My Letter to the Editor

The CIM magazine The Marketer has been turning up on my door step for the last 5 years. I never used to read it but I now find it to be really useful. The Institute quite often prints case studies that are relevant to the assignments set for CIM students and I enjoy the other tit-bits of information that generally make me better at my job!

I was so delighted that CIM printed my letter to the editor this month that I’d like to share it:

(September 1st 2009): I went to a great talk today – Professor John Saunders presented a new White Paper from The Institute called The future of marketing. To be honest I didn’t expect to be told anything new. It’s been the same old message for years now: “Marketers need to be more accountable”; “Marketers don’t justify their value”, and so on. So when this concept was presented yet again I began to settle in to my chair for more of the usual.

Saunders quickly lifted my spirits, however, as he talked about the research that had been carried out as part of the paper. Both chief financial officers and chief marketing officers concluded that marketers are not only unaccountable, but also lack innovation.

To be honest this shocked me a little at first. Not creative enough? Surely marketing is all about creativity – think of the latest batch of weird Cadbury adverts or new e-books – there’s no “me too” there.

As Saunders talked more I came round to thinking that this could actually be true and that in some sense it should be expected. It’s almost a vicious circle: marketers are scared to be creative when they find it difficult to justify their decisions and spend. And on the flip side, how can we account for our actions, how can we justify “marketing” when we aren’t being creative? It really is quite a destructive hole we have dug for ourselves.

The other thing that hit me about this research is that marketers are losing some elements of the infamous “mix”. We no longer command pricing in the way we used to and we are having to “share” distribution and product development with other teams. The only “P” we still own is promotion. This worries me a little as I often get on my high horse about how marketing is much more than communications. While I recognise the need to be collaborative and integrate with other departments, I think marketers should take back what we are good at – we should fight for the Ps in an accountable and innovative way.

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