Opinion: Debunking the great misconceptions of marketing

By Thanzyl Thajudeen

For long, marketing has been narrowly misunderstood with numerous other terms. And the sole responsibility for this lies in the hand of marketers such as ourselves. This is because we haven’t really taken a bigger stance on putting our efforts in advocating or addressing the many false ideologies or misconceptions held by various stakeholders as well as the society at large. And too often, we find ourselves cooped up in the comfort of our own paradigm. At the outset, though the definition of marketing may vary from one person to another, I can confidently say that it will read something very similar or close enough to this – Marketing is the art and science of creating, managing and sustaining stakeholder value. In other words, it’s all about understanding human connections.

Marketers can be viewed as those who are responsible for; strengthening relationships and brand intimacy not just among consumers but with all stakeholders, challenging the status quo and leading meaningful entrepreneurial change, communicating and sustaining the organization’s beliefs and values, enriching value creation with a win-win mindset, creating a well-balanced autonomous environment, enabling creativity and innovation through knowledge leadership, and increasing responsiveness and resilience even during the most unprecedented times. Simply put, marketers are growth enablers, change makers and people leaders.

Whilst a majority of the efforts and time go into canvassing relevant segments and personas and establishing meaningful relationships with the brand and the consumer and everything that goes in between, marketers are also heavily engaged and responsible for creating value for all other stakeholders. For instance, managing and improving employee or internal communications, aligning and directing inter-organizational units, or instilling and strengthening the founding passion and values across all organizational relationships. Naturally with close and frequent interactions, this puts marketers at an advantage to know the depth and breadth of existing and future position of these relationships.

Many often confuse that marketing is just advertising. Rather advertising is a very minor part of the former though when done right, it often comes out stronger, appealing to the masses with a high cognitive impact that spurs eidetic memory. And adding to this is the numerous unethical and irresponsible approaches and messaging that often translates as lies in the eye of the beholder. Marketers are far beyond this, with a natural force to be responsible and strategic in their conduct. For instance, marketers are the torchbearers and ambassadors responsible for enriching and sustaining corporate image and identity that ultimately makes up the corporate reputation, and constantly manage the various elements and relationships between them through reputational frameworks and wisdom to succeed in its strategic direction.

The ability to distinct between marketing and sales is a great concern. Arguably one could safely say that marketing is an umbrella term of the latter. Sales often tend to focus greatly on behavioral economics specifically on consumer purchasing and decision making and analytics, aided by various automation and intelligence. The weightage of an organization’s leadership giving one more prominence over the other depends on factors that are seemingly unknown.

Gender inequality has been another surprising concern, specifically among leadership positions. The misconception that marketing requires a great deal of effort, often having to compromise work-life balance is just something one cannot agree at all. Women have much greater skills and competencies in not just making impactful and results driven strategies but also to empathize and champion all relationships across an organization. Great marketing comes about when marketing starts working for you, not the other way. Men undoubtedly have a lot to learn from the women in marketing, in developing the required abilities and level of patience to see the world through the eyes of others, breaking away from the long association of their own paradigm.

Many more things to say on this topic however words are insufficient. We as marketers have to draw inspiration from many aspects of our lives and be spontaneous in our approach than just routine planning. And I believe that marketers truly have the gift of this trait as naturally they are all about looking towards the future where much of is uncertain. Marketers should lead marketing, and not just do marketing. Various global surveys confirms that the former outperforms the latter. Leadership should be a marketing strategy and take a central role in the way we conduct ourselves; and most importantly to practice what is preached in a world where lust, materialism, deception, and speed dominates everything.

(Thanzyl Thajudeen MCIM CMktr MSLIM MCPM is a senior marketing and design consultant. He can be reached via thanzyl.thajudeen@gmail.com)

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