Recently I worked with two very successful businesses, and in both cases, they hired me because they said they "just didn’t get marketing” and had to do something about it.
Mind you, both of these businesses were very profitable, employed hundreds of people and enjoyed very strong positions in their industry. But for both of these companies, the source of their anxiety was that they had each somehow grown phenomenally successful despite the absence of a traditional marketing department or a chief marketing officer. So I had to ask myself, is it possible they just don’t recognize what marketing is?
I'm seeing this more and more often—businesses that organically or otherwise recognize that everything they do is marketing but have a hard time defining it as such, which just might be the secret to their success.
Marketing in the 21st Century
Because I’m a marketing person, it should come as no surprise to anyone what I’ve been saying for years: Every business is a marketing business. And when you try to corral your marketing functions into just one department or under just one umbrella, you unintentionally defuse, rather than amplify, the impact that every department has on your customers' journeys.
One of the businesses I was working with, a software company, had developed a field sales team and process as well as a critically important service and implementation team. While they didn't define what these teams did as marketing, these two departments contributed mightily to the company's growth and success.
The part that was missing was the role of audience development. No one owned the vital aspect of creating media that could be shared to build thought leadership. The CEO, as is often the case, came the closest to filling this role when he wasn’t writing code or handling other non-essential issues (and by that I mean taking out the trash and getting the printer to work).
To help them out, we recommended that they create a position that took control of content, media and thought leadership in the form of stakeholder audience development. This employee would more formally direct the CEO’s contributions and build awareness with user groups as well as prospective clients. The key to making this structure work would be to tie the audience development, sales and service together to form a unified marketing integration function.
While some of this may just seem like semantics, I believe that moving marketing as a function into each of these areas highlighted the reality that marketing is everyone’s job. And when you realize that everyone is in marketing, you can begin to create company-wide training that incorporates this belief and instills a culture of marketing throughout every function.
You can also begin to hold all-hands marketing planning and training sessions. You can help everyone understand how to contribute to the brand. You can enlist the entire team in the recruitment of leads. Everyone in the organization can confidently tell anyone who will listen who your ideal client is and why they should hire you.
In the healthiest of brands, a culture of marketing comes from first understanding with perfect clarity what you do that is remarkable and then driving that through every function in the business. Do that, and marketing will naturally become everyone’s job.
John Jantsch is a marketing consultant, speaker and the author of Duct Tape Marketing, Duct Tape Selling, The Commitment Engine and The Referral Engine. He's also the founder of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network.
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