The role of marketing
This article aims to explain the role of marketing within the organisational context, and to show how the discipline can be used reliably to drive business success.
The core role of marketing is to encourage an single-minded focus on the consumer throughout all business activity.
For a charity, this could be a focus on major donors, for a car business this could be existing or potential buyers, for a magazine this would be the readers.
Researching, understanding and knowing the consumer's needs is critical to remain competitive in today's economic climate. Those without this focus are particularly exposed during recessions or economic difficulty, and as a result many are starting to fair badly. Case study examples include Blockbuster Video and HMV - both of which clung on to an old business model and were slow to cater for the habits of the modern movie or music lover.
Some may say this topic should be restricted to be marketing or sales departments, but the most successful businesses have a marketing led approach throughout the entire organisation. It's the marketing department's role to ensure this happens, and continues long into the future.
Common mistakes are to confuse the marketing department for the advertising or promotional wing of the company, but this is only one element of the remit. Management of the marketing mix can be a cross-discipline activity, and it's unlikely that the marketing team will have full responsibility for the product or service produced, the price or the place it is solde, however it is the role of the marketing team to ensure the mix is applied in a way which is customer centric.
A marketing led company will work to a marketing plan which is developed and refined along side the business plan. The role of marketing is to stimulate good business decisions using a proven framework. When correctly applied, a marketing plan will prevent poor decisions, including the classic inventor's dilemma - starting with the product then desperately trying to work out how to sell it.
Bottom line - if you know your customer, develop products or services that they want, and talk to them in a way that appeals, you can't go too far wrong.