Marketing Needs Marketing

Here’s a question worth asking: if the marketing industry was a brand, how would it be faring these days? Would the brand tracking report be inspiring high fives or long, dark nights of the soul? Would market share be booming or bottoming out? Let’s take a moment to pause and reflect.

  • recent study in the UK found that only 3% of students 18-24 saw marketing as an attractive career option. Not a strong showing.

  • Research by the ANA confirms the problem and points to a few root causes: constantly evolving skill requirements, higher education not keeping pace and more competition for talent from tech firms and big consultancies.
  • All of these causes ring true. But there are a few more things working against our industry. For one, there’s the small matter of digital advertising’s implication in the ongoing decline of global democracy.
  • And then there’s the fact—not unrelated—that we’re currently in the midst of a very public existential crisis. A bit of naval gazing is probably needed right about now (see that whole decline of democracy thing) but it’s not terribly attractive to recent grads.
  • Not an insignificant set of challenges. But don’t count us out yet. Thomas Barta thinks marketing can transcend these obstacles by aiming higher, aspiring to be nothing less than “the central function that steers the firm’s strategy based on customer needs. The CEO’s right hand.” Sounds good to us.
  • Seth Godin’s take on aiming higher breaks the marketing industry into two opposite types: “The selfish marketer is marketing at us. The successful marketer is marketing with us and for us.” We don’t need to tell you which one is more attractive to a recent grad looking for meaningful work, do we?
  • Speaking of meaningful, it could be argued that the very best way to burnish marketing’s brand is show what it’s capable of at its best—taking real risks and doing work that has weight, significance and cultural impact. AND leads to increased sales. So thank you Nike. You probably just won us all few percentage points.
A new Nike advertisement features former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick. [Via MerlinFTP Drop]
Sep 16, 2018

Further Reading

  • February 2, 2020

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