Wednesday, August 11, 2010

On Marketing Philosophy...

Picture this, you're a young, recently graduated student in the field of marketing.  You went to a respected business school and eventually found your calling.  The classes were stimulating, the people exciting and there was the opportunity to be creative and solve real problems.  There's just one problem.

It's that gargantuan stink cloud that's always floating overhead, polluting the environment and contaminating everything it touches.  It's there when you're attending lectures, in the halls, the coffee shop and even at the pub when you're kicking back a few with your friends.  And what is this rankness?  It's the abysmal, crummy, godawful, pathetic (look up bad in the Thesaurus) reputation of marketing and it seeps into everything this multi-billion dollar industry touches.

Where did we go wrong?  The textbook definition of "The Marketing Concept" is almost noble in it's unabashed calling to serve your customers.  Let's look at what a few of the few of the great business minds have to say about marketing:
Marketing is not only much broader than selling, it is not a specialized activity at all It encompasses the entire business. It is the whole business seen from the point of view of the final result, that is, from the customer's point of view. Concern and responsibility for marketing must therefore permeate all areas of the enterprise.  DRUCKER
The marketing concept is a philosophy, not a system of marketing or an organizational structure. It is founded on the belief that profitable sales and satisfactory returns on investment can only be achieved by identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer needs and desires.  BARWELL
A philosophy of doing business centered on satisfying the customer as your only hope of ever being profitable.  From a customer's point of view that sounds pretty damn good, doesn't it?  So why aren't businesses lining up to serve us, to strike up a conversation or to make our day a little easier?

How did we, as marketers, get away from this fundamental concept?  I think the answer lies in our recent shift to modern media-centric consumer culture.  Things like television and radio gave more power to large corporations at the expense of the customer who could be easily replaced.  Even the word "consumer" reflects this apparent change in values.  In short, we've become drunk with power. 

Of course there are organizations that have taken the philosophy of marketing to heart.  They're the ones using all their strength and power to improve the world in little ways, to solve their customer's problems and to make the world a better place.  There's more of them than you think.  And as technology continues to evolve it will radically change the relationship between company and customer.  It's an exciting time to be a true marketer (not a telemarketer, or one of the thousands of offshoots sullying our name).  

The Road (Movie Tie-in Edition 2009) (Vintage International)Marketing is not a process, it's a philosophy.  It's a way of structuring how you think about and approach [business] problems.  It's a philosophy that takes a lot of hard work, creative solutions and an unwavering commitment to do good for your customers.  This is why I say that you need to think like a marketer - as though your customer were your entire world.  And if you need some help to imagine what that might look like, read Cormac McCarthy's The Road for a glimpse at the true meaning of love.  With marketing, it's never "just business."

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