The CMO Survey Blog

The Marketing Ivory Tower Needs to Get a Grip

In the August 2010 CMO Survey, I asked top marketers the following question:  What is marketing primarily responsible for in your firm?

Marketers were then asked to check from a list of strategic, tactical, and financial activities in firms. What I found is in the table below.

At least a couple worrisome thoughts arise from these results. First, while marketing is playing an important role in brand and social media in most organizations, marketing’s contributions to the key strategic activities of the firm are sadly absent.  This includes marketing’s weak contributions to key strategic activities such as market entry, innovation, CRM, sales, distribution, and targeting.

Ask any top business school marketing professor what marketers do and they will likely respond with something like the 4Ps (price, promotion, place-distribution, and product) and the 3Cs (customers, competitors, and company).  This leads to the second worrisome thought. I think it is pretty clear that marketing is NOT doing what ivory tower marketers think it is doing or would like it to do.  This little fantasy that marketing does important things contributes to a problem among many marketing academics, which is that they don’t contribute to building knowledge about successful marketing.

What’s happening in companies that keeps marketing professionals from making the contributions we train them to believe they should be making?  Or is the problem that academic marketing research and training need to change to increase the value of marketing to companies?  If not us, who?

What is Marketing Responsible for in your Firm? (n = 332 responses)

Activity Number of people checking Percentage of
Positioning 261 78.6%
Promotion 256 77.1%
Brand 255 76.8%
Marketing research 240 72.3%
Social media 231 69.6%
Competitive intelligence 208 62.7%
Public relations 193 58.1%
Lead generation 192 57.8%
Market entry strategies 190 57.2%
New products 170 51.2%
Customer relationship management 147 44.3%
Targeting/market selection 136 41%
Sales 123 37%
Pricing 119 35.8%
Innovation 111 33.4%
Customer service 83 25%
Stock market performance 4 1.2%
Distribution 0 0%