I’m a marketing leper

Ironically, Marketing has a brand image problem.


I notice a growing tendency for people to associate Marketing with negative traits.  In group discussion on the clean energy market, I talked about how to discover people’s emotional motivators and appeal to them.  Response: “we don’t want to manipulate people.”

Introducing oneself as a marketer, especially among the social entrepreneurship and green crowd, is starting to feel like notifying new neighbors of a sex offense conviction.   Watch out marketers, we may soon be required to shout “Unclean” as we walk into Whole Foods.  Politically astute CMO’s are even renaming themselves to avoid being seen as Chief Misappropriation Offender.  The trend seems to be toward Chief Commercial Officer.  Sounds like someone who generates revenue and profit.

The marketing community needs to build a better brand.  Unfortunate associations:  profligate spending, lack of accountability, shrill tactics (The Most Amazing Sale Ever, Until Tomorrow’s Even More Awesome One), deception (insider product endorsements in social media, anyone?).

As I often say, a brand’s image will, over time, converge with what is true.  So maybe we have a problem with the reality of what we’re doing, and need to change that truth in order to earn more brand value for Marketing.

Here is what I will do to help:
1) root all marketing plans in business objectives;
2) track the correlation between brand health and profit health in core metrics;
3) replace “we don’t have enough money,” with “here is our plan, within budget…here is an alternative which improves the probability of success by X%…it requires $Y additional funding;”
4) sincerely seek input from peer functions;
5) demonstrate skill and excellence in execution;
6) accept the same accountability as Sales for results.

How about you?


2 Responses to “I’m a marketing leper”

  1. 1 Kevin Clark September 17, 2009 at 7:45 pm

    If marketing’s role is to find markets for stuff people don’t want, then those who serve here deserve what you document.

    I don’t feel this way – my role is to deliver insights. Connect business to culture. Strategy to promises. Promises to actions.

    Use our own tools for our own profession: Segment client sets, deselect clients those who want us to find markets for stuff people don’t want. Embrace those who want customer insights – to drive new offerings, and better position those in and coming to market. Find clients who understand or can be taught markets are conversations.

    Note: Clark’s Corollary (mine) to the Experience Economy Model (Pine & Gilmore) – “The more valuable something is, the less inherently measurable it is.” If you can precisely measure something, it is a commodity or well on the way of becoming one. Measure anything you can, yet discovery is always preceded by brilliant theory and insights before the repeatable experiments that validate. Validation = fast followers, not leaders.

    Select your clients before they select you.

  2. 2 Glen Gilbert September 18, 2009 at 10:03 am

    Excellent post Craig.
    Of course, as I believe we’ve discussed, it’s hard to translate theory into practice in certain (most?) organizations–especially those unwilling to invest sufficient funds into the access and analysis of the most basic of metrics. Oh for a world where we could convince C-suiters that a $1.00 investment in marketing would generate $1.17 in profit!

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