Your task is to communicate, not to broadcast

In many companies, what’s elsewhere known as the marketing department is known as “marketing communications”. There’s a very good reason for this. It’s what they really do.

Marketing, in a classic sense, should be the opposite half of a loop which is completed by design and production. You analyse what the market wants next (marketing), you make it (design and production), you advertise and sell it (marketing again), and repeat from the start. However, most so-called marketing departments don’t complete a loop like this. They’re part of a different model, and may even be subservient to sales, not the other way around. Their role is mainly to generate interest in products, and to produce sales support material. Hence the more accurate “marketing communications”.

Many of you who are “marketing managers”, or part of a “marketing department”, might acknowledge that in truth, your role is marketing communications. You don’t manage the sales department. You don’t guide design and production. You’re focused on a subset of the classic marketing model: producing marketing material and feeding the sales team with leads.

That alone could give you pause for thought. But there’s more. Of these two words, “marketing” might seem the most important. However, it’s understanding the importance of “communications” which is the key to success. If I’ve learned one thing in 30 years of involvement in industrial media, it’s that the majority of companies are not very good at communicating. What they’re doing, most of the time, is broadcasting. It’s all one-way. Communicating with your market means interacting with it. Communicating with your market means measuring the response to what you do.

Those that do this, find that marketing isn’t about trying to shout the loudest, and just hoping it works.

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