All Marketing is a Con...

“All marketing is a con…”

I came across this comment recently following an article I read recently. What struck me, and stayed with me, is how this comment sparked many comments slamming the ethics and value of marketing. Had I read far enough, I’m quite sure that marketing would have been blamed for the economic crisis of 2008/2009, the Nashville floods, BP’s disaster in the Gulf, and volcanic ash clouds. As a marketing ‘lifer’ I’m more than accustomed to marketing taking a beating as less important than other functions. As such, I wasn’t really thrown by the initial description of marketing as a con, nor did I see it as inspiration for a blog post. Reality is reality. A is A. Deal with it and move on.

However, recent developments in a few organizations I know well have caused me to wonder, just how DOES marketing stand up against other functions in B2B organizations. Two organizations I considered for this post recently made a shift, separating product management and product marketing out from the communications related aspects of marketing. Both shops are multi-million dollar technology concerns, yet Organization A had developed a history of capital “M” marketing. Marketing in the strategic sense, helping to chart and execute on the vision of the company. Organization B has never been particularly open to marketing having a seat at the table, though it is incredibly savvy, employing the latest and greatest in marketing communications technology and tactics. With these two seemingly different organizations making very similar reorganizations, I began to consider how our industry is working to tighten the bonds between departments and engage its peers within organizations.

This week, the Business Marketing Association (BMA) kicks-off its annual conference aptly named "Engage!" A quick review of the agenda, with each session playing off the Engage theme (Engage Your Customers, Engage Industry Analysts, Engage Online Media….you get the point), yields a grand total of NONE that are dedicated to building relationships with internal audiences. The lone exception out of dozens is the Engage Sales session, which seems more focused on reinforcing the point that marketing should lead and sales should follow.

We have to educate, err….Engage our customers, markets and influencers. We really do. But as marketers, we owe it to ourselves, our teams, budgets and our profession to also educate our colleagues on what we do and the value we add. Otherwise, we’ll be just as trivialized as the anonymous poster who sparked this entry.


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