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What is marketing anyway? This was the question posed to us by Mitch Gooze’, president and founder of Customer Manufacturing Group located in Santa Clara, California. In a presentation to one of my CEO private advisory boards Mitch helped clarify the role of marketing in an organization and the role of the CEO in that part of the business.

Customer Manufacturing Group works with companies to help design their marketing and sales processes in order to manufacture customers. Their goal is to help you create a sustainable marketing and sales method to gain new customers and retain your existing ones.

First Mitch shared his definition of the role of marketing within your organization. Marketing’s job is to align the capabilities of your company with the current and future needs of your customers. The question “What do your customers need tomorrow?” is not a question your customers can answer; you need to answer it for them.

In the marketing/sales process you need to answer three questions:

  1. WHO is your customer?
  2. WHAT do they want to buy?
  3. HOW do they want to buy it?

It’s question #2 that you need to answer for your customer and this can only be done by learning it from your customer’s point of view. This is accomplished by you, the CEO, making it a point to call on your most important customers, not to sell them, but to find out their future needs and how your company can fulfill them. Or you can hire an outside firm to do it for you. But I strongly recommend you do it yourself so that you can hear firsthand what your customers, and even your prospects, are thinking. What a competitive advantage you would have if you knew what products or services your target customer needed down the road.

The Four Roles of Marketing

Mitch reviewed with us the four roles of marketing:

  1. Strategic Marketing – Marketing must align with your company’s overall strategic plan. Marketing’s only job is to grow revenues profitably and this is done by increasing pricing; increasing the number of your customers; retaining existing customers; and selling more to current customers.
  2. Product Management – This person or department is devoted to developing new products or services that fit into the company’s strategic plan of reaching its target market and leveraging the company’s strengths. If this responsibility resides in a separate department then there is eventually a hand off to Product Marketing.
  3. Product Marketing – Now comes the job of introducing new products or services into your market; promoting existing products; developing collateral material to promote; communicating how you are different from your competition; and ensuring sales channels are being used effectively. This job requires a good communicator and one who can work with different personality types.
  4. Marketing Services – This is where advertising and special promotions take place in your company. These may include sales contests, public relations, advertising, trade shows, dealer programs, and/or direct mail campaigns. This is also where the collateral material developed by Product Marketing is disseminated.

Most of you probably are not large enough to have these areas as separate departments. In fact, most of you may not be able to afford to have a separate person in charge of each of the four areas. There is no harm in combining these responsibilities among one or two people as long as you manage their production and results.

Speaking of results, Mitch encouraged all of us to think of the money you spend marketing as an investment, not as an expense. Treat it like you do research and development, as an investment in the future.

Consider Reading This

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg. Distilling vast amounts of information into engrossing narratives that take us from the boardrooms of Procter & Gamble to sidelines of the NFL to the front lines of the civil rights movement, Duhigg presents a whole new understanding of human nature and its potential. In this book he explains why habits exist and how they can be changed.