Marketing has never been more vital for all businesses than what it is today.
To acquire, monetise and keep a customer for an extended period of time in 2022, at a reasonable expense, takes a level of strategic thinking, and a series of well-designed action plans, that just should not be left to whim or fancy.
Differentiating a brand from the current competition, and structuring it so that it can grow into an envisioned future, is the holy grail of modern marketing, but far too often a lack of perspective on the importance of marketing is not uncommon.
It could be that there are far too many people with MBAs and accounting degrees leading companies these days. From their limited financial worldview, marketing is somehow seen as an unnecessary expense item that should be shrunk year-on-year.
They may have had a valid argument during times of economic calm, and whilst working for a state-owned enterprise who's future existence is unnaturally ensured by draconian legislation, but in this reality - standing out as a remarkable, branded outlier is a far better strategy for future success.
As Peter Drucker, the renown American management guru once remarked, there is nothing more important than marketing and innovation in a business - these are the only two functions that generate value; everything else is an expense.
So why then is there not far more of a focus on developing great marketing and brand strategy?
Why is execution on these important strategies done so poorly, even by businesses that have the budget to invest on doing it better?
We suspect that it's because there is an old, pervasive perception of what marketing is, and isn't, that is still lingering.
Many organisations haven't taken the time to interrogate their existing assumptions as to what marketing is and what value it is now creating for brands in 2022.
The stench of past campaigns and projects that may have failed, or where difficult to quantify, still hangs in the corridors of leadership.
What is marketing?
So for the sake of clarity - let's just clear up what marketing is.
Firstly, it would be wrong to put marketing within the scope of one department or function. In our experience a marketing department is where marketing goes to die.
Marketing is everything that a company does, but from the customer's perspective. The outcome of good marketing is a strong and lasting relationship with the right customer.
It's an application philosophy that is owned by the executive team.
There may well be a team that is tasked to produce communication and action the elements of the marketing strategy, but the strategy itself is owned and driven by the CEO. It has to be!
Promotion alone is not marketing; sales alone is not marketing.
Looking at a revenue graph every Monday morning, or asking your friend at the gym if he likes your new ad; are not good ways to judge whether or not your marketing spend is yielding the right results.
Analyse and understand the behaviour of your customers, that's how you know if your marketing strategy is a winner or not.
If that crucial dashboard is pointing in the right direction, then the signs are good that you can also progress to the next part of your long-term plan to unlock the maximum value of your brand.
It's time to have a fresh new discussion about marketing.
It's a business discipline that seems to carry a lot of emotional legacy for many, but one that is vital to hauling out again to ask new questions of what it now has to offer.
Things have changed - marketing's time is now.