It’s Time to Rethink Your Marketing Department

Disney Org Chart (classic)

Disney Org Chart (classic) (Photo credit: shadowstorm)

Sales & Marketing Director,  Marketing Lead, Marketing Representative, In-store Marketing Associate, Online Marketing Specialist, Catering & Marketing Coordinator, Operations & Marketing Administrator

When you read these position titles, it becomes apparent that some businesses are having a bit of difficulty deciding which department their marketing people belong in, or where in the org chart they should reside.

Sales and Marketing have long been bunk-mates with the ideology that marketing’s purpose was to drive sales, but now with more focus being shifted to content marketing and social media, folks are starting to look over towards the customer service department to see if they might not look better in that area.  Do we need separate marketing departments? Is online marketing different from offline marketing? Should we have a social media marketing person in addition to our in-store marketing person? Do they report to the same person then or are they that different from each other?

What is This ˈmär-kə-tiŋof Which You Speak?

In order to know where they fit in, we first need to know what they do; so to do that, let’s look at some definitions.

Approved by the American Marketing Association Board of Directors – Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.

Philip Kotler  – Marketing is the set of human activities directed at facilitating and consummating exchanges.

Peter Drucker – The aim of Marketing is to know and understand the customer so well that the product or service fits him (her/it) and sells itself.

John Jantsch (Duct Tape Marketing) – Marketing is getting someone who has a need – to know, like and trust you.

Seth Godin – Marketing is the art of telling a story that resonates with your audience and then spreads.
(implied – your story must be true and therefore your product must be worthy of the story)

4 people who are all considered experts in their specific areas with varying ideas on the purpose and definition of what the Marketing Department does. One thing that seems synonymous throughout however, is the fact that something is shared or changes hands and marketing is what you do to try to make sure that this sharing is done with you.

My personal definition of marketing is: Any action or statement that can affect the perception of your brand in the mind of the public.

It’s All Part of the Plan…More or Less.

My reason for phrasing it this way is because, as true as the definitions from the others may be, marketing isn’t always intentional. As we see all too often, there are stories of how someone working for a brand who has gone and done something that affects the brands perception adversely.

Chances are, as in the case of Kenneth Cole’s Twitter faux pas, the negative perception that resulted wasn’t planned. Or in the case of Apple’s iPhone 4 antennagate, or the SunChips noisy bag debacle, I’m assuming that nobody in the marketing department expected that the perception of their company would be affected adversely by these design issues. How about the human resources nightmare of the Dominos employees Youtube prank that made it tough on the entire brand.

It seems that whether it’s financial issues as in the Enron audits, criminal activities as in the News of the World phone hacking or the shortcuts taken by BP that helped lead to a large oil spill; the marketing department are called in whenever the company needs to improve their perception after a stumble regardless of which department the error emanated from. This would suggest to me that marketing really has a part to play in every department.

Further to his definition above, Seth Godin has also stated in his blog post What Every Good Marketer Knows (and I paraphrase) Marketing begins before the product is created, Marketing is the way your people answer the phone, the typesetting on your bills and your returns
policy. Marketing is not an emergency. It’s a planned, thoughtful exercise that started a long time ago and doesn’t end until you’re done.

A Finger in Everybody’s Pie

I  believe what he is saying is, marketing should be part of every faction of your business, not just the sales, advertising and PR areas. Whether you learned the 4 P’s, or now some call it the 4 C’s, it was implied that Marketing had a hand in everything and somehow we’ve lost that. The Marketing Department got it’s own office and was rarely interacted with because they were the “weird” ones. Then when times  are tough, they’re usually one of the first budgets to get “cut” (don’t get me started on the “I have no marketing budget so I can’t grow my business, I can’t grow my business because I have no marketing budget” song and dance) and now we’re separating them into different teams due to the new marketing avenues that have been created.

Marketing is as Marketing Does

Marketing is Marketing. Be it online, offline, in-store, out of home, word of mouth, sales pitch, tutorial video, automated telephone messaging, customer service and return policies, price tags and receipts, assembly instructions, employee addresses and press releases, product and packaging design, business cards and thank you cards, it’s all marketing.

So where does Marketing belong? I once saw that someone created an org chart with one circle in the middle and many spokes out from there and guess where Marketing was? Right smack dab in the middle! And in a way, I agree. If you prefer to have a more traditional org chart that looks more like a tree with a number of boxes under the “All Supreme Leader” at the top, draw a circle around your entire tree and call it Marketing so that it can be all encompassing and touch every department you have at your organization, because whether you like it or not, Marketing can/does/will touch each department in one way or another at one time or another.

To take it one step further, either have a marketing person in every department or ensure that every employee is thinking like a marketer!

Where does your Marketing Department fit in? Let us know in the comments below.

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