Look at the state we’re in…


There are some great marketing networks out there right now which are really looking out for the future of our profession. A few weeks ago I went along to what will hopefully be the first of many “meet a mentor” gatherings run by the Chartered Institute of Marketing where seasoned marketers offered help and advice to those just getting started. And last night Alasdair Hall-Jones from the Marketing Society kindly invited me along to the launch of the society’s new “Manifesto for Marketing” on the top floor of the swanky Aviva offices right next to the Gherkin in the City.

The Manifesto is worth a look – you can find it at https://www.marketingsociety.co.uk/events-gallery/marketing-manifesto-sustainable-growth. It defines marketing as “creating sustainable growth by understanding, anticipating, and satisfying customer need” and challenges marketers to “pursue a purpose, champion customers, and mobilise their organisation”.

I like the approach and particularly like the fact that it’s not rocket science. It doesn’t mention terms like ‘brand’, ‘digital’, ‘comms’, and ‘micro-environmental analysis’ – the terms that got marketing as a profession into the state it is currently in.

Because I don’t quite agree with the Marketing Society on why a manifesto might be needed in the first place. The Society argues that marketing is currently “in rude health” (to quote Amanda Mackenzie last night), but that the world is changing and marketing needs to respond. I believe that marketing is in a pretty bad state right now. And it’s the fault of marketers that we’ve got it into that place.

There was no need for a manifesto for marketing just ten years ago or twenty years ago. Back then, marketing was a burgeoning profession.  Businesses were recognising the needs for a marketing department for the first time and growing and funding them accordingly.  The future looked bright.

But marketers squandered that future.  A marketing manifesto is needed now not because the business environment has changed but because the business view of marketing has changed.  Marketers have alienated our business audience. We haven’t talked in language that business understands. We haven’t talked about ‘sales’, ‘revenue’, ‘profit’, ‘growth’. Instead we’ve been talking about ‘brand’, ‘social media’, ‘sponsorships’ – terms that even marketers themselves can’t agree about. We haven’t been transparent in our terminology and we haven’t been inclusive in our discussions. And so business no longer knows what marketing actually is.  And so we’ve lost the respect that our profession had in the last generation.

There’s a crisis in our profession. But we are waking up to this.  That’s why this manifesto has appeared now. It’s not even the first marketing manifesto that’s appeared this month – see for example: http://econsultancy.com/uk/blog/62668-our-modern-marketing-manifesto-will-you-sign.

The driver for a manifesto that we can all get behind is important because it defines what we now do with it. The Marketing Society‘s manifesto was written by marketers.  The gathering last night was only of marketers and sought only the opinion of marketers about it. The manifesto is published on a speciality marketing site. That’s a good start.  But I think that the marketing profession needs to reach out to the rest of business to get their views on what marketing is and should be. We need to seek the views of CEOs and senior business leaders about what marketing should be. What’s the view of the CBI?  What about BABI? And so on. If we don’t consult more widely, we risk being as insular in our creation of a manifesto as we did in our conduct of marketing over the last twenty years.

In my view, a marketing manifesto is a great idea – which ever version we run with – but we need to get the implementation right if we are really going to turn things around.  And I hope that we can.

Because business needs good bold marketing more than ever.  And that’s a profession that I really want to be a part of.

About DaveStevensNow

Dave is an experienced global B2B Chief Marketing Officer / Marketing Director with an established reputation for delivering commercial results in start-up, mid-tier, and blue-chip businesses across professional and financial services, telecoms, and technology sectors. Dave has worked for major brands such as Telefonica O2, EY, and Barclays and held posts from Chief Marketing Officer to Director of Online, has run his own business, and managed a P&L for a major corporate. He is a graduate of Cambridge University, a Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) Chartered Marketer and holds a MBA with Imperial College, London. Dave is a keen cyclist and adventure traveller, is married, and lives in Buckinghamshire. You can read his blogs at www.DaveStevensNow.com.
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2 Responses to Look at the state we’re in…

  1. Hi Dave. Sadly I agree with you about the hole that marketing has dug itself into. On the plus side there are 3 or 4 chief execs who I’ve heard talking more passionately about the true role of marketing than many marketing gurus can! I think you’re right to point out that we can’t get out of the hole on our own.

    Reading about all these manifestos, I was reminded [cheap plug] of my rant last year about “why I love B2B marketing” http://bit.ly/1anYBWj. I’m tempted to get it re-written as a manifesto now… [/cheap plug]

  2. Too much marketing is voodoo talk. Whereas what it really needs to do is make people get a step closer to transacting. When business people get involved in marketing they want the whole world targetted – it’s their big moment! Businesses think it’s showbiz and focus on making a big impact. When business development guys get involved, they just want Marketing out of the way so they can get at the prospect. Marketing teams need to be brave enough to admit that measure incremental progress is often the best and desired impact.

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