Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Marketing Pep Talk

Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.

This is the definition of marketing approved by the American Marketing Association. I am proud of my membership in this organization and my ongoing commitment to the profession, however that being said, we are a confused bunch. This definition confirms it. Can you imagine someone using that jumble of words in an elevator speech? Would a lawyer, accountant or plumber have that much trouble articulating his/her line of business?

Ironic as it seems, marketing people struggle more than most when it comes positioning themselves. We want a seat at the table when the company is hammering out its strategic plan. Indeed, a few enlightened companies do have a Chief Marketing Officer on the team with the CEO, CFO and others. But that CMO is the exception - rather than the rule - most of the time.

Ask any successful marketer about their career path and I would wager you would discover one of two things:

1)    They came by marketing from a different professional discipline – like sales or operations or even engineering.

2)    They have had to reinvent themselves many times over because their career growth in their chosen profession has required them to change.

Because of those two common career journey scenarios, it is often difficult to coach or teach people what it takes to be a great marketer. Marketers need to be smart, intuitive, analytical, inquisitive, curious and fearless. Maybe most of all, Marketers need to be resilient.

Not everyone will get it. Sometimes the bean-counters will prevail in a battle over short and longer term thinking. Sometimes marketing is marginalized, downsized and downright dismantled. But every now and then, when the stars line up just right, Marketing wins! That’s when breakthroughs happen. That’s where I want to be. Are you with me? 

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