I have a very long commercial memory, and I remember with considerable clarity that in days long ago, the "marketing function" was a sideshow, almost an after-thought, or an add-on to the real engine room within most companies - the sales force.
Typically, the inhabitants of the marketing department - yes, that was way before they became divisions, or even functions - were either failed salesmen or women who had lost the appetite for full-on daily competitive skirmishes, or they were returning mothers, looking for some part-time income.
Their days usually began at 8.55 am on the dot, and ended at 5.01pm. They closed down typewriters/word processors (yes, I am really talking about that long ago) at 1.00 pm, to unpack their lunches, and then religiously packed all the Tupperware and flasks away again at 1.59 pm.
They did not so much enter rooms, but rather shuffle in, nervously - almost apologetically - as if in fear of being asked if they could possibly justify their existence.
They may have thought that they were responsible for promoting - and occasionally defending - the company's image, but in reality, they were at the beckoning of anyone in the boardroom/C-Suite. Come to think about it, they were also at the beckoning of anyone in sales too.
When I myself arrived at board level - and in fact at every company I operated at that level - I quickly learned that marketing budgets were there to be spent. It was almost as if not spending the entire budget would be perceived as failure! So what did I do? I refused to allocate a budget, but rather, laid out sensible guidelines, which forced discussion and justification for any major spend. Radical? Hardly, but it ensured that I always had my finger on the pulse.
My goodness, how times have changed. Marketing personnel now stride across the sales floor; they look the sales team in the eye; they have become an important and integral part of the "offense unit" .... In fact, marketing teams who know what they are doing are as valuable as high-achieving sales professionals.
Why? The advancement in very high quality and efficient sales/marketing alignment tools, and social media have propelled the marketing unit into a formidable front-line function, producing a constant stream of high quality leads and opportunities. In many organizations, they have replaced cold calling and established themselves as the "new business creation stars"
Sadly there is a plethora of so called "marketing gurus" but many, in my experience, are self-styled. Note that I say "many" If you know where to look, you will find them. (But still farely rare - a bit like rocking-horse poo) I have my own list of personal favourites, which I might share!
So back to that rhetorical question: "Who needs marketing anyway?" We all do - now, more than ever!
Why still the stand-off with sales? Why still no legal wedding? Why an uneasy truce - a kind of "marriage of convenience?"
I'll explain that in a follow-up post this week. It isn't "rocket science" - well not to someone who has a long memory, and can remember typewriters!
News: Please do you remember that voting opens over at Top Sales Awards tomorrow. And to prove my point, next year this event will be called "Top Sales & Marketing Awards"