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Four theses on the future of marketing



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Four theses on the future of marketing


Lately one has heard and read more and more that marketing is in crisis and is losing influence in the company as a result. Just recently, Christian Thunig wrote precisely at this point: “What you can definitely state in the first step is that the term“ marketing ”is in a crisis, because unfortunately it has negative connotations. When the word “marketing” is mentioned, many people immediately associate “marketing gimmicks”, “secret seducers” or manipulation. So nothing really serious. ”But that wasn’t always the case.

I can still remember my studies at the Johannes Kepler University in Linz in the late 1980s / early 1990s, where Professor Ernest Kulhavy taught us that we have to understand marketing in terms of holistic, market-oriented corporate management. But what is the reality and the future of marketing? We should look at the following four theses:

Thesis 1: Marketing as a holistic discipline is dead

If you look at a marketing stand-up today, regardless of whether it is a “Kotler” or a “Meffert”, then marketing encompasses virtually the entire company, from planning to goals and strategies to implementation and control. This essentially corresponds to what we students were taught back then in Linz.
But if you look at the area of ​​responsibility of many marketing directors or – to put it more modernly – many CMOs, you have to admit that these days they are usually “better” communications managers who are responsible for advertising, budgets and cooperation with various service providers . From this perspective, one can say that marketing as a holistic discipline is dead.

Thesis 2: Marketing as a function remains

Even if marketing as a discipline is pushed more and more towards only the fourth P (promotion), the function of marketing manager or CMO will of course be retained. Because this communication task is generally becoming more and more complex and complicated today. Two major developments are contributing to this: Firstly, the media and thus also the communication options are increasing, especially through the Internet. Second, the number of specialist service providers is also growing. In this way, the marketing manager in the company is increasingly becoming an integration figure in order to create the optimal order for the company in this complexity. Marketing as a (also co-determining) function will certainly remain in place.

Thesis 3: Branding is becoming the new, overarching integration discipline

In contrast to marketing, branding does not claim to include all areas of the company. Branding is more of a kind of “guiding principle” or “guiding principle”. The aim is to define the brand and derive the brand positioning from it. It is as if a binding guideline for the company and its areas has to be defined and specified.
If the BMW brand stands for “driving pleasure”, then this does have an impact on product policy, price policy, communication policy and sales policy, but therefore these areas do not have to be an integral part of branding in the sense of a branding department. Because that was and is exactly the problem with marketing. They wanted to be both: a guideline for everything and, at the same time, as the marketing department, to have partial operational responsibility for all four Ps. (What is left for the other functions in the company?)

Proposition 4: Branding is a task, not necessarily a function

However, a company does not necessarily need a branding department. Rather, branding has to be seen as a necessary strategic task that has to be anchored at management level. Because only an anchoring at the highest management level can ensure that the brand and brand positioning are holistically lived in the company by all areas.
This is further promoted by the fact that more and more decision-makers in companies are aware of the advantages of a strong brand or studies underpin the importance of a strong brand for long-term corporate success. A study by Simon-Kucher & Partners recently showed that a strong brand makes a significant contribution to ensuring that companies have pricing power, i.e. the strength to enforce their prices on the market. From that point of view, it could even be hugely damaging to branding if marketing departments were renamed to branding departments. Otherwise branding threatens to drift only in the direction of communication.

From the sub-discipline to the leading discipline

Conclusion: If you read marketing books from the 1960s or even from the 1970s, you will find the term branding as a sub-discipline of product policy. At that time, branding mainly meant naming, logo and design. Today in our overcrowded markets, this sub-discipline is increasingly becoming a real leading discipline for holistically aligning companies and brands. And marketing becomes a sub-discipline of branding. The future of marketing is called branding.

About the author: Brand strategist Michael Brandtner is the specialist in strategic brand positioning and an associate in the Al Ries consultancy network. He is also the author of the book “Brandtner on Branding” and co-author of the eBook “Visueller Hammer”, which was published in April this year. His brand blog: www.brandtneronbranding.com.

Read all of Michael Brandtner’s columns.