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Setting the standard: Why accreditation matters for marketing

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Imagine, one morning someone enters your office and tells you that they want 20% of your annual turnover because they have a ‘great idea’ to grow your business. They are unable to provide any evidence to support their claims, other than saying they have a ‘great idea’.

It goes without saying, but not many business owners or managers would contemplate making such a transaction.

Unfortunately, this is what marketing often looks like, with far too many decisions made on hunches or guesses, rather than a factual understanding of market needs, positioning and opportunities. As a consequence, marketing consulting and marketing services have a surprisingly low barrier of entry, with anyone able to claim they are a marketing consultant, expert, specialist or even ‘guru’.

Research into business exits often cites the lack of marketing insights as being one of the top ten causes of business failure. This is despite marketing spend often being between 10% and 20% of an annual budget.

The current approach provided by many who claim to provide ‘marketing’ is failing businesses and the wider community.

This is why accreditation matters for marketing, and is why we are so heavily involved with the Australian Marketing Institute (AMI). Accreditation has the potential to uplift the marketing profession and provide a benchmark for the delivery of marketing services.

No business would seek financial advice from someone that lacks appropriate accreditation, given the potential ramifications of bad advice. Yet we as professional marketers, have lost track of the amount of times we have been brought in to fix the mistakes made by pseudo-marketers. It is time to put an end to pseudo-marketers by recognising the definition of marketing (as defined by the Australian Marketing Institute):

Marketing creates value – for customers, shareholders and society as a whole. It does this by creating an alignment between what consumers value and what organisations offer. It offers techniques that help firms better understand the needs, preferences and perceptions of their customers (a prerequisite to adding value to them), and ways of using that understanding to focus the value-creating and communicating activities of the firm into areas where they will be most effective.

Marketing exists to build the capacity of your business so you can achieve your business goals. This is why one of the core marketing concepts is the marketing mix (commonly known as the customer experience):

A strategic marketing approach would have asked the right questions: focusing on all elements rather than just promotions

The marketing mix highlights the areas that marketing needs to consider to enable business growth

The marketing mix shows the impact of marketing across a business, yet pseudo-marketers, the self-proclaimed ‘experts’, ‘specialists’ or ‘gurus’ will often only focus on one or two elements. This leads to disparate tactics that will create inconsistent outcomes, ultimately resulting in reputation and operational risks.

The Certified Practising Marketer - as accredited by the Australian Marketing Institute

The Certified Practising Marketer – as accredited by the Australian Marketing Institute

The Certified Practising Marketer (CPM) designation is accredited by the Australian Marketing Institute and sets the standard for the marketing profession.

Certified Practising Marketer (CPM) accreditation assesses academic and professional experience to ensure that there is an understanding, as well as ability to apply marketing. Accreditation means a commitment to the Australian Marketing Institute’s Code of Conduct and the requirement of continuing professional development to ensure ongoing learning.

A Certified Practising Marketer (CPM) understands that marketing is more than disparate tactics. A Certified Practising Marketer (CPM) realises that marketing is the strategic alignment between business goals and marketing outcomes, resulting in a measurable and positive impact on business growth and innovation.

At Syneka Marketing we are proud of our ongoing involvement with the Australian Marketing Institute. Our founder, Alex Makin is the State Chair of the Australian Marketing Institute’s Victorian Advisory Committee and our leadership team maintains Certified Practising Marketer (CPM) accreditation.

Do not risk your business with pretenders that lack accreditation and industry recognition. Accreditation matters for marketing, just as it does for Accountants, Lawyers and Engineers.

Marketing can deliver value – even during economic uncertainty

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Australia has faced several years of economic uncertainty and the latest trends appear to be indicating that a recession is on the horizon. Marketing is often one of the first areas to experience downsizing during economic uncertainty. This is largely due to a lack of measurability, resulting in marketing being seen as a cost centre rather than revenue generator.

This cycle is perpetuated through an execution led approach to marketing. Operating marketing as a silo, results in a lack of consistency between business goals and marketing outcomes. Agencies will typically take carriage of specific functions, such as design, content or social media, but there is a failure to fully appreciate the marketing mix, and the need to align execution with the identified strategic direction.

