Magazine article Marketing

The Essay

Magazine article Marketing

The Essay

Article excerpt

What does 'marketing' actually mean and what is it for, asks Laurence Green.

What is marketing for? It's a straightforward enough question, but not one many of us dwell on for too long as we race toward execution. This means we lead perilous professional lives in comparison to our colleagues in finance, sales and beyond, with their more concrete sense of self.

Doing marketing without first establishing what it is for is a kind of corporate hara-kiri. Fogginess of purpose encourages marketing's practitioners to stray into irrelevant foothills. It hands its critics and naysayers a long length of rope. The boardroom can be an unforgiving place if your scope is misunderstood. If marketing doesn't know what it is for, then how can it be trusted?

Happily, this most basic of questions has not only been tabled again recently - perhaps most spiritedly, by a new generation of marketing leaders at last month's ISBA conference - but has already prompted some reputation-enhancing soul-searching.

So what is marketing for? Faced with a question like this, most planners' instinct is to be philosophical rather than practical Happily, my pocket client and business partner Phil Rumbol (exof the client woods) boasts complementary skills. His immediate version? 'To stimulate demand.'

Now, the marketing profession doesn't necessarily need one universal, unbending answer to this question. It is much more important that 'What is marketing for?' is asked at the level of the individual organisation, so that it can then align behind a common purpose, expectation and metric.

But perhaps it really is that simple. Marketing exists to stimulate demand. It certainly clarifies a distinctive and business-critical role for an allegedly frivolous activity. For there are no orders to be taken, no products to be shipped, no invoices to be sent and no wages to be paid in a business that fails at demand-creation. …

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