“Marketing is too important to be left to the marketing department.”
But what is marketing and why should every manager have marketing awareness?
There are two meanings to marketing. Firstly there is marketing as a function, in the same way that production, IT or finance are functions or departments within a business. The second meaning, often known as the marketing concept, is the notion of marketing as an approach to business.
The crux of the marketing concept is the idea of the business being organised around meeting the needs of the customers in an integrated way, that is, working efficiently with every single person pulling in the same direction.
In the diagram above, we see that marketing integrates all functions, including the marketing department (which is responsible for activities such as promotion). The marketing concept depends on an acknowledgement that marketing is the responsibility of everyone in the organisation. However, one cannot expect positive results unless responsibility is accompanied by knowledge, skills and understanding. Not to mention attitude. Training is essential. All managers must understand:
- brand – what it is, how it is shaped, what effect it has, its value
- segmentation – why it is the foundation of marketing and how it should affect everyone in the firm
- positioning – something that takes place in the mind of the customer
- how customers buy – their criteria and processes, factors that influence their choices
- competitors – who they are (not always obvious), their likely actions ….. and so on
Removing the blinkers
Our courses can develop this marketing understanding, so that managers will be better able to make the right decisions within their own departments. Every aspect of the business is viewed in terms of how it supports the generation of revenues. If I, as an IT manager, do not understand how customers buy, then my ability to recommend new hardware and software or advise on our online presence is drastically diminished.
“Unfortunately, the answer [for] many companies has been to recruit a ‘marketing person’ and leave them to get on with the job of marketing. But it will now be obvious that such a solution can never work, because the marketing concept, if it is to work at all, has to be understood and practised by all executives in a firm, not just by the marketing manager. Otherwise everyone goes on behaving just as they did before and the marketing man quickly becomes ineffective.”
How can I as a finance manager balance the request for new production equipment against the demands of the marketing department for more advertising if I do not have an appreciation of branding? Indeed, as the production manager, how can I argue my case for new equipment if I cannot justify it in terms of satisfying customer needs?
This does not mean that engineers have to become experts in direct mail or that personnel managers need to understand media planning. It simply means that every decision made in a business should be set within the context of meeting customers’ needs within a competitive environment. If you do not understand why customers buy (or don’t buy) from you, then any decisions that you make will be flawed.
And just like our finance courses enable managers to justify decisions in financial terms, our marketing courses provide managers with the equally important principles and language to link their proposals to brand, customers and competitors.
Perception is all
There is no such thing as a product. There is only the customer’s perception of the product. An airline executive encapsulated this when he said,
“If our headrest covers are not straight, people assume that our engine maintenance is sloppy.”
People make almighty leaps from the smallest details:
- the quality of your customer service based on how long it takes you to answer the phone
- the technical excellence of your solutions based on the design of your website (hope you like ours!)
- your financial stability on the basis of your office reception
Managers must keep the customer at the forefront of their mind at all times and recognise that marketing is a team game; it is the responsibility of every manager in the business.