Sunday, September 20, 2009 IN DEFENSE OF MARKETING
“To right the unrightable wrong … No matter how hopeless, no matter how far…” The Impossible Dream
Our host kicked-off a Brand Positioning & Communications training program we conducted in Europe by having all the participants introduce themselves. In addition to the standard questions such as name, country, title and brand she asked each oneto share his or her dream. When it came my turn I shared that my dream is “to dream the impossible dream.” Perhaps you are familiar with the song “The Impossible Dream” which comes from the musical play Man of la Mancha and is based upon the Miguel Cervantes masterpiece Don Quixote. (To hear the title song in a commercial for Honda, just copy and paste in your address line):http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XiBX8MkFkd4&feature=PlayList&p=AE239A7447086CFF &index=5 ) The character Don Quixote is an elderly warrior who, as the expression goes, tilts windmills. He is a knight-errant who goes in search of wrongs with the intension to right them. At times I feel like Don Quixote fighting the “unwinable fight” in assisting organizations and their marketers in trying to achieve marketingexcellence. It is a battle that must be fought on many fronts among which are: the management’s failure to understand the role that marketing plays in the organization; marketing being run by non-marketers with little training or aptitude for their role; misuse of marketing as “service to sales” which, in the long run, does a disservice to sales personnel and undermines the competitiveness of theorganization long-term; the lack of institutionalization of sound marketing principles and best practices; and the lack, or misuse, of marketing research and sound business analysis, failing to create a learning organization – among others. I feel I’ve lived a dream. I’ve had a wonderful childhood and received a sound education, both formal and informal. I’ve been a Navy officer and pilot (as well as a“gentleman”). I’ve worked for some of the most admired companies in the world. I’ve held every marketing position from lowly Brand Assistant to Chief Marketing Officer to General Manager. I’m coming on 40-years of marriage with a most loving and supportive wife. I have three loving daughters and two fine sons-in-law. I have one precious grand daughter with two more due to arrive before year-end. Mybusiness partner and I complement each other. Besides he’s my very good friend. I have a wonderful team in each of my co-instructors and consultants and our operations people in Chanute. We are like family depending upon and supporting each other faithfully and 1
enthusiastically. I travel the world and have scores of friends where ever I go. I am a 4th-dan black belt in two martial arts –Taekwondo and Hapmoodo. My life has been a dream. What else is there to dream? Win the lottery? Now that’s truly improbable. There is one dream left, the impossible dream. In my professional life it is to help restore marketing to its proper role in the corporation, and marketers be empowered to create new successes. When I started marketing, which is just about 38-years ago, the company with which Ibegan my career, Procter & Gamble, was up there with the Harvard B-School in producing the most corporate presidents. And, the P&G folks who made it to the top level came out of marketing where we were trained to be the presidents of our brand. Today marketing does not command the respect it did in those early years of my career. In some sectors marketing is not perceived to be very important, ifimportant at all, other than to provide support to the sales force. As might be expected this is particularly acute in non-Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) sectors such as Medical Devices & Diagnostics. Nor do marketers run their own brands. At best they own discreet projects with little interconnectedness to others in building a brand. As a result marketing is underutilized. It’s a vast...
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