By M. Dana Baldwin
Marketing, done well, is a vital cog in many companies' strategies. Marketing performs many functions which are some of the keys to success over time. Good marketing helps pave the way for good sales. Effective marketing can be one of the leading factors in successful innovations and product or service enhancements.
Marketing can also be one of the first expenditures cut when times get tough. But the real question is: Is that the right strategy for your company? Let's look at the benefits of keeping and even improving your marketing efforts versus the long term effects of lowering or even eliminating your marketing investments for a period of time.
The word investments is used deliberately, because there can be many long term benefits to properly funding and staffing an effective marketing department. First let's define how we see marketing. Marketing has a long lead time view, not the short term approach of sales. Sales is concerned with this week's or this month's or this quarter's orders. Marketing is concerned with building the company's reputation in the market place. Marketing is usually tasked with building up the image and increasing the value and the recognition of the company and the brand, over time.
Marketing can be tasked with identifying and defining new products or services that fit the strategic competencies of the company. Marketing can also be charged with developing new markets for existing products or services. These new markets can be new territories, new channels or outlets, new industries which can use existing products or services, or even new applications for these same existing products or services.
All of the items listed above are consistent with, and integral to, the usual definition of marketing, marketing departments or staffs and the normal marketing function we have all seen as a part of many companies for years.
In the past, many considered marketing a necessary evil, or at least slightly superfluous to the actual running of the company. Today, however, marketing is often being challenged to go further, to contribute more directly to the company's actual results. Well run marketing departments are more directly involved in the operation and in setting the direction of the company than ever before.
Marketing can contribute directly to the course and direction of the company, as a part of the strategic planning team. Marketing can assess where markets, customers and competitors may be heading in the future. Their input can have a major influence on strategies selected by the strategic planning team.
Marketing should be a part of any innovation efforts a company may have. The guidance of effective marketing should help the company minimize unproductive efforts in deciding what new products or services to pursue, and to help focus the limited resources, time, people and money, toward those innovations which will likely bring sales and profits to the company.
The analysis of the worth of an effective marketing group within a company should be based on all the factors above, culminating in an assessment of how profitable the company is based on how much marketing has contributed to the success of the company.
M. Dana Baldwin is a Consultant with Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc. He can be reached by email at:
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