The subject of marketing orientation prompted some lively debate last week in Zurich. The occasion was a Marketing Colloquium which I ran for the Zurich University of Applied Sciences’ International Executive MBA programme.
The students were smart people, holding senior positions in areas such as engineering, law, IT and accounting. The aim of the colloquium was to establish a baseline level of marketing knowledge in preparation for the course. During the colloquium, we discussed the trend over the last century from production, to product, to sales and ultimately a marketing orientation. Of course, not all firms have embraced a marketing orientation and I have previously blogged on the likes of Kodak and Santander.
In simple terms, a selling orientation implies selling what you make while the mantra of a marketing orientation is to make what you can sell. Last week I was asked whether a marketing orientation implies that the organisation be run by marketers; I will return that later.
But first of all, how can you tell if a firm has achieved a marketing orientation. Here is a checklist, with thanks to Messrs Lancaster and Massingham:
- Is there a good understanding of customer needs and behaviour patterns?
- Is the enterprise profit rather than volume driven?
- Is the Chief Exec closely involved in marketing strategy?
- Does the enterprise have a market-driven mission?
- Do strategies reflect the realities of the marketplace – including competition?
- Is marketing seen to be as important as other functions such as production and R&D?
- Is the enterprise organised so that it can be more responsive to marketing opportunities than competitors?
- Is there a well-designed and well used marketing information system?
- Do executives make full use of market research in their decision making?
- Is marketing expenditure properly analysed in relation to its outcomes?
- Is there an alignment between marketing and the development of new products and services?
- Does the organisation employ professionally qualified marketers rather than simply sales staff?
- Are decisions with marketing implications made in a co-ordinated way and executed in an integrated manner?
Adopting a marketing orientation is a long haul. In my next blog, I will discuss how this can be achieved. But back to the original question: “Should marketers run the enterprise?” Perhaps, but do remember that marketing is much too important to just be left to the marketing department.