Marketing Departments 2012 - A Centre for Business Ideas
01 June 2012
So much has changed over the last 25 years – both business and consumers have changed significantly – especially in their expecations of brands. Yet for the most part, the structure and the role of the marketing department has essentially stayed the same.
This is no longer sustainable or relevant. Powerful brands can
only be born and sustained as a result of marketing departments
that are connected and engaged with consumers, as well as other
business functions and partners. To achieve this, organisations and
marketers must look at re-structuring the role and function of
It is important that business becomes 'more human' in the way it
relates to customers as required by our new social context -
it is the core task of marketing in the next decade to help
business' achieve this. In order to make this a reality,
marketing departments need to make some fundamental shifts.
- Move away from one-way communication with consumers to
conversation and dialogue. Most marketing departments still try to
control the message rather than engaging consumers in conversation.
This is because dialogue requires courage and responsiveness on
behalf of the organisation - a factor that is often lacking.
Therefore, a key challenge in allowing marketing departments to
shift from message output to dialogue is to re-educate management
teams about their expectations of marketing.
For example: management teams need to trust that it's okay to
facilitate a voice for consumers even if what they say about the
organisation isn't always positive. Marketing departments must
convince management teams that the very action of 'engagement' from
the organisation will, in itself, build trust and relationships
with consumers - as it does with one-on-one relationships between
- Become smarter by listening constantly to consumers across all
touch points. The concept of formal research, conducted over
months and presented on an annual basis is outdated. Today's
marketers must gather information far more organically and in
real-time to get an accurate pulse of the market.
For example: Lynx noticed consumers were capturing memories of a
single event such as a 'girls' night out' on a variety of
platforms, using various media tools. So they tapped into this and
launched a stream mobile app that captures and records videos,
pictures, texts, tweets, check-in and status updates made by a
group of friends, to produce an automatic electronic scrapbook of
It is important to note that the key was not to develop the app
but to observe the consumer behaviour of capturing and sharing
memories and thoughts instantly. This allowed for the creation of a
relevant product to meet the need.
This new role for marketing, i.e. the capacity to analyse and
deduce customer behaviour in real-time can deliver a series of
- Sharing learning and insights with others in the
organisation to solve consumer problems. This means that
analysing and deducing patterns from consumer behaviour can offer
not only a marketing advantage but contribute to the profitability
of the core business.
- Ignite new ideas to be shared and refined together with
consumers. Therefore 'the consumer' is no longer a test
subject (focus groups locked in a room) but a partner and
co-creator in fulfilling new and evolving needs .
- Moving beyond inevitable organisational silos to
connect formally and informally with other functions in the
business, as well as partners. Most marketing departments
gripe about the fact that they're not close enough to the business
- but these days, businesses that maintain a linear approach, where
marketing is at the end of the chain will lose competitive
advantage. Since the ability to offer consumers choice has become
more critical - it is the market that will dictate future product
development and not the company. Therefore, intelligent businesses
will enable the marketing function to become embedded in every
aspect of the business from strategy to product development and
distribution, in order to facilitate sharp responsiveness to
customer behaviour. This will deliver competitive advantage; allow
co-creation of new products with the market itself and enable
companies to develop content-rich strategies to feed the consumer's
increasing need for timely, relevant and compelling content.
Today's marketing department is not a channel or even a centre
for strategy, but a hub through which real conversations with
consumers are held and through this, a place where the business can
create more relevant, engaging ideas, services and products. This
is the basis for real relationships with customers.