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Mitch Gooze: What is Marketing … Really?




Ask 100 managers and marketing practitioners to define marketing and you’ll get 150 different answers.



Marketing Is Not Promotion.

Say “marketing” to most people and they will immediately think of advertising, trade shows, social media, and other kinds of promotion. Yet promotion is only one of several major marketing areas. 

In a comprehensive model of marketing/sales, marketing will include several major tactical areas and a major strategic (or planning) area. Promotion, which overlaps with sales, is but one of these areas; and, while requiring considerable talent to do effectively, it is currently the best understood of all of them. Lack of effective promotional know-how is not usually the problem!

While this is probably the most common misperception, as befits a function with no commonly agreed-upon definition, marketing is often confused with other things, also. To wit:

Marketing Is Not An Art Form.

(Ninety percent of marketing consists of known, predictable activities.) Of course, as in many other professions, ten percent of marketing depends on the originality and insight of its practitioners. In this respect, marketing is like any other professional activity. For example, in the practice of medicine, doctors spend

most of their time on routine tasks such as interviewing patients, reading x-rays, performing blood tests, and so on. Performing these routine tasks completely and correctly — according to well-established process guidelines — allows doctors to profitably use the small portion of their time devoted to the non-routine, insight-requiring tasks of diagnosis and treatment selection.

Routine marketing activities include market research, competitive analysis, project management, promotion, and so on. These and other routine13marketing activities provide marketing professionals with the “raw material” for the other ten percent of their activities that do require their talent, insight, and experience — analysis and decision-making. The failure of so-called marketing planning software to provide real value — to the extent that it addresses this front-end of marketing sufficiently, which is usually not the case — is that it cannot address that last ten percent.

Marketing Is Not Sales.

Marketing and sales are integrated and related, but they are different. They compose the single, integrated corporate function of marketing/sales; but, although they overlap, they are distinct functions. Regarding them as the same thing causes a plethora of problems. Marketing is concerned first with selecting and understanding the customers and what those customers value, while sales is primarily concerned with how customers want to buy. From a time-frame perspective, marketing consists of both operational and strategic activities, while sales is more of an operational, quarter-to-quarter function. Marketing horizons may look forward two, five, or even more years, while sales horizons seldom exceed one year.

Marketing Is Not The “Four P’s.”

In Basic Marketing, the classic introductory text, which has influenced generations of business students, E. Jerome McCarthy came up with the term the “Four P’s” — product, place, price and promotion — as a way to remember the basic elements of the marketing mix. He never intended this term, or its components,to be a complete description of the entire marketing function. Nevertheless, catchy phrases have great appeal. Today, many in management still believe that the “Four P’s” are all there is to marketing.

The disadvantages of having no accepted definition of marketing are legion. And, what’s worse, they permeate the entire enterprise. Anyone who has spent even a little time in an organizational setting will recognize the following problems. Each of them can be traced to the lack of a useful, comprehensive definition of marketing.

  1. Marketing seems to change with every new regime.
  2. There is a new definition of marketing every time the company gets in trouble.
  3. There is no consistency over time or across products.
  4. Each new product introduction or market entry requires management to spend countless hours figuring out what the marketing will be this time.
  5. The ability to justify resources doesn’t exist.
  6. Marketing tends to lurch from one crisis to another.
  7. Marketing is hardly a smoothly running ship.
  8. There are fatal delays in decision-making.
  9. Marketing is organized in a seemingly random fashion.
  10. There are no objective criteria for measuring the effectiveness of marketing.

Management is usually aware of the crisis in marketing, but, without a useful, accepted definition of the function, they are at a loss to do much about it. The marketing situation of most companies today can be likened to a house constructed without a frame. Imagine a house built without any (or very few) studs, joists, and beams, with the plasterboard panels tacked only to each other and jerry-rigged in place. Such a house would be extremely fragile and constantly in need of repair. Each little jolt would destroy entire sections of it. Is it advisable for the owners to spend their time and money on surface repairs such as new windows (branding) and new bath fixtures (integrated marketing)? Or is it not a more intelligent course of action to first erect a sturdy frame for the house? Unfortunately, in their desire for a quick-fix, too many otherwise intelligent people erect their marketing structure on woefully inadequate designs.

Your company already creates value — or it wouldn’t be in business. But merely creating value is yesterday’s game. The locus of competition is now moving to accelerating the rate of value creation, or to value acceleration. The role of marketing is to drive the understanding of what is valuable. This creates a useful, actionable definition for marketing; Aligning the capabilities of your company with the current and future needs of your customers.

Who is Mitch Gooze?

A recognized expert in marketing, innovation and leadership, strategic positioning, and customer relationships, Mitch Goozé has addressed groups throughout the world, winning high ratings for his energetic presentation style and results oriented approach.

He is an experienced general manager and leader with operating experience in the high technology and consumer products industries. He has experience running divisions of large companies, as well as being CEO of mid-sized companies. Mr. Goozé was president of Teledyne Components, a division of Teledyne, Inc. for five years.

You can always learn more about Mitch at his website or read what he is thinking on his blog!

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