In a recent article published in Marketing Society the editor of ‘Market Leader’ – Judie Lannon commented that marketers are getting ‘squeezed’ – as aspects of their role fall increasingly within the domain of others. She’s right of course – they’re getting squeezed. And to get away from the internal squeeze – marketers need to get out and engage and collaborate more. (You can see the original article and comments here. )
Lannon raises an interesting point. It’s a problem for marketers, especially if they restrict their role to marketing communications (‘colouring in department’) and some co-managing some aspects of research, development, service and sales. Are they the experts in these areas? Do they drive improvements? Or are Sales, Finance, IT better placed to do this now that marketing is no longer the mysterious art & science it once appeared? The best definition of marketing I know is “Marketing = Serving Customers Profitably”. Serving is about representing the consumers voice – and going in to bat on behalf of the customer when the product, service, price and delivery is not what the market can tolerate. As Seth Godin says, too many marketers see their role as doing ‘just enough that you can get away with – before you lose the customer’. Many marketers do not want to (or do not have time to?) tune in their ‘radar’ to the outside world and uncover the new. Too often they are focused upon repeatedly ‘broadcasting’ their brand, sales and discount offers from HQ. The orientation needs to shift from internal – to external. From broadcast – to radar. If marketers need to be the drivers of innovation (and not have this increasingly led by IT / technology, operations, sales and finance – let alone the strategy teams, agencies and consultants lead this process) – then they need to be the pioneers of fresh relevant ideas and insights. And that does not come from having the same conversations, with the same people, in the same offices. It does not come from stage-managed brain storms. Nor just from speaking to agencies. Marketers need to power up the radar, scan the horizons and hone their ‘collaborative’ streak and realise, as some of the best brands in the world have, that the future is all about ‘partner or perish’ (to quote Xerox). Brands cannot go it alone they need to find collaborative allies. The best ideas do not come from isolation they emerge from conversations that include the fresh views of outsiders, from industry colleagues (maybe even competitors) – ‘adjacent’ markets, critical suppliers and critical customers. To avoid being squeezed, marketers should get away from the restrictions of working within the organisation and being the specialists at understanding the world of opportunity that exists outside it.
For more on the importance of collaboration in creating in better commercial ideas see Technology & Innovation As Adaptation and More Exaptation Marketing – Less Innovation or visit www.benchstone.co.uk