Fast Company

So What Does Marketing Really Do?

For many years, I held various marketing positions in large B2B manufacturing firms and would be asked this question: “So what do you guys really do, anyway?” I found that mumbling or pulling out some helpful Dilbert cartoons really weren’t addressing this question well. So eventually I began describing marketing’s role in three parts: Design, Development and Delivery.

The Design phase is when you figure out what your customers really want. The Development phase occurs when you develop a new product or service to meet that need. And the Delivery phase is all about promoting that product/service in a manner that puts it into customers’ hands.

In many companies, the Marketing function only touches that middle phase (Development) lightly. Most of the fingerprints here belong to some scientists in the R&D department, for instance. But, in my experience, it’s always wise to have a multi-functional team engaged in all three phases. And the Marketing function usually has an important and perhaps even coordinating role here.

If you’re explaining this to someone during a very short elevator ride, you might even describe marketing’s role in a somewhat more abbreviated fashion: Early-Stage Marketing and Late-Stage Marketing. More on this in next week’s blog.

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