Photo credit: Flickr user WorldSkills via photopin cc
Whether you write code, collect payment, negotiate contracts or recruit new employees, we’re all in Marketing. Wikipedia defines Marketing as “the process of communicating the value of a product or service to customers, for the purpose of selling the product or service.”
While this definition is suited for businesses, cause-based organizations (e.g. non-profits, schools, universities, etc.) have Marketing teams as well. For them, the first half of the definition applies: “the process of communicating value.”
Explicit vs. Implicit Communication
Photo credit: Flickr user Saint Huck via photopin cc
We often think of “communicating” as an explicit action: I’m speaking to you or sending you an email; communication, however, is quite often implicit. Think about body language. It’s not an explicit form of communication. In fact, you’re often not conscious of what your body is “saying.” But body language tells us all a lot about how you’re feeling.
The same holds true for Marketing:
Engineering & Development
Now, let’s consider these functions individually.
I suppose it’s a given that the Marketing team does marketing. But here’s something some marketers may not consider: while you can help fuel demand for product and facilitate the sale, your job doesn’t end there. Marketing can play a strategic role in the important post-sale activities of onboarding and retention. Even after a sale is made, Marketing needs to continue the “process of communicating value.”
What does Sales do? They sell. They close. But Marketing does a little selling. And Sales does a little Marketing. Sales is most effective when “the process of communicating value” occurs throughout the selling process and continues post-sale. And that means the sales rep is continually doing “marketing.”
Photo credit: Flickr user EcoVirtual via photopin cc
I place Support in the explicit camp, but they really straddle both camps. They’re explicit in the amount of direct communication they provide. They’re implicit, though, in their communication of value. They don’t actively “pitch” or “market,” but they communicate (deliver) value in the actions they provide and the effectiveness of their service.
Photo credit: Flickr user Dave Dugdale via photopin cc
Finance has far more touch points with customers than many think. They negotiate payment terms, collect payments and get in touch with customers when payment is overdue. The process by which a customer interacts with Finance can be as important as the underlying product.
For instance, an online ordering and payment system (set up by Finance) can simplify the process of doing business, thereby retaining more customers. The presentation of information on an invoice (and its accuracy!) can be important to some customers. In both cases, Finance provides an implicit communication (delivery) of value.
Similar to Finance, the touch points from the Legal team shape the customer experience. Everything from the manner in which a contract is negotiated (to the contract itself) is an implicit communication of value.
The HR team partners with the executive team to help define and shape the culture of the organization. When HR recruits new members to the team, they’re doing marketing. To convince candidates to accept job offers, HR needs to communicate the “value” that the organization provides.
In addition, the culture that HR helps shape is fundamental to the value (both explicit and implicit) that gets communicated and delivered to prospects and customers.
Engineering & Development
Good products market themselves and result in repeat customers. Yes, developers: the hundreds of lines of code you wrote today? That was, in a sense, marketing. Welcome to the team.
Information Technology (IT)
Information Technology can “touch” both inward-facing and outside-facing systems. For inward-facing systems, IT provides the critical resources that “Marketing” depends on. Legal, Sales, Finance, etc. cannot communicate value if these systems are not available.
For outside-facing systems (e.g. the infrastructure supporting a SaaS business), IT directly impacts the value delivered to the end customer, in the form of service availability and performance.
The next time someone asks what you do for a living, tell them: “Marketing.” Then, explain why.