Is Marketing in Transition, in Denial, or In Between?


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A Linkedin-er recently started an excellent discussion thread in several groups, asking whether Marketing had become more science than art. The discussions quickly drilled down to identifying the true purpose of marketing today, and then the fun started. Before long, commenters had aligned themselves around one of two perspectives – with enough fervor to resemble two sides of a religious schism.

One sect claimed that once you’d peeled the onion to get to the core, marketing’s true role is selling the companies goods and services. That simple. And as a corollary, creativity drives sales, with science contributing precision targeting. True, inside-out, company-centric thinking.

But a second sect claimed marketing’s true role today is understanding customers and representing customer interests within the company. Approaching Outside-In, customer-centric thinking. Without going back and tallying comments, I’d say the comments were 60% inside-out and 40% Outside-In.

What’s obvious from the fervor is that these two sides aren’t going to peacefully merge. So my question is: “What happens from here?” One side winning out? An armed truce? Traditional inside-outers being left behind as a dying breed? Futuristic Outside-Inners getting too close to the flame of innovation and burning up?

IMHO, reality is not always in the middle. Yes, there will always be a sales element in marketing. And there will always be a mass media element, a significant one, at least for the foreseeable future. But the marketing people manning or womaning these roles will become the tail, not the dog?the executional side, not the thinking side. Customer-related innovation will be centered around finding new ways to satisfy customer desires?and thereby adding new value to customers. And today’s marketing “creativity” will become yesterday’s ad jingle. Stiff functional, but hardly heralded.

Republished with author's permission from original post.


  1. Hi Dick This a bit like the CRM debate. CRM is software, marketing is a selling, telling function. Trying to manipulate years of language usage because things have changed “out there” is a recipe for confusion. My idea is to create new language, develop best practice and energise the “traditional” functions of sales, marketing and customer service.


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