The many academic definitions that refer to the specific job roles and functions of marketing and sales, the confusion between marketing and sales, the reality of a new world filled with changes brought about by the 4IR and Covid-19, and boardroom arguments about whether marketing and sales play a strategic or an operational role all contribute to this.
Research conducted in Europe on executive management’s view of the role of marketing reveals that marketing executives believe marketing should operate at a strategic level and contribute to corporate strategy, while non-marketing executives see marketing as enabling sales or supporting the sales function.
These different mindsets prompted research in South Africa to determine how executives here view marketing. Exploring what marketing is understood to be for South African executives, marketing and non-marketing executives had comparable views.
Both groups said that marketing, among other things, is about brand awareness, consumer relationships, products and service deliverables, enticing the customer, and paving the way for sales to close transactions. The executives were fully aware of the traditional definitions that encompass the 4Ps (Product, Price, Place and Promotion).
However, many current scholars have stated that a modern marketing definition must include the 4IR components that reflect technological change. When the executives were asked whether these agreed understandings were put into practice in their organisations, the responses were a resounding “No”…
This dichotomy between theory and practice is nothing new. This is in part because of the different definitions, which result in misinterpretation and eventually have a negative impact on the organisation. There is a clear-cut division between marketing executives and non-marketing executives.
All non-marketing executives viewed marketing’s role in the organisation as that of sales support, while marketing executives see marketing as a strategic function. Non-marketing executives believe that marketing is not complex enough to operate on a strategic level.
Marketing correlates with the sales efforts of the organisation, and its planning is short-term. Marketing executives believe that marketing’s strategy should be aligned with the organisation’s strategic goals – and this planning is long-term.
The executives also had opposing views on the marketing metrics used in the organisation. Non-marketing executives are of the opinion that marketing’s success is difficult to measure, and that the only reliable measure is an increase in sales. There is no financial accountability, and marketing is usually obsessed with digital and social media page activity such as clicks and likes. It is difficult to report marketing success in financial terms.
In contrast, marketing executives feel that it is very easy to measure marketing’s organisational contributions.
There are probably another 201 aspects we could have added to this list – but for now, we believe that the list is a good start to bringing about some change, to encourage marketers, and to clear up some boardroom misperceptions about the power, importance, and role of marketing, sales and the role of marketing in the boardroom.