The marketing disconnect

An article in Harvard Business School Working Knowledge brought back some old feelings about how marketing has become viewed in many organisations.

Fixing the Marketing-CEO Disconnect examines what has happened to the position of marketing in recent years and how it has dropped from a role of importance in the executive office. Locally I know that the marketing executive of a telco is no longer part of the executive team because marketing isn’t considered ‘strategic’ enough.

According to HBS:

“marketing exists far from the executive suite because the CEO perceives that there is not the same pressing need to master the marketing discipline as there is, for example, to master finance due to compliance issues”.

HBS points out that in many companies there is:

“a yawning gap between actual revenue growth and investors’ expectations … Marketing is the way in which firms can close this gap because it encompasses all the activities of an organization that listen to the customers’ voice and ultimately generates profitable relationships.”

Marketing has other responsibilities as well:

“responsibility for brand equity still resides in the marketing function, yet brand equity has never been more volatile and important”

The problem HBS identifies is that:

“the fundamental nature of marketing has shifted so rapidly that many companies have not kept pace … Over the past 10 years the mix of marketing skills needed by a company has radically changed”

From my experience, marketers at the corporate level in high-tech companies tended to have come from a marketing background. This may be appropriate if the company is in the consumer (B2C) end of the industry, but I don’t believe it helps at the business (B2B) end. Looking at the good marketers from companies like DEC and HP in the 1960s and 1970s, they tended to be from an engineering background. Those people could understand the technical issues of the products and then apply that knowledge to position those products to their target audience.

In my opinion, part of the problem that Microsoft Dynamics has against SAP (in SA anyway) is that Microsoft marketers come from the Microsoft ‘classic’, B2C side and think they can market to businesses in the same way.


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