Does Marketing Get No Respect?

How Marketing Can Drive More Customers, Better Experiences and Great Products

Marketing has a marketing problem.
Ask most people to define what marketing is, and the answer will almost always come down to some form of a definition that is more closely related to advertising.

Not that there is anything wrong with advertising. Advertising is an effective technique for any business that can afford it. And it should be part of every large brand’s marketing mix.

But when I attended university, and took that Introduction to Marketing course, I remember something about 4 Ps. Yes Promotion was one. But there was also Product, Price and Place.

Look under the covers of the marketing budget inside many brands, and what you will see supports the conventional wisdom that marketing is mostly all promotion based on the percentage of the budget allocated to advertising.

Getting the message out.
To put it another way, the job of most of us in marketing has been to simply get a message out. Reach and frequency. Success in this traditional approach to marketing is simple and binary. Did you maximize the budget for reach and frequency? Yes. Or no.

There are analytics to show which demographics, and day parts, and now also which devices are being reached. And there is aided and unaided awareness done pre- and post. And so we count what we can. All the while knowing that, to quote the famous saying “I know half of my advertising is effective. I just don’t know which half.”

And we were basically happy with this approach for decades.

Then the world changed. 
The commercial web browser is now more than 20 years old. In the early days, corporate brochures were translated into corporate websites. Traditional advertising was translated into banner ads where click through rates were as high as 20% or more. And search engines became a gateway for anyone, anywhere, to access all the information you could ever want, as long as you had a computer with internet access.

Social media came along around 12 years ago to allow us to connect with people who had similar interests. And we started to see smartphones with enough power to deliver all the content of the internet, any time and anywhere.

We are all publishers.
Suddenly, we all became publishers. Consumers didn’t need to rely on media companies for the news or brands for product information. The digital, social, mobile web provided the infrastructure to allow us to share an increasing amount of content with our connections, and open to anyone in the world.

And with every piece of information published, there is an equal amount of data available: likes, shares, views, time spent, subscriptions, conversions, purchases, referrals, inbound links, outbound clicks, and much more.

The battle for customer attention.
Brands are now faced with a battle for customer attention unlike anything we have ever seen. Advertising is what consumers tune out. It’s the noise we make every effort to avoid.

Content is the new game for marketers as we seek to attract audiences vs. buy them. Entire departments, agencies and technologies are being formed to handle all the content that goes out and the data that moves across the web.

Inside some businesses, Marketers get no respect. They get big budgets to hire expensive agencies who make massive media buys. Or they negotiate the contracts to put the logo on a stadium.

Marketing is a conversation.
But leading organizations see the digital, social, mobile world as a conversation. They understand that marketing has always been about the conversation – a two-way dialogue between the business and the consumer. And now, technology allows that conversation to happen in real-time.

Successful digital brands look more like new age publishers. They have managing editors, web designers, beat journalists, editorial departments, video producers, social media community managers and for some brave brands, even comedy writers.

They use the latest technology and content platforms to do more than just reach and frequency. The content game is continuous, not campaign-based. They understand that behind every like, tweet and purchase is a person. And they seek to meet the information and entertainment needs of their audience. In a human way. With great storytelling techniques typically found in a Hollywood studio.

Marketing that gets respect.
This is a marketing organization that does not just command respect, but leads the business.

The modern marketing approach puts customers at the center of everything they do. They drive a re-structuring of the entire way the business thinks and acts. Some have called this “extreme customer-centricity” where the customer (in the form of data, ideas and insights) defines the business plan. Nothing is created unless it serves a customer need.

All with the belief that serving customers, serves the business.

This in turn increases innovation and experimentation. The business iterates, tests and optimizes everything it does. Products become better. Employees become engaged in a feeling of attachment to the business’ higher mission: to help customers solve a problem.

Great products, developed by engaged employees, delivered over amazing customer experiences, creating increasingly demand by more customers who buy more.

This is the promise of the marketing-led company in today’s digital and collaborative economy.

The CMO helps define the customer-centric company mission. His team and strategy acts as the arbiter of customer insights with amazing experiences across all customer touch points. Product innovation moves faster. Employee engagement goes up and maybe finally, marketing gets some respect.

What kind of marketer are you?
What type of brand are you? And which type of brand do you want to buy from?

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This article originally appeared on

Michael Brenner  is a Top CMO, Content Marketing and Digital Marketing Influencer, an international keynote speaker, author of "Mean People Suck" and "The Content Formula" and he is the CEO and Founder of Marketing Insider Group, a leading Content Marketing Agency . He has worked in leadership positions in sales and marketing for global brands like SAP and Nielsen, as well as for thriving startups. Today, Michael helps build successful content marketing programs for leading brands and startups alike. Subscribe here for regular updates.

4 thoughts on “Does Marketing Get No Respect?

  1. Hi Michael,

    Marketing is a conversation indeed! If you open up a 2 way street you will prosper, listening to your customers and serving them in the best way possible.

    Super points all around!


  2. Spot on Mike! A continuous and open dialogue with customers can definitely help sharpen message, improve targeting and drive greater RoI. However to achieve this, an organization has to demonstrate complete dialogue-based/content marketing. A lot of organizations talk about doing content marketing, but the administration/ release is still in the form of campaigns. A dialogue is not bound by time, campaigns are.

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