Marketing misunderstood!

23 Dec, 2014
By Mark Baines

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Management Today, that august organ of wannabe millionaires, has this month shown a complete lack of understanding of the profession of ‘marketing’.

They’ve published their league table of the ‘most admired’ British companies (well done Johnson Matthey). One of their nine measures of success is ‘Quality of Marketing’ – and guess what, they’re all high profile advertising consumer brands!

Now don’t get me wrong – I’m not a prude - I love the ads on telly. In fact they’re generally more interesting than the programmes they interrupt. But this is not ‘marketing’ - this is communicating the marketing message.

I’ve spent half my life trying to persuade clients to think strategy first, tactics second, but here is a clear case of the reverse.

It seems that nearly everyone, MT included, equates marketing with advertising. It’s no wonder that in the professional services, engineering and technology markets that I largely inhabit, where there is no advertising beyond trade sites and mags – and precious little of that – marketing is known as the ‘colouring-in department’.

“Marketing? That’s down the corridor, last room on the right”. Welcome to the fluffy department, where we’re expected to wear loud clothes and be creative, like performing monkeys, until the altogether more sensible and trusted CFO pops us back into our box.

Nooooooooooo! Without marketing at the core of a business, it will fail. And as long as business commentators keep peddling the idea that marketing is just advertising with knobs on, then they will be perpetrating this myth and encouraging failure.

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