Monday, June 20, 2005

Business versus Marketing.

Recently, I was in a meeting with clients who had invited a few of their important business allies. It was one of those sessions meant to get feedback and share thoughts about advertising and marketing. Generally, I like these meetings, despite the fact that larger groups tend to shoot down promising ideas as quickly as clay pigeons. I do find that I usually learn something even if I have to absorb a considerable amount shrapnel to do it.

A fair amount of jousting went on. I felt it was in the spirit of arriving at good solutions and I think most of the group felt the same way. Most people will be shocked to learn that I'm not reluctant to share my opinions in these forums.

But there was one comment that really struck me. I'm fairly thick-skinned, but this remark registered a, "Damn, that really hurt."

The comment was:

"So we've got the business guys over here and the marketing guys over there..."


I think his "marketing" reference was specific to "ad guys." (The scary thing for client-side marketers is that you're starting to get lumped in with the oily ad types.) My first reaction was, "Hey, we're running a business ourselves." Then I turned all defensive and insecure and wanted to tell everyone in the room about our slow march towards selling our own products. (We're inching closer.)

Finally, I started to wonder why marketing people are considered such business lightweights. Has it been all the bad movie portrayals? The fact that we don't have dress codes? The foosball tables?

Seth Godin thinks marketers have done a poor job of marketing themselves. He's probably right. Our industry is full of image makers who have served up a bit too much Donny Deutsch and not enough Pat Fallon.

Are we a bunch of charlatans? Do we create, or at least add, value?


Anonymous Lisa Williams said...

Dean, I am aware of similar bias in the world of arts administration. I preface this with an honest disclaimer that I have not (knowingly) been subjected to this bias. In the world of arts administration, there has definitely been bias against hiring a marketing director as organization's executive director. (They're more likely to tap the development director for ED.) My job requires me to develop programs and run marketing, too. I like to think my marketing expertise has caused the programs I develop to be better. People seem to forget that marketing involves more than promotion. It's the product, too. It's sad to realize that some attitudes toward marketers can be summed up with this: "Stop telling me what's wrong with my product. Just go sell it."

12:17 PM  
Blogger Black Lab Five said...


It seems to me that being able to market the arts would be as necessary to the success of an organization's executive director as the ability to develop programs. I would say that both are equally important.

Makes me think of classical music — great product, so-so marketing.

7:25 PM  

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