It is time to change this paradigm. Marketing needs to return to its core definition of delivering value, as per the definition adopted by the Australian Marketing Institute:

Marketing creates value – for customers, shareholders and society as a whole. It does this by creating an alignment between what consumers value and what organisations offer. It offers techniques that help firms better understand the needs, preferences and perceptions of their customers (a prerequisite to adding value to them), and ways of using that understanding to focus the value-creating and communicating activities of the firm into areas where they will be most effective.

The creation of value through marketing is what enables a business to expand its capacity. While economic conditions will have an impact, the role of marketing is to rise above these challenges and deliver ongoing value creation.

Proctor and Gamble is one such example. During the Great Depression of the 1930s, consumer goods were hit hard. Rather than cutting its marketing function, Proctor and Gamble, shifted its focus to essential household items. The solution came in the form of Oxydol, one of its soap brands, which made it easier to wash clothes, in an era where washing required extensive physical labour. After defining the product and its value proposition, Proctor and Gamble focused on how it could reach its target customers.

In an era where other companies were slashing marketing activities, Proctor and Gamble rehoned its approach to take into account the difficult economic conditions. Initiatives included a re-orientation towards commercial radio broadcasts, reaching consumers through a medium that was affordable to consumers, while offering positivity in an otherwise negative environment.

Pioneering both personas and content, Proctor and Gamble personified the product through the creation of Oxydol’s Own Ma Perkins and created the genre of soap operas along the way.

The Great Depression could have easily been a time of despair for Proctor and Gamble, but instead it re-examined the market context and gained a deeper understanding of its consumers. The marketing execution was the output of a strategic approach that ultimately saw the company achieve growth during times that many others failed.

If marketing rose to the challenge and re-connected with the need to demonstrate value, then marketing would be seen as the function that enables businesses to build capacity. It is time for the marketing profession to not repeat past mistakes, but instead to re-align itself with value and the delivery of metrics that matter.

Marketing exists to create value and enable you to build your capacity to achieve your business goals.

Our mission is to re-define marketing

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One area which we continually reflect upon is the diluted definition of marketing. Formal definitions for marketing include the following from the American Marketing Association:

Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.

With the Australian Marketing Institute (of which I am the Victorian State Chair) providing a similar view:

Marketing creates value – for customers, shareholders and society as a whole. It does this by creating an alignment between what consumers value and what organisations offer. It offers techniques that help firms better understand the needs, preferences and perceptions of their customers (a prerequisite to adding value to them), and ways of using that understanding to focus the value-creating and communicating activities of the firm into areas where they will be most effective.

Key terms in these definitions relate to the creation of value for all stakeholders. This enables you to build your capacity to achieve your business goals and to measure its impact.

Marketing exists to create value and enable you to build your capacity to achieve your business goals.

It is the notion of value that is often lost in the traditional execution led approach to marketing. This is why we lead through strategy, ensuring that marketing exists to support your strategic plan and direction into the futre.

We are intent on re-defining marketing to ensure it returns to its core definition. This is why we have been holding our re-defining and re-imaging marketing workshops throughout this year.

Melbourne Silicon Beach: Redefining Marketing for Melbourne’s StartUp Community

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Silicon Beach is Australia’s leading startup community, providing networking opportunities and support in developing local StartUps. We’re pleased to announce that we are the official marketing sponsor of Melbourne Silicon Beach and we’ll be working with the co-hosts to develop the capacity of the organisation and the businesses it supports.

Our interest in StartUps stems from our desire to redefine marketing. Unfortunately the StartUp space has been heavily romanticised, painting the illusion that tech giants, such as Facebook or Google were overnight sensations. The reality could not be further from the truth, developing the product, whether it be the next breakthrough App or Internet focused disruption, is one element. The positioning and marketing of these developments, is what separates success from failure.

Betamax vs VHS - technology innovations from the 1980s and a case study in how marketing needs to be strategic

Betamax vs VHS – technology innovations from the 1980s and a case study in how marketing needs to be strategic

Many technically superior products have failed to gain traction, due to an inadequate marketing approach. In the 1980s we had the VHS vs Betamax format wars, and this was repeated recently with the battle over Blu-Ray and HD DVD. The key to Blu-Ray’s success was in the support it garnered through studios and distributors, key channels that needed to be leveraged to reach end-customer interest.

