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October 15, 2012
Marketing is More Than a Department
As a marketer (yes, I’m biased) I find it odd that marketing executives are often not listed in the leadership sections of company websites. CEOs, CFOs, COOs, HR heads, and even IT leaders are highlighted, but the CMOs are nowhere to be found. I find this to be completely ridiculous!
In my opinion, marketing is more than a department or division of a company. Marketing should be at the center of the organization. Consider this scenario — if you eliminate each and every function of a company, what ultimately generates business? Customers. Customers drive sales. And sales, hopefully, lead to profits. And profits create value, which leads to higher stock prices.
So without customers, the company would cease to exist. And without marketing, there wouldn’t be any customers.
If I had the power to rework how all companies are structured, I would use the fundamentals of marketing (the Four Ps plus one) to configure the departments:
1. PRODUCT — research and development
2. PRICE — finance
3. PLACE — operations and logistics
4. PROMOTION — sales, marketing, and information technology
5. PEOPLE — administrative and human resources
If you consider the definition of marketing to be, “the ongoing development of relationships with customers in order to drive the business,” then structuring your company in this way makes perfect sense. The Product department would be solely focused on designing products and/or services that satisfy customers’ unmet needs. The Price team would ensure that the revenues generated by products and services sold to customers allowed for a healthy profit. The people in charge of Place would work to design an organizational operating system that satisfied customers’ every need and want.
Of course, the Promotion department (now commonly known as the Marketing department) would develop an integrated program to create a seamless brand experience for customers and ensure that the proper data was captured and analyzed to make optimizations that would improve the customer journey. And lastly but arguably most importantly, the People division would work diligently to hire and manage employees across the organization that always kept the customers’ best interests in mind.
In a recent article on Forbes.com titled, “The CMO Is Dead,” this excerpt gets to exactly what I’m saying:
Get rid of the CMO title, because nobody understands it. Create the new title of CCO Chief Customer Officer. This person must be the voice of the customer in the organization, taking views and messages from the market and spreading them internally.
I love the concept that the leader of the company should be the “voice of the customer.” That would ensure that all organizational decisions were made to benefit the customer versus shareholders or employees or other interest groups (which is too often the case). A marketer is best suited to serve in this role because her background is based on having the knowledge and insights needed to understand customers and their behavior.
If business organizations used marketing principles to form their departmental structure, customers would certainly be the focus of each department. This, I believe, is how it should be, since customers are ultimately the reason why the business was established in the first place.

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Emily K. Howarda marketing strategist since 1997, developed her skills at some of the country’s top marketing firms including DDB Worldwide, while working on brands like American Airlines, Pepsi, Bloomberg and Merck. Now as Vice President of Esparza, Emily’s integrated communications approach helps clients find order in marketing chaos. She’d love to hear from you and can be found on LinkedIn or @ekhoward on Twitter.
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