Business Strategy

November 25, 2014

Marketing is a commercial function not a shouty one

By James No comments
Before I got into the communications industry I sort of assumed that was what marketing was all about, communications or more accurately TV advertising. Understandable really, fresh out of college all I could see was the advertising on our telly, the big posters on the high street, and the press ads. I was wrong then and a lot of organisations are equally wrong today.

Too frequently marketing, whether B2B or B2C, has become the home of what are perceived as useful but non essential type activities like advertising, CRM, Brand, Events.Thats is why marketing lacks board representation. It is an attitude even more prevalent in sales led organisations.

Maybe in some instances it is the right one, but it is frustrating for marketers because marketing in the broader sense has the power to transform a business. Notice I didn’t say drive leads or sales. You have to set your sights higher than that. Marketing is, or more to the point, should be a commercial function not a shouty function. It needs to help the business address the big questions like:

Who are targeting? Who are we NOT targeting? What are they worth? What are we prepared to invest in converting them? What do they need? Why are they not engaging with us? Is our product or service fit for purpose? Is there a smarter way to distribute our product or service? How are we going to make money? That sounds like the start of a business case.

It feels as though the CMO has all too often become the CCO, the chief communications officer. The role of marketing has been split across multiple functions, including sales, finance, customer service; lots of owners but little accountability for the big picture. This is in stark contrast with Peter Drucker’s viewpoint on the importance marketing.

“A business has only two functions, marketing and innovation. Everything else is cost.”

Drucker’s perspective is difficult to argue with this especially now in a world where businesses are transparent, products are increasingly commoditised or  copied and such a premium is placed on customer experience.

So how is it going to change?

I wonder if the catalyst will be the recognition that we are now all in the business of service, every product brand is effectively becoming a service or it should do so. If you buy that idea then you tend to think of your business having two sides; the customer facing half, and the internal half. The new CMO will be the CXO, the customer experience officer.


And with that the role of marketing is re-elevated. Job done.