Similarly, the whole of experience approach led to the ultimate dominance of VHS, against the strong foothold that Betamax had in the 1980s. VHS had a focus on reaching consumers through multiple channels, which outweighed the technical advantages of the Betamax format.

A lack of suitable marketing is cited as one of the top ten causes of business failure within Australia. Our support of Melbourne Silicon Beach is designed to re-define marketing; so StartUps and other businesses, understand the scope of marketing in the context of their vision.

What is Marketing?

What is Marketing?

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Marketing is unfortunately one of the most misunderstood functions in businesses and organisations. Professional Marketers have unfortunately allowed the term to be hijacked – through telemarketing, direct marketing, SEO marketing – and by others, who claim to offer marketing, but without the foundations to ensure ongoing success.

Marketing is created when you leverage the tools you have to achieve your organisation's goals

Marketing is created when you leverage the tools you have to achieve your organisation’s goals

The definition

Marketing has no standard definition – the key terms even differ between professional marketing associations.

The American Marketing Association defines marketing as:

Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.

While the Australian Marketing Institute uses the following definition:

Marketing creates value – for customers, shareholders and society as a whole. It does this by creating an alignment between what consumers value and what organisations offer. It offers techniques that help firms better understand the needs, preferences and perceptions of their customers (a prerequisite to adding value to them), and ways of using that understanding to focus the value-creating and communicating activities of the firm into areas where they will be most effective.

While the definitions differ, there is the common element of value, ensuring organisations provide value that resonates with customers, clients and other stakeholders.

Marketing – more than the sum of the parts

Marketing is more than sales, advertising, logos, promotion or processes – it is about leveraging the combined effort of your business or organisation to achieve its goals and mission.

Marketing starts with strategy. It considers the capabilities of your organisation and assesses the wider operating context to outline the steps required to achieve the goals you want for your organisation.

A marketing plan works in tandem with your business plan, providing the context and identifying steps that are required. A business plan identifies what you want to achieve, a marketing plan shows how you achieve these outcomes.

A logo on its own is not marketing, nor is a brochure, website or Twitter account. Marketing is when the logo is used to create a brand, providing an identity that is used in a brochure, website or Twitter account to communicate messages that reach and resonate with a target audience.

Marketing is when you leverage each of these tools to achieve the goals you have set for your organisation.

Beware the Pretenders

There are unfortunately many operators who are nothing more than pretenders – hijacking the marketing term through promises that cannot be kept.

You can use more than one provider to draw on specific expertise, but each of them should understand your goals and how they fit into the bigger picture. Services that neglect the bigger picture will do more harm than good, offering suggestions that fail to understand the people, processes and strengths of your organisation.

The consequences

Failing to understand the bigger picture can harm the reputation of your organisation, by creating conflicting messages that erode the value of your brand.

Let’s consider a brand likes Porsche. If Porsche wanted to increase sales then one option would be aggressive price discounts. Reducing prices would most likely result in a short-term increase in sales, but would also erode the prestige that Porsche has established over many years. The end result would be conflicting messages and an eroded brand that would adversely impact sales and reputation into the future.

A holistic marketing approach would understand the strengths of the brand and provide strategies that do not erode an organisation’s value.

Retail is experiencing a similar issue in Australia, where the focus has been on price rather than service.

There was a time when shoppers travelled to Myer to experience its highly regarded levels of service. Over time a focus on reducing prices resulted in staff reductions and a lower level of service, making Myer just another department store.

Along came online stores, who can undercut traditional retailers because they do not have the same cost pressures.

Unfortunately, retailers have focused predominately on price, without leveraging the strengths provided by a store presence. The result is an erosion of their unique selling proposition, or the attributes that distinguish one organisation from another. Retail needs to focus on the experience: service, personalisation and where shoppers are able to see what they want to buy.

Don’t damage your brand

While a standard definition of marketing is unlikely to be agreed upon soon – it is time to recapture what marketing is and the value it provides.

Don’t risk your organisation with providers who fail to understand the bigger picture and do not provide the steps to get you there.

Success starts with strategy – know what you want to achieve and then plan the steps required to get you there.