As a pan-European organisation, we have a position on marketing and what we think it constitutes across Europe. But when it comes to a pan-European consensus, we need to decide whether or not we’re all talking about the same thing.
Why is this important?
In recent years, we’ve borne witness to the slow erosion of the role of marketing in some businesses, and marketing associations need to understand why this is the case, if they are to fight the marketing corner.
The European Marketing Confederation stands up for marketing, sales and communications and the important role that they play both within business, and at the Board table. But some parts of what we do have suffered a bit of an image problem, and we need to understand why.
The root of the problem can be found in the recession.
When the corporate purse strings tightened, one of the first things to face the chop was often the marketing budget. In many businesses, short-term thinking led to the loss of key marketing personnel and even whole teams, as businesses reacted to the recession with cost cutting exercises.
This was due, in part, to the misunderstanding at Board level, of marketing and the vital role it plays in a business – particularly to help it through tough times.
However, we can’t blame the recession for everything! There is also an historic problem with the way that marketing is understood, particularly by smaller businesses.
The culture and mindset of smaller organisations which often carry out their own marketing in-house, has led to a misunderstanding and cross over between HR, other functions and marketing.
It would seem that nobody really knows what marketing is and does anymore.
In some cases, the rise of digital has seen a further fragmentation of responsibilities – particularly worrisome when it forms such a vital part of the new business mix for almost every sector.
This leads to some uncertainty for marketing associations who may be questioning who their current members are. Are they really only marketers and, if not, do they need to broaden their focus in order to attract and retain their members?
In a world of CEOs and entrepreneurs who grow their businesses quickly, we need to ensure that our marketing associations provide the tools and resources necessary to aid speed of change and progression. As professional bodies for marketing, we are ideally placed to meet this challenge for our members.
In order to do this, we need to help businesses understand that marketing is more a competence, than a job role – one which needs strategic, operational and tactical input.
Marketing is not a function, it’s part of everyone’s profession and should permeate throughout every organisation, from an invoice to a strategy.
Does this mean that we need a better description of who we are and what we stand for? Do we need to better delineate between where marketing and communications starts and ends? Perhaps.
And for the smaller organisations doing good marketing already without knowing it, let’s engage better with them and help them to continue and grow their marketing expertise.
We need to stand up for marketing and tell our business communities why it matters not only to have marketers within their business, but how and why it permeates every single role.