A simple insight from Peter Drucker resonated so strongly that it stuck in my normally poor memory: “Customers are the only profit centre we have…the purpose of business is to create and keep a customer”.
For most organisations, their underlying value is predicated on the current and forward cash flow value of their customer base. Marketing’s role within an organisation is essentially to get, keep and grow customers. Ergo, marketing is a core driver of organisational value.
In turn, this means that marketing is also accountable to the organisation and the customer for representing consumer needs and aspirations to the organisation; ensuring the delivery of solutions which are responsive to these needs; and providing the emotional/functional value they seek in return for their custom. It follows therefore that the marketing function should be optimally tuned: fully capable of achieving its mission to maximise customer value.
This requires the organisation’s marketers to constantly develop the right skills and have the right practice in place. It is a simple proposition, but making it happen and getting it right is particularly challenging in today’s (and tomorrow’s) ever-evolving marketplace.
In my view, the marketing function is under the microscope as never before to prove that: it is in control of developing its marketplace – with all its increasing complexities; it is more science than art – decisioning is based on sound data and proven practice; it is an investment not a cost centre – there is a direct link between marketing’s activities and the organisation’s financial performance.
Against this back-drop, how can organisational managers be sure that their marketing skills base and day-to-day practice is optimal? Answer: they need to adopt the practice of marketing capability management. Over the last year, we have found this concept has been creeping into the lexicon of leading marketing organisations, with some creating a dedicated management role.
Timing is everything and the IDM felt that the formation of the Marketing Capabilities Council (www.theidm.com/mcc) would help to carry the momentum even further. It comprises senior practitioners from brands including Heineken, Microsoft, Nokia and Callcredit - experienced professionals who have proven expertise in leveraging marketing capabilities to deliver marketing success.
We held the inaugural Council meeting in April and determined the following mission:
“To gain board level recognition for marketing capabilities development as a core organisational KPI – and generative business function – which requires dedicated focus in terms of continuous monitoring and investment.” And we have set two early priorities: to develop a recognised industry definition and framework for the discipline of marketing capabilities management; and to define and promote best practices for marketing capabilities management.
For clarity, practice includes having the right technology platforms, systems and applications in place and, of course, the right “fit-for-purpose” data and analytics - supported by the full spectrum of data skills covered in The IDM Award in Data Management. As I stated at the start, the IDM is there to serve the need of the marketing community and the Council will strive to help deliver real improvements in day-to-day practice and performance by encouraging more organisational focus and investment.
Also, it is my hope as a lifetime marketer that in the process it will improve organisational recognition for marketing’s contribution as a function and a profession. Some love coming our way wouldn’t hurt, would it?