Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Future of Marketing

I recently read a white paper from CIM (Chartered Institute of Marketing, UK) titled; The Future of Marketing – Marketing's Decline: a Wild Exaggeration? (research completed by Aston Business School).

Extract from CIM introduction:
The Paper argues that marketing can be hampered by short-term thinking by the business and a lack of accountability, creativity and courage on the part of marketers themselves. The Paper shows that sometimes marketers are their own worst enemy, failing to account for their often considerable budgets, falling back on dull and uninspiring campaigns, and floundering when questioned on the financial impact of their strategies.
[end of extract]

It's interesting to observe how the role of marketing is also scrutinized during challenging times, and to think (in the future) what key roles marketing can play in enhancing business competitive strategy and transforming organization growth successfully.

I believe a lot of people (and company organization structures) still has the mindset that marketing equals sales! Despite the fact that every professional marketing course starts with the fundamental topic on marketing concept (you may recall the famous “sales is only the tip of the iceberg…”). While marketing has been around in the local academic architecture for a while, why is it that people still maintain that old mindset, or how do we explain the current less-exciting growth rate in student registrations for marketing these days?

The white paper points out some severe marketing weaknesses based on UK survey (with my own categories below):

1) Credibility: Marketing directors as unaccountable, untouchable, slippery and expensive.

2) Competence: Only 20% of senior marketers believe marketing is truly effective, 12% think the role of marketing is clearly articulated in their organization.

3) Effectiveness: Chief executives cannot find evidence of the added value of marketing.

These were the survey results from matured, highly developed companies that truly adopted the marketing function (in the deepest and fullest sense), meaning they’ve been there; done it; preach it and now go through a snag. How about companies where marketing is still in infancy stage? I believe some major weaknesses, or hurdles for marketing function in Malaysia can be summarized as:

1) Corporate shortsightedness: Just look at the local job listings and you’ll find marketing roles basically doing sales or customer service! No wonder our graduate students stay away from marketing courses if they want to avoid a career in selling (a career in sales/selling is not actually bad as most may perceive it, and I would like to cover professional selling in another discussion). Marketing jobs today covers everything except marketing strategy, product planning and other real strategic roles that marketer's should be doing.

2) Where is marketing Business Process Outsourcing (BPO)?: Almost every process is outsourced; finance, manufacturing, business operations, sales! But marketing functions are usually controlled by the corporate marketing team in headquarters. Now, coupled with the earlier point, what are the professional marketing opportunities available in Malaysia? So, how can we change this?

3) Lack of publicity or standard: The image of professional marketing needs to be improved. Marketing executives needs to be doing marketing. I saw an interesting advertisement from CFP with a clown with a scalpel attempting a surgery. The tagline: Certified or Certifiable? The CIM Chartered Marketer is a wonderful way to distinctively separate professional marketers. Wouldn’t it be great if we also had standard criteria in the job scope or KPI (Key Performance Indices) to meet before someone can hold the title Marketing Director?

The white paper also serves as a good alarm clock/history lesson/learning curve for companies pursuing to improve their marketing function. While for those still undecided (on the fence), the benefits definitely outweigh the weaknesses if you implement your marketing function with the following focus:

1) Marketer are particularly (still) respected for their ability to systematically measure customer satisfaction (65%)

2) Marketers (still) monitor the ability to serve customers (52%)

3) Marketers (still) promote customer needs within the firm (65%)

With this blog, I hope to change the perception of marketing in Malaysia, and to promote a higher degree of buzz and excitement for professional marketing. I am dedicating this blog entirely to discuss issues on MARKETING, including books, theories, and trends and about anything else (on Marketing).

On our local newsstands, I can only find 1 magazine on marketing (Marketingmagazine
http://www.marketingmagazine.com.my/). I’m interested to know their readership rate (as a means to judge the interest in marketing among Malaysian readers). Clearly, Malaysian marketers need to collaborate, and step up their creativity, courage and efforts in driving this profession to the next level. The global market space is rapidly growing and evolving, and we need high level, professional marketing competency to maintain competitive advantage.

About the White Paper: What is the future of marketing?
Free to members, The Chartered Institute of Marketing’s White Paper, The Future of Marketing, will be discussed on 1 September 2009 in Birmingham. The paper is the result of research completed for The Institute by Aston Business School
To request for a copy from CIM

About me (and why I keep mentioning CIM): I hold a CIM PostGraduate Diploma. I believe, and recognize CIM’s efforts in representing the profession, being the voice of marketing, setting (new) standards within the industry and being the first port of call for marketing information, knowledge and insight.

To participate in enhancing the role of marketing, share your thoughts, ideas, suggestions in this blog. Thanks!

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