Wednesday, December 29, 2010

How Do You Know if Someone Really Doesn't Understand Marketing?

Those of us who have been around for a long time – and yes I am one of you - think we have seen and heard it all when it comes to marketing. So I began following this discussion on LinkedIn answering the question – How do you know when someone really doesn’t understand marketing?

The discussion is on Marketing Executive Networking Group, MENG, which you can join on LinkedIn.

The person who started it and those who chimed in at least early on, are the marketing veterans. These are the- marketers who’ve been doing it since the 60s and 70s – mostly men – and those who’ve experienced and survived through a huge transformation on the Internet and in the social media era. They’ve also watched the painful death of advertising as we once knew it.

When I first started out in journalism covering marketing and advertising for everyone ranging from Adweek to the New York Times, most media people understood advertising on a basic level but marketing was just being recognized as an important topic to cover.

In the mid-80s The Wall Street Journal started a marketing column, followed by Business Week, Forbes and many others. But I know for me I didn’t really understand marketing until I started doing it. And there’s still a lot I don’t know.


So here’s the discussion: How do you know if someone really understands marketing? Most of the answers are what do they not understand. So here you go:

They are Obsessed with Data:

They think marketing has a lot to do with math and not just creative.
They forget that marketing is about listening to the consumer via interviews, statistical analysis, and other metrics.
They can't connect their activities to business results.

They Are Way too Full of Themselves

They use a lot of buzz words and are not able to articulate the details of your work.
Their eyes narrow and they get suspicious when one begins to talk about integrated programs.
They have not changed with the times.
They suffer from Entrepreneur's Syndrome, the belief that because they founded the enterprise, no matter how large it has grown, they must continue to be personally involved in every aspect of its operation. Some can be educated enough to work with you. Others you have to walk away from.

Women have started chiming in now. Here are some of their stories. They don't know marketing when:

They Think They Can Change Elements without Considering the Mix


One woman tells us, "I had a new director walk into a first round logo meeting with our chosen agency. He brought his own logos in color. Yikes! He walked to the front of the room pulled out his soap box and began telling the group what the logo should be and why. Did I mention we had the agency run a branding session? We had developed a positioning statement and the group was in consensus and ready to work on logo development?"

They Don’t Understand Their Target Audiences

They begin using words interchangeably such as marketing, sales, promotion, PR, publicity, etc ... without regard to context.
They dislike visiting plants, stores or talking to customers.
They don’t believe in integrated marketing – which has some new equally innocuous names - connected marketing and compound marketing were mentioned.
They take the attitude if it breathes, it's a customer.

They Don’t Have a Marketing Strategy

They want to do marketing but are not willing to work on strategy first.
They talk about the Industrial Era "4 Ps" of marketing which according to the marketers should now be seven, or still four. Consensus was the 4Ps are only valid if you re-interpret them in terms of how they should be applied in the Internet-based marketplace.

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