Marketing is in the news.
With recent highlights on the social networks more or less started through a rant from Dave McClure on startups not knowing about marketing.
It has since become a hot topic in the startup world, summarized in one short bit : even if you have the best product, you need to market it in order to sell it.
But, back to basics, was it not about time someone question marketing ?
Or the image people do associate with marketing at least.
Once upon a time, marketing.
Once upon a time, from corporate experience, marketing was the “sexy people’s job”. Those dinosaur ancestors to today’s hipsters. Wearing jeans, looking cool and paid to spend the money sales/technical/admin people were working their ass off to earn.
Spend the money in ads and fancy events like cocktails and parties.
Oh the good ol’ times.
Well that was also, more or less, the big picture drawn in schools as well.
I will hit back at schools later as some do seem to have not been updated since then.
The marketings. Corporations vs startups.
Opposing organizations which are obviously and fundamentally different is an easy move. Especially when building on the basic perceived image of both, I must admit.
Yet, they do provide a good picture of where “marketing” stands.
Corporations : still rely on various marketing departments, with specialized people, and an awful lot of steps, processes, say hurdles, to cope with.
The mindset does also seem not to evolve very quickly as the preferred channels for marketing a product feel like they are from the past (even from my past).
Newspapers, banners on websites, posters, etc … .
That is marketing – and communication overall – 0.0. Almost.
Startups, on the other hand, have, for most, embraced the web, the social tools and do offer a far more dynamic approach.
With a (good) website, propelled by some Twitter/Facebook/Instagram/Pinterest/blog engines, the reach and adaptability is amazing.
That is a Twitter DM campaign versus the old-fashioned emailing. So what ? Conversion rates are nowhere near each other.
What is marketing ?
Finally coming down to the point. Certainly where I should have started this piece.
Marketing, is and has never been the action of buying advertising space. Nor is it to throw a party and spend money on drinks.
Marketing, basically, is not even the marketing people’s job.
From the sales department to the administrative department, from the CEO to the “coffee machine operating officer” (…), everybody is responsible for marketing.
Any employee speaking about his/her job, be it to friends, family or any random stranger, is marketing the company – and the products.
This person does provide an insight on the company, displays an image, positive or negative, may even sell the products by giving good feedback about them (or not). In the end, everybody markets the whole company.
Beyond that, and back to the marketing job role, it has to be put back in place.
Marketing is not a random department, on the sidelines.
Marketers should be the people with the most complete knowledge of the company, the products, the people and processes.
And even more in our current world where not only the usability of a product is key but also the design, the price, etc … .
Marketers have to be involved with technicians (when applicable) to make technology usable for a standard customer. They have to assist designers in creating the most appealing product for the target market. They have to be involved with the sales department to understand the targets, consult on the positioning, help define pricing and, then, create the most effective materials and campaigns to generate interest and leads.
Marketing the marketing ?
I heard, some time ago, a CMO ( … Chief Marketing Officer), having been in business for a long time, speaking about something he had recently discovered regarding marketing : “marketing is at the centre of the company”.
The point is so true.
Yet, just discovering that is no bragging matter.
Anybody related to marketing should know that. Otherwise, they are just as useful as party-throwers.
Back to my item on schools (and to keep the rant alive), a recent discussion, with a student in “marketing” made me realise that even the top schools do still not abide by this kind of common sense.
They are still offering (very) specialized courses – and diploma.
In details, one student can graduate in marketing strategy. Another in marketing execution. And anything fancy that might come up in the future.
But, how can you build marketing strategy when not even having a clue about social media tools (not using Twitter, not knowing about WordPress, but the name … ) ?
You have to get the full picture in order to build something consistent.
But the approach of schools, who are actually intended to teach what marketing is and is about, is lacking this consistency. Illustrated by the way they created marketing “specialties”.
Here marketing needs to be re-marketed.
The marketing “rock star”.
Rock stars, gurus, ninjas, all inappropriate names to define someone’s expertise. Yet, I would use such a name to call what true marketers are about.
But I would rather call them swiss-knifes.
They have multiple skills, can assist in almost every part of the business and remain the person they are while embedding an amazing amount of knowledge and skills.
The best example of the true 2.0 marketing expert : a startup Chief Marketing Officer (or whatever name they would give to the job). Especially when the startup is still young and not big on staff.
From chats with startups’ CMOs, the very foundations of their job appear to be :
– Knowing the product/technical specifications
– Interacting with the team
– Brainstorming on design/message/packaging
– Managing the communication/ads/etc …
– Handling the website and every social network account for the company
– Finding partners, resellers, etc …
– Selling the product
– Ensuring everybody in the startup can push the right message out (to family, friends, anybody they come across and speak to about the startup and the product)
– Etc … (please feel free to add your own extra jobs)
Basically we speak multiple skills, multiple tasks, multiple jobs.
So very far from the “specialized” marketing segments like the sole “strategy”. Or “execution”.
This is where marketing should stand.
At the centre of the company, pulling information from all channels available (technical, business, …) and pushing information inside and outside the company through every available network.
Oh and it does also help pushing a consistent message by the way.
Welcome to the real world of marketing!
So, what is your take in the end ? Where does your marketing stands ? Party-throwers or company experts ?
(Images : Samuel Pavin and HubSpot free pack)