1. It attracts the creative types and not enough of the results oriented individuals. Marketing is strongly associated with advertising and the creative aspects of the discipline and these people aren’t necessarily focused on the bottom line. Good advertising needs creative people but marketing is more than just a good ad campaign. Great marketing comes from leaders that have a good grasp of all aspects of the business and can shepherd an idea through the value chain. I’ve often said that if marketing isn’t focused on innovation it’s probably doing administration and that doesn’t add value.
2. Too many buzzwords. Marketing conversations can become very esoteric in a hurry when you start talking about brand identity, value proposition and positioning. These are all key elements of great marketing strategy but can also numb the brain when you get talking about it. The nuances can be ever so slight, yet important, when writing a positioning statement that conversations take on a circular pattern that seem to have no end. It’s hard not to get lost in the sound of your own voice and eventually see the CEO leave the meeting for more productive pastures.
3. It’s often a mismanaged department. More often than not these days the marketing department is managed by a senior person that has limited marketing experience or comes from sales. Sure, put the fox in charge of the hen house, why not! Strategic thinking goes out the window and now the company is dealing with pricing tactics as their key strategic weapon to gain market share. Marketing is about building profitable customer relationships that builds and sustains a business but it doesn’t happen overnight.
4. Marketing has fuzzy or ambiguous objectives. Nothing sets a functional department off in an unproductive direction faster than having more qualitative than quantitative objectives. Marketing should own ‘new products’ in terms of having a key deliverable for generating a % of revenue from new products each year. There should be shared revenue objectives and a clear line of sight to a target on ‘new customers’. Without this level of clarity it’s hard to see what marketing is contributing.
5. Marketing ROI can be difficult to measure. Initiatives that build or enhance positive consumer perceptions of a brand are hard to quantify. Short terms tactical programs are easier to measure in terms of the results they generate but building a strong brand/business takes longer. Programs developed and executed today will have residual benefits down the road and in today’s fast paced environment managers need results sooner than later.