recognize needs and mobilize resources.
Today, marketers need a grasp of sales management as well as customer service and support. They need to know customers on a one-to-many and one-to-one basis, rather than simply dealing with population concept/profiles.
The Marketer's Functions
All of marketing requires planning — and planning in an area that is often glossed over or done in a very superficial manner. Some even mistake their advertising, public relations and sales promotion/literature programs as being their marketing plan.
They need to spell out the corporate and business unit objectives.
Once they are agreed on by the team, management set down strategies needed to achieve those objectives as well as the necessary tactics or actions for the entire organization – R&D, finance, production and marketing.
Marketing should analyze every aspect of the company's business as well as the competition's activities. This includes a comprehensive understanding of market factors, customer needs, competition, product/service features/benefits, etc.
Then and only then can the information be translated into a marketing-focused corporate strategy and tactics for sales, communications and activities.
What Lies Ahead
There is still selling and there will always be a need for the person who closes the sale.
Everything else – including online efforts — is designed to bring two people together.
In other words, strong/professional marketing is an important part of the company’s ability to survive and thrive.
Today, marketing is the name of the game and every member of the management team has to understand it, be involved with it and be devoted to making it work.
Total marketing is an attitude as well as a management tool.
The frills and nonessentials are stripped away and the work ahead is disclosed for everyone to see. This enables everyone to be able to agree on objectives, action and timing.
By thinking in integrated and coordinated marketing terms, something strange might happen in your company…products (hardware, service and software) may be available when they are advertised, not six months to a year later.
The most time-consuming element in marketing is converting the plans or decisions into effective actions– assigning specific parts of the plan to individuals, teams, or departments to produce results.
If people have participated in the development of the plan and understand it, they can commit to making it succeed.
Fortunately or unfortunately, as rapidly as our industries are changing, it is impossible to write a plan at the beginning of the year and live by it until the following year. It has to be evaluated monthly with variances noted and explained.
The annual marketing plan should never get away from marketing. It should be evaluated monthly with variances noted so the plan can be modified as needed.
All of the industry prophets note that there is going to be a combination consolidation and shakeout. Everyone agrees but it is going to be the other guys … not them.
The only way this can be guaranteed is to have a strong, aggressive, seasoned and highly professional marketing person who is willing to share responsibility and authority.
Unfortunately, there is a critical shortage of marketers who are competent and confident enough to share.
You know, the person who knows how to get the best from every member of the organization … for the good of the organization.