The Deconstruction of Marketing

Seems to me these days “Marketing” is being deconstructed into a bunch of pieces.  When I was coming up through the ranks, Marketing included Customer Service plus all the stuff now called CRM, Customer Experience, and all the related ideas.  The person in charge of Marketing was in charge of all these things.  It made so much sense to manage a business this way, because to control your fate as a Marketer, you had to control or at least influence all the customer touchpoints.  So why are these responsibilities being split off into little sub-cultures today?

The answer is they’re not really; that’s just the way it looks to me, because every industry I worked in for 25 years was rich with customer data and we used that data to prove why it made so much sense for Marketing to be in charge of all these aspects of the company interface with the customer.  We proved time and time again that by exerting cross-silo influence where the customer was involved, Marketing could generate much improved profitability.  Every Marketing program worked even harder towards generating profits when Marketing got all the silos aligned.

So I guess it just looks to me (and some other data-driven Marketing folks) like these functions are being split out of Marketing.  The reality is that many companies never had any of these data-driven functions before, and when they start getting access to customer data, they created these areas as new entities.  The question: why not create them under Marketing?  This approach sure would have saved a lot of trouble in CRM, for example. 

And I suspect the answer is the Marketing folks took one look at this new data-driven world with the associated need to have a basic understanding of technology issues, and said, “No thanks, I’ll stick to Advertising and PR”.  And as Marketers let go of / failed to capture control of these key operational touchpoints with the customer, they essentially devolved Marketing from a strategic C-Level force into “MarCom”.

And that’s a real shame.  This splintering of Marketing Management by technological issues is a waste of time at best and a long term problem at worst.  Ultimately, after we go through all this CRM and Chief Experience Officer stuff and whatever else you want to call it (seems like a new name every day), people will realize that all of this belongs in Marketing.  And then we’ll just need some brave Marketing folks who think they can handle it to step up to the plate and really make it work.  If you’re a mid-level MarCom person and want to start preparing for this transition, start making some friends in Finance, Technology, and Customer Service.  Find out what it is that keeps them awake at night, and think about how Marketing could help solve their problems.

And to jump-start your brain towards making Marketing decisions based on customer data rather than using nameless, faceless GRP’s, try taking a look at the business side of web analytics.  You’ll be amazed at how much of it transfers directly to Data-based / CRM / Customer Experience Marketing.  Why?  Because the web analytics community has decided best practices require a cross-functional team approach with a focus on Customer Experience and a requirement to examine the Financial implications of actions taken.  Web analytics teams are a functioning microcosm of what Marketing used to be, and what it should be in the future.

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3 thoughts on “The Deconstruction of Marketing

  1. Excellent post.
    This sums what has happened to Marketing over the years. Unfortunately, it seems that most of the top management posts in Marketing are being staffed with folks that have very limited knowledge of either analytics or operations. As a result the three areas that Marketing should own (advertisement/sales, customer care, product development/management) are now taken apart and managed by nearly silo’ed departments.

  2. Excellent analysis of whats happening at the clients’ side. We have been evangalising customer data and customer intelligence driven marketing programmes in India for the last 7 years. Over the years we have been working with leading Tans-national as well as larger Indian companies and our experience has been similar. Though our interactions have been with the marketing team, references to “Data”, “databases”, “analytics”, “mining” are seen to be in the “technlogy domain” and “not for me”. Though things have been changing, and quite rapidly we have experienced the worst.

  3. I believe that in order to properly deconstruct/decompose marketing, one also needs to look at the function in terms of it’s fit within the culture of an organization.

    I support the well articluated position that “The most successful customer/marketing analytics programs gets analytics out of the cubicle and into the boardroom.”.

    However, given my past experience of introducing and leading analytics functions at 3 large, national companies in the communications, telecommunications and retail industries, I am of the opinion that the existance of traditional marketing and analytics sub-cultures within a company’s overall culture is wherein lies the challenge.

    My past experience suggests to me that a real dichotomy still exists between these two sub-cultures, which has made their mutual co-existance and integration an issue and a challenge.

    In all three cases, analytics was believed to have had senior management buy-in and support. However, when the “rubber hit the road”, it became obvious that buy-in and support was supplanted by the true philosophical nature and operational focus of these businesses. Analytics or Analytical CRM, took a back seat to other traditional business functions, as budget for people, process and technology was concerned, and was also challenged on a daily basis to prove its existence.

    I still struggle with this business reality as I attempt to decompose the inherent sub-cultural idiosyncracies, conventions and tendancies in order to build an approach that would result in a better understanding by business stakeholders and lead to a successful integration.

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