Marketing is the method and not the goal
It happens quite often to refer to Marketing as a set of procedures and theories that must be literally followed with no possibility to step out of the frame. However, it is important to consider Marketing as an instrument and not as a goal.
As it has been highlighted multiple times in this blog, working in the Marketing field has become as difficult as walking on ice: as a result of the many scandals and investigations that happened in the last decades involving several well-known brands, public opinion has begun to associate Marketing with “selling baloney at any cost”. Communication methods have changed and contents are often not well linked to the identity of the brand. Consumers, and the public in general, have started to become suspicious and to look for a verification of brands declarations.
Hence, developing further Marketing theories without going back to the purpose of Marketing and deep inside brands DNA is not going to be effective. We have seen how the transformations occurred in the last decades have changed the whole framework and how it is necessary to regain a balance in the relationship between brands and customers.
Many researchers, experts and professionals have engaged in developing new theories, methods and models. As long as those contributions are based on reasoning and logic, and when they are responding to the growing need of society for new business models based on strong and shared values, all of them can be considered useful.
Despite the availability of many inspiring theories, in practice during the last decades business has evolved at a rapid pace and not always in the best interest of its stakeholders, bringing Marketing along in a spiral of loss of focus and values. “By focusing on the desires that it has created itself, marketing has become insane” (1). To find a solution prof. Florence Touzé in her book Implicative Marketing suggests to embrace a “lucid, open, constructive, responsible, and respectful approach capable of re-establishing the confidence undermined by past and current practices”. Moving toward a sustainable model of marketing requires a change in consumer: “Contemporary marketing shows us how difficult it is to call into question rules that have been rendered obsolete by incessant economic and social development.[…] Marketing, a big, crazy way of thinking and doing, is both the offspring and parent of an economic system that is flying full speed ahead with nobody at the controls” (1).
What we, as marketers, must keep in mind is not to lose focus on the object of our work, which is not Marketing itself but the creation of value, processes, fair and organised value chains, and an extended form of contribution for markets and society.
Many companies are inclined to consider value as a self-existing economical element connected to the financial results of a company. But, as we have seen multiple times in this blog as well as in cited researches, ethics as a constitutional part of a brand’s identity is a source for the creation of value and it translates also in a financial benefit for companies in the long-term.
If this is true, how do companies end up destroying value? This happens mostly when there is a tendency to ignore parts or aspects of the business and to consider them as non-fundamental.
Some of the causes of value destruction (financial and non-financial) can be identified as follows:
– Ignoring existing issues;
– Having a partial knowledge of the value chain;
– Acting in disrespect of the Triple Bottom Line (People, Planet, Profit);
– Neglecting stakeholders remarks and demands;
– Looking for public approval by means of green- and social-washing.
Choosing to employ sustainable Marketing principles means working in the direction of value creation at all stages of the Marketing plan.
After all the scandals that have shaken industries and upset customers, it is necessary to have an open discussion and to refocus on the object of our work, remembering that success is always the result of a teamwork and, therefore, it needs the point of view of all stakeholders involved.
As coordinators of a complex planning involving different company departments, marketers must remain authors of transformation and translators of fundamental values. In this process the principles of the Triple Bottom Line must be integrated in all decision with the employment of an ethics-based filter in each step of the process. In this sense, Company Social Responsibility becomes the result of a shared cooperation among departments and the core of the business, and it is deployed along the creation or regeneration of the brand under the coordination of the Marketing department.
Remembering these principles is fundamental as they let Marketing be what it really is: a method to discover and materialise the identity of a brand.
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(1) TOUZÉ Florence, Implicative Marketing. For a sustainable economy, Routledge Focus, 2020.