Marketing is broken
Marketing no longer sells anything
Our starting point for this book is not to reveal that marketing doesn't work very well, but to try and articulate how we think it can be fixed. Our research has shown that, while everybody seems to be aware of the decline in marketing, few do anything about it. The lack of innovation in marketing is ironic, given its supposed creative core.
When we say 'marketing is broken' what do we mean? Simply, that it no longer does its job. Marketing is orientated around sales. If it doesn't initiate, assist or close a sale then it is failing. And failing it is. The largest single item on most firms' marketing spend is advertising, accounting for between a quarter and three-quarters of budgets. In some industries, marketing accounts for a third of revenues. Yet the link between marketing and consequential revenues is rarely demonstrable. Astonishing.
Marketing is based on notions that are 20 years out of date. The notion that if you put enough messages out there some of them will be heard. The notion that 'building the brand' is money well spent. The notion that people believe what they see and read. Recent initiatives to take advantage of Web 2.0 technologies are merely reactions that apply old techniques to new media. Marketing needs to rethink the messages it is communicating, to whom it's communicated and the methods being used. Many companies are disappointed at the lack of tangible return on their multi-million pounds marketing activities. Advertising remains the largest budget item on most firms' marketing plans. Advertising may be a fixture in a company's annual spend, but management boards are increasingly questioning why this is.
The most recent Brandchannel survey in 2007 illustrates this point well. Four of the world's five largest brands have never conducted any advertising, and the same is true for seven out of the 10 fastest growing brands. There is no proven causal relationship between advertising and financial performance.
There is no strong evidence to suggest that advertising has any effect on sales. The academic research on marketing and return on investment (ROI) is paltry in number and unconvincing in conclusion. There is an awful lot of assertion from the profession itself, and several claims to the link between brand and revenues or stock price. It is true that firms with big revenues and profits usually have well-known brands. Yet brand awareness could equally be an outcome of high sales, rather than a driver of it. Google has never advertised, yet it has become the world's most powerful brand.
There exists in most companies a disconnect between sales and marketing. This manifests itself at an operational level in departmental warfare where, according to marketing guru Philip Kotler, 'sales forces and marketers feud like Capulets and Montagues – with disastrous results'. If you haven't heard Philip's 30-min audio download of Ending the War between Sales and Marketing then we'd suggest you do.
Inside almost every company there lies a gulf between marketing and sales. Rarely is there harmony, at best just an agreement to silently walk past on opposite sides of the corridor. At worst, it can totally paralyse an organisation. Separate territories, with neither able to see the other's viewpoint.
Recent trends in marketing – the move online, campaign management systems, the creation of brand personalities – have done nothing to bring the two divisions closer.
Continuing disillusionment with traditional marketing and its dubious returns are leading many organisations to question how, or if, to continue with their current marketing levels. Marketing executives are under pressure to show results, ones that will impress the management team. There has never been so much interest and activity in marketing performance metrics and dashboards. While this focus on measurement is encouraging, most metrics concentrate on monitoring the effectiveness of the marketing operation, how well it does what it does, rather than the marketing execution. Does marketing result in more leads, more sales? The answer, across industries and geographies, is typically 'We have no idea'.
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