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How Marketing Can Go Beyond the 'Make It Pretty' Syndrome

by Laura Patterson  |  
May 13, 2008

At a recent conference, Sylvia Reynolds, chief marketing officer for Wells Fargo, asked, "When did Marketing become the make-it-pretty department?" Reynolds then reminded conference participants that the fundamental role of Marketing has always been about the customer.

Essentially, Marketing's role is to find, keep, and grow the value of customers. So what does that mean, and how does a marketer get beyond the "make it pretty" syndrome?

We can use the American Marketing Association's (AMA) definition of marketing as a guide. The AMA defines marketing as "an organizational function and a set of processes for creating, communicating and delivering value to customers and for managing customer relationships in ways that benefit the organization and its stakeholders."

By using this definition, we can see that marketing is more than a creative function; rather, it about a set of four critical customer-focused marketing processes.

Creating Value

Marketing sits in the space between the company's capabilities and what the customer wants. By understanding the core capabilities of the company, and then matching it with customer wants and needs, marketing drives value creation.

This means Marketing must fully understand the customer. In this capacity, the marketing organization serves as a driver of an organization's value chain by insuring products and services are shaped by customer expectations and demands.

Communicating Value

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Laura Patterson is president and founder of VisionEdge Marketing. For 20+ years, she has been helping CEOs and marketing executives at companies such as Cisco, Elsevier, ING, Intel, Kennametal, and Southwest Airlines prove and improve the value of marketing. Her most recent book is Metrics in Action: Creating a Performance-Driven Marketing Organization.

Twitter: @LauraVEM

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  • by Shekar Prabhakar Tue May 13, 2008 via web

    I can't agree with Laura more. It is time we reclaimed the essence of marketing - of it being an integrative process that animates the whole organization from creating to delivering to capturing value. Else we will be relegated to being gift wrappers without having a say in what the gift should be.


  • by Stephanie Fox Muller Tue May 13, 2008 via web

    I once worked with a company that referred to marketing's involvement as "fluff and buff," meaning that marketing was to take what other groups created and make it more palatable for the customer. Unless executives recognize that marketing can help define what needs to created in the first place to drive customer engagement throughout the buying cycle, the "arts and crafts" label will stick.

  • by Louise McGregor Wed May 14, 2008 via web

    This is something I've fought with our marketing department about - they've proposed taglines and actions, without thinking through the business process. A global call to action sounds great, but if your call centres don't know about it you're wasting your time.

    The new head of marketing made a different sort of proposal, one that includes pushing for changes in business processes so that we can claim the space we want, be credible and deliver to our customers.

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