Thursday, January 2, 2014

What sets marketers apart

Marketing has always been the cost centre and dare I say - the discussion centre. Everyone else has their defined area of 'expertise', it is marketing that is everyone's favourite punching bag. No one messes with the finance because numbers is always a big mess. No one messes with the operations because stock management is a big headache. What about marketing, then? That's everyone's playground!

Marketing needs to be at the heart of decisions impacting both your buyers and customers - no second thought about it. The strong internal pressure leads even the marketing team to look at ROI metrics or even increase 'stakeholder response rate'. However, I always had the same lingering doubt - What exactly is the unique core competency of marketers?

It's pretty easy for other streams and professional roles to list specialized competencies - but what about marketers? What is our unique competency? What is that one thing that stands us out from the rest of the streams?

Great communication skills? - Nope, everyone requires it

Strategic Thinking? - Nope again

Creative ability? - Not really

Ability to innovate and marry the long term and short term plan? - Not exactly

All these are something that non-marketers are also supposed to have. Then what is it that we should possess?

It is up for discussion and debate but personally I believe that the answer for this is Meaningful engagement with buyers and customers

How often have we seen strategy meetings talking about a complete engagement model with buyers and customers? Am not saying that the buyers' needs are not discussed - far from it. Needs are discussed but only partially and in line with the other departments. How should we take care of our operations? What should be our stocking positions? What should be the finances to be put for branding purposes? How should we carry out our advertising plan?

There certainly is a need to speak to the complete market of buyers. There definitely is a need to think beyond the usual and make decisions that will be market driven. There is a need to gain non-obvious insights of customer buying patterns. Companies do tend to get these insights by outsourcing but the presence of 'buyer experts' to judge the trends and patterns of buying is invaluable to any company.

So, what do I want to be? I would want to be a hard worker; I would want to be a pro-active problem solver; I would want to be a relationship builder....but on top of all the above, I would want to be a buyer expert decoding the expert buyers!

Happy marketing!

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