Banish the “M” Word!

by Lilia Shirman on March 9, 2011

in Marketing

I think we should banish the term “Marketing.”

Here’s why. I gave a presentation recently on Marketing 101 for entrepreneurs, and had listed a dozen types of marketing. We had a long discussion of which marketer does what, when to hire, what to outsource, and how it all fits together. At the end one new CEO asked, “So, why do people say they do Marketing?”

Good question. Even back when my job title had Marketing in it, I was never comfortable telling people, “I’m in marketing.” My answer was always more complicated. I realized why when I read April Dunford’s insightful recent post, in which April describes the complexity and diversity of “Marketing” and how these lead to bad hiring decisions, unmet expectations, and marketing failures. Then I knew what to do. The way to simplify marketing is to abolish it! Not the activity, but the word.

Here’s April’s list of what falls into Marketing:

The first step to hiring a great marketer (and for marketers to hird a job they won’t suck at) is to clearly understand what you mean by “marketing”. It’s a multi-faceted job that can include (but doesn’t always!):
1. Advertising
2. Branding
3. Product Management
4. Lead Generation
5. Install base/Customer engagement strategy and tactics
6. Inbound Marketing and/or SEO
7. Sales Support
8. Market Strategy
9. Messaging/Positioning
10. Channel strategy/management/marketing
11. Partnerships and partner marketing
12. Media and Analyst Relations
13. Content strategy and creation
14. Other stuff that I don’t even know about

It overlaps but does not duplicate my list, which included Event Management, Solutions Marketing, Industry / Vertical Marketing, Customer Intelligence, etc. Marketing is an umbrella for so many different skill sets and functions. Calling them all one thing is akin to calling anyone who works at a product company but outside R&D as being a “business person.” It’s meaningless.

Try it out for a day – see if you can avoid using the “M” word, at least by itself. Then let me know if you spent less time clarifying and explaining what you meant.

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