Is marketing the most universal job function?
Because of my previous career as a marketer I have held the belief about marketing being the most important job function. I am very aware that everyone probably thinks the same thing; that their job is the most important job in the company. Now don’t get me wrong - I am very much an advocate for one person is no less important than another in any organisation. However, I think I have a good argument for why the marketing function or umbrella is the most important in any business. Let me explain why…
My argument stems from my earliest experiences in a company, an engineering software sales office. When I worked there it seemed like I was working with every department in one way or another. As my career developed I realised why. There is an aspect of marketing in every job role in a company.
Company birth theory
From the moment of conception you go into marketing beast mode. It is branding overload as you think of a name for the company and how you wish it to be perceived by the public. You conduct market research to uncover and understand a target market. This further shapes your branding and core concept.
Once you think you have something solid then all of the finer details of your brand are created as you build an image of how you wish to present yourself to your target market. Colour schemes, font types, imagery, etc. Web designers are called in, or you may choose to build a website yourself to create a face for your company. Strategies are implemented based on your market research to reach your consumers.
PR created to inform the world of your presence; your core competencies on full view, standing proud, saying this is us. Sales tactics are deployed and sales people are briefed with the knowledge of the target market and what sales messages will work best.
And then the birth of your business. All of this takes place before your business has even started. Marketing playing a pivotal role in almost every step of creating your business.
Marketing is everywhere
Even after your business is launched marketing continues to make itself known.
Once you land that very first customer you need to be thinking about how you are going to keep them. According to Marketing Metrics, it is 50% easier to sell to an existing customer than it is to make a new one. The sales team can work with marketing to understand the buyer’s behaviour and implement a strategy of how you are going to keep this customer coming back.
Unless you have the ability to see into the future you are probably going to have to adapt your marketing. Consumer behaviour will be influenced by everything that is going on in the market around them. Perhaps market changes mean you can capitalise on certain things. Market analysis should be a constant function within the business. Marketing can work with sales to get deeper insight into consumer behaviour, monitor market trends and implement changes based on findings. Successful businesses only stay successful by adapting to what is going on around them and marketing plays an essential role in staying on top of these changes. It was Charles Darwin that said - “It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.”
Once you get bigger you may find yourself in need of expanding so you take on new employees and grow your business. Now that your company is growing you need to make sure a fertile company culture is in place to ensure effective operations are maintained. This is where internal marketing comes into play. The brand that you created for your company should be manifested within every single employee. After all, these employees are essentially an arm of your business and interact with potential customers. The company culture will play a big part in this, directly affecting how the company is perceived by the outside world.
Allow me to retort
Of course there are many arguments as to why marketing might not be the most important business function. You might argue that the bottom line and therefore the most important function in a business is sales. As without making money, your business is not going to be able to exist much after the initial launch.
You may also argue that some companies take a more product centric approach to running a business. Maybe high-tech manufacturers or software developers will put a lot of emphasis on developing their products. Huge amounts of money and resources will be committed to making these products so good they ‘sell themselves’.
My retort to both of these arguments would also be how I would simplify the justification for mine. Both sales and development would rely on data to understand their target market. Sales to understand their needs in order to tailor the sales pitch. The product orientated companies would rely on vast amounts of data to understand how customers interact with their products in order to develop a better, more desirable product.
The bottom line for any business should be to understand their target market. As without a target market there is no business. If they can master and harness this information in a meaningful way, nothing can stop them. Since this is a fundamental part of the marketing function, it goes without saying that it is the most important.