I’ve been working in marketing for a few years. I’ve been exposed to it for far longer, through years of internships and courses in this Writing/Media/Marketing trajectory I’m on.
And one thing I’ve recently learnt?
Many people don’t know what marketing is. Those that do, either undervalue or overvalue it. There is no in-between.
Let me explain.
I used to spend a lot of my time with people who exclusively worked in the marketing/media space.
In that space, marketing is a fact of life, just like advertising or copywriting.
Now, though, I’m in a space where marketing doesn’t even break into the top 3 departments in the company.And the company only has 6 departments, so you know it’s bad.
This means that I’m spending a lot of my work hours with people who have not been exposed to marketing in any form.
There’s been a steep learning curve as I’ve had to explain, for the first time, why websites are important, and how blogging helps companies.
It’s been odd, trying to articulate something that seems natural to me.
However, with more diversity in relationships comes more knowledge, so I’ve had the pleasure of learning about how other people view the world. Programmers and salespeople see the same data differently, for example.
It’s been an eye-opening experience, as I’ve also learnt from my colleagues a lot about how marketing is perceived in the world.
For people other than marketers, it seems like there are only two conceptions of marketing:
Marketing Is A Waste Of Money
There’s a general level of ignorance when it comes to marketing. Many people think it’s purely advertising, or just purely networking.
That means that large organisations have a love-hate relationship with marketers.
Most of them understand that they should have a marketing department, but they don’t know what to do with them.
In this sense, marketing departments tend to be horrendously undervalued, as they’re seen as spending unnecessary money, both in the hiring of marketers and the execution of marketing activities.
My father, a man who worked with numbers his whole life as an accountant, felt the same way. He was always looking down on marketing activities, and felt that they did nothing to boost actual revenue numbers.
Most people don’t understand how marketing is integral to the company, as marketing can make or break a company’s reputation.
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Even for a small company, marketing can help to kick-start the beginning of a company’s visibility. After all, regardless of how amazing your product is made, if no one knows about it, your company will still go down.
Marketing hence needs to be involved in every department’s plans, as product roadmaps, sales plans, even office choices and parties can become something that potential consumers will want to know about.
“Why can’t you give us maximum brand awareness without information from our end?”
If marketing is excluded because there’s an assumption that they only need to be notified after the fact, that’s already too late, and your company’s marketing will naturally lose the impact it could have had.
Marketing Is The Face Of The Company
On the other hand, for organisations that have a robust marketing department, there’s the opposite problem: they assume that marketing teams can get anything done.
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When brands don’t succeed in their product or their sales processes, they assume that marketing teams can wave a magic wand and make the problems go away.
“Just make it sound better than it is.”
“Put a filter on that picture. You can fix anything with photoshop.”
“Put some nice ads online and everyone will forget about it in no time.”
Sigh. While marketing can accomplish a lot, we can’t make everything go away with a few well-placed ads and branding activities. Over-valuing the abilities of marketers can lead to a devaluation of other departments, with the expectation that marketing can make literally anything look better.
Marketing has to work together with other departments to promote them, but they also require the help of those departments to make the situation as spectacular as possible.
Yes, we can make that product image look better, but if you could follow our requirements for the image itself, the situation would resolve itself.
How Can Companies Balance This?
In the end, it is up to those at the top to ensure that marketing is established as a department that is on par with all the others.
There needs to be enough leadership buy-in for other departments to care about incorporating marketing into plans, but marketing departments also have to be clear about what can and cannot be done.
Without this level of transparency and collaboration, companies are sure to waste their marketing department’s time and resources. And that will definitely be spending more money than required.