Has marketing failed to professionalise?

One of the most infuriating parts of being a marketer is that everyone feels they can ‘do marketing’ as well as you can, and do not hold back in volunteering their opinions.

Secret Marketer

Like many businesses, my brand has a few vans and lorries. While not many, as this is not core to our business, we have some to take components from factory to customer and back. The general manager of that part of our business thought recently it would be a great investment (of my budget) to cover his vans in our latest advertising campaign.

I pointed out that we weren’t actually contemplating outdoor advertising, that his handful of vehicles would be seen by about 0.001 per cent of our target audience, that his perception that van advertising is free is actually far from the truth, given artwork, design and vinyl application, and that the canvas that is a fast-moving van is not conducive to conveying the technical message we use in our current press/online ads. Not to mention that my experience suggests few people take much notice of an advert on a passing white van beyond the name and, perhaps, the URL (both of which I’m happy to support).

But what do I know? Many emails, meetings and papers later, the idea is still smouldering. It was only by my calling in my International Brand Police to rule that it could not be done that I finally won – although it was still thrown back at me in a meeting yesterday as an example of where I was failing to bend corners for the good of the (local) business.

I wonder if my finance colleagues get dragged into the same debates – that there’s a different way to add up these days. Or if my legal colleagues are told they have misinterpreted the law. In both cases, of course, the answer is no. They have convinced the business their discipline is complicated and that inexperienced meddlers should keep out. Why have we failed to do the same with marketing – is it because we welcome engagement and a good discussion? Or is it that we have failed to professionalise marketing? 

It worries me, and it’s something I want to return to in coming weeks.

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