Marketing is often referred to as a broad discipline. Charles Nixon, founder of the Cambridge Marketing College, explained in his book 'Philosophy', that marketing extends far beyond just meeting a customer's needs. It touches every area of a business or organisation and understanding what good marketing is requires an understanding of how it has evolved.
Marketing specialists, whether in-house or at an agency, have a unique authority when it comes to business planning. This authority is determined by the insights marketers gain from understanding the market the company exists in. Best practice auditing techniques result in knowledge of the market, customers and the competition.
Nixon put it best when he wrote, "Within a company, finance departments have power and exercise authority because they understand the 'numbers'. Production has authority because they understand the mechanics of creation. Marketing, in order to be meaningful, needs authority and this must come from knowledge of the market."
Working as an ambassador for the customer lies at the heart of ethical marketing. It goes further than just adopting a market centred approach and encourages marketers to act as the social conscience of a company or organisation. As marketers, we sit within the environment in which we operate and as such should work to encourage change that is for the benefit of society. We stand up for the good of the customer, which is what cultivates real trust between an organisation and consumers.
These are perhaps overly used words in the marketing world, but if you can put your cynicism on pause, the work we do really does have the power to make meaningful changes. Championing the customer is balanced with providing goods and services that we know will make their life better, because of our understanding of the possibilities. Henry Ford changed American business forever and was once asked his views on customer research. He famously said, "If I'd asked my customers what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse." His vision surpassed what his customers thought they wanted. Yes, customer research is important, but marketers are able to look beyond this and invent stuff we never knew we wanted. iPhone anyone?
Marketing is evolutionary in its nature. As it is sensitive to so many variables, ranging from the stock market to new technological advancements, we're able to continually adapt in order to improve. The communication model between consumer and organisation is an excellent example of how technology, and the opportunities it gives us as marketers, has changed the way we interact with organisations.
Companies who used marketing to sell as much of their product/service as possible utilised purely outward facing communication strategies. Their interest in understanding their customers was purely used to increase sales.
Over time, companies identified that customers didn't always recognise what they wanted or what was feasible. As a result, marketing was used more and more to inform customers of the possibilities, just like in the Henry Ford example above.
Today, good marketers understand the value of a two-way relationship with customers. They appreciate that customer feedback should be valued and used to improve the organisation and its offering.