I have a friend who has worked in marketing for more than 20 years, creating demand and proving thought leadership with one campaign after another. But when her company was acquired recently, her new boss called her into his office to discuss her role in the new organization. She phoned me in shock later that night. It seems he told had her that he didn’t “believe” in marketing.
I found this to be a rather curious statement because I don’t think marketing requires “belief.”
For him to say he doesn’t “believe” in something is an inviolable conversation stopper. It’s like saying it’s against his religion, or that he has a First Amendment right not to believe in marketing and it would be nothing short of insubordination to suggest that he alter his belief system.
I will admit that all too often a marketing program is instituted in September, and then sales improve in March without any discernable nexus. Conversely, I’ve seen many junior marketers launch campaigns that were closer to a “Hail Mary” than a strategy.
But I assure you … marketing is more than hokum and magic spells.
I’ll also admit that in graduate school I prostrated myself at the feet of the great god of marketing, Professor Philip Kotler. At the age of 84 he’s still preaching the virtues of marketing at the Kellogg School of Management, but in truth I suspect he’s actually mortal.
Professor Kotler “believes” that demand is not merely a function of price; it’s also a function of promotion. After all, even a low price is too much to pay for something you don’t want or need. It’s essential that a company understand the need of its customers and prospects, and then inform those same customers and prospects of the company value proposition.
I suppose that’s the “belief” part, the “secret sauce”. You see, marketing is more than the execution of a few tactics; it’s an art. What distinguishes Jimi Hendrix from the guy playing his guitar in the subway? What makes Shakespeare stand out among all other writers? What sets Stephen Spielberg apart from any other director? There are intangibles involved in marketing like anything else, but — “believe” it or not — in the hands of a skilled practitioner, marketing can significantly drive demand.
So I don’t think my friend’s new boss is truly skeptical of the existence of marketing. I suspect he’s the victim of prior marketing charlatans who have failed to produce results. He doesn’t “believe” in my friend.
It’s important for marketers to track their success and to try to establish the nexus between their efforts and greater demand. I work for a company that practices what we preach: simplification. Want to know if marketing is working? Simple! We use our own business intelligence software products to track key metrics, from return on marketing spend to marketing pipeline progressed. With these solutions, no longer does it require a leap of faith for a company to believe in their marketing team.