Is your marketing focused on a higher purpose?
What is a higher purpose?
In truth most marketing is focused on relatively short term commercial gain, for example an uplift in advocacy, loyalty or revenue. There is nothing wrong with marketing having clear commercial objectives, short and longer term, even ambitious ones but if these objective have no context, no purpose or if that purpose is only commercial gain, then there may be problems. You don’t have to look back too far to find instances where marketing as a ‘sales machine’ went sadly wrong, where the consequential impact on previously successful brands and even and industries were catastrophic.
There is no doubt that effective marketing generates sales, revenue and commercial benefit. Arguably, great marketing amplifies this over time, sustaining sales, growing revenue and margin by focusing marketing on a higher purpose. As an externalised perspective of value, a higher purpose may be rooted in social values, longer term vision of a better future, shared wealth, fairness, health or security. Internally it may mean giving ‘marketing’, recognition and priority it deserves as a vehicle to deliver customer value, placing the customer at the heart of the organisation, letting marketing activity becoming the agent of change, the customer champion within the organisation. From time to time and perhaps all too often organisations loose sight of the higher purpose. It’s neglected in favour of shareholder returns, cost saving or profitability. All too often ‘marketing’ or if you like customer focus (the two should one and the same) is not the number one priority, instead it’s commercial gain, an internalised view of success. Great words, wonderfully crafted thoughts, brands and laudable promises just fail to hit the mark when we loose focus on the higher purpose. Is the ‘marketing | customer voice’ strong enough in the organisation, not just to be heard, but to influence decision making at every level?
Where the ‘rubber hits the road’
Theoretical arguments about whether organisation have marketing focused on a higher purpose are largely irrelevant. The test comes when commercial decisions are made. Not just the big decisions but the countless thousands that are made every day by people throughout your organisation. Where, for example sales choose more margin over customer discount, where commissions rather than customer fulfilment drive behaviours, where cost is the primary consideration, where ‘our success’ is more important than delivering the things our customers value. A strong organising thought and good marketing disciplines can help, but the bottom line is that leadership behaviours must focus the organisation on a higher purpose. As the ‘voice of the customer’ marketing must earn and subsequently be given the right to play a pivotal role in this. That means in many organisations marketers need to ‘change their spots’, become the ‘customer champions’ they should be and demonstrate ‘left and right hand brain’ capability to lead complex decision making at the highest levels in the organisation. Some can do this, some a great at it, but many are not.