Roles of Marketing Pt. 1

Many sales problems can only be solved by improved marketing — selling harder is often not the solution. More . . . or perhaps just better . . . marketing may be what’s needed. Marketing, however, presents a special problem for any company that has not yet developed a professionally staffed marketing department in that marketing is both unfamiliar and too often confused with simply advertising and promotion.

Most successful companies grow from a small enterprise based on the founder’s idea or vision. In the early stages, the founder usually plays many roles. It’s common to see a founder handling engineering and/or sales roles. As the company succeeds and grows, these tasks are often (rightly) delegated to others. However, the one area most often key to the long term success of the company is the function of marketing. This post discusses:

  • The marketing functions
  • The problems marketing can prevent or solve
  • The contributions you should expect from marketing

The definition of marketing has been attempted by many authors. It is commonly referred to as the process of relating the potential customers’ needs and wants to the company, and then addressing the company’s solutions to meet those needs and wants back to the marketplace. We have described marketing as the process of focusing on Who the customer really is, and What the customer is actually buying from you . . . rather than what you’re selling. What customers can buy from your firm . . . that they cannot buy (or don’t think they can buy) from another . . . is the real reason they do business with you.

The marketing functions within your company that support this work can be divided into four main areas: strategic marketing, product management, product marketing, and marketing services. All of these functions are necessary to have an effective marketing effort. However, they are distinct. How much of each you need . . . and who should perform these duties . . . are important issues. In the remainder of this post we will look at the first of the four roles. In a subsequent post we will look at the other three and how to tie it all together.

Strategic Marketing is the future component of the marketing problem. Strategic issues include:

  • What business is your company in?
  • What business should you be in?
  • What products or services should be designed and offered?
  • What technical capabilities need to be developed within the company or acquired from outside the company?

Other related strategic issues include:

  • Marketing channel strategies (How do you reach your customers, then sell and deliver the goods?)
  • Competitive positioning (What sets your company apart in the minds of your customers?)
  • A complete understanding of, and the ability to communicate to customers, What they can buy from your company that they cannot buy from any other company.

The strategic role requires a person who is a generalist, with a broad view of the market, the industry, and the company. This is usually the role of the Marketing Vice-President, but often maintained by the founder/CEO . . . and sometimes this is a good arrangement and sometimes it’s not. Where the CEO holds this responsibility and is not fully capable, portions of the strategic function may be provided by a senior marketing manager or by outside consultants.

Before we get into the next role, let’s briefly look at Product Marketing Vs. Product Management:

The classic definition of marketing comprises the issues of product, price, promotion, and sales channel (place). This concept of marketing holds true whether your company is a “product” or a “service” company. In the case of a service company, your “product” is the service provided. To succeed, these marketing issues (product, price, promotion, and place) must be handled so they are effective from the customer’s point of view. In the beginning, these issues are usually a key part of the founder’s vision. When the company succeeds, they often become too complex . . . and too important . . . to be handled part-time, by the chief executive.

Marketing, from this perspective, works over two different frameworks, each important, and fundamentally very different: Product Marketing and Product Management.

shutterstock_381306586In my next post we will look at these two important roles, how they are different as well as understanding the fourth Marketing role and how it all ties together to help your company grow.

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