Thanks to Paul at BrandAutopsy for the following comment to my post on the role of marketing:
One of the reasons the role of marketing is complicated to put in its own crate is that, while there is a department at the company with that name, marketing activity isn’t necessarily limited to only that department.
We’ve been using the word ‘customer’ to primarily describe the end-user of the product or service a company offers. However, within an organization, the sales force is a customer of the product team. The product team ‘hires’ the creative team to develop collateral. The operations team counts on the finance folks to help develop the sales targets.
To maximize effectiveness, each department in an organization would utilize marketing practices and ‘internal’ consumer insights. This would ensure they were delivering a product or service that met the specific need of an internal customer with the same fervor as they would an external customer.
Great clarification. This is why I like the word 'stakeholder'... too often we equate 'customer' with only the person who actually purchases and uses the product. I've been thinking about the term "relationship catalyst" as it applies to the marketing department. As Paul points out, everyone in the company *should* have a marketing mentality, but unfortunately that's not often a real-life scenario. Marketing has to get the ball rolling (or the CEO as 'top marketing guy', as John Moore notes in his excellent continuation of this dialogue on marketing). I see marketing's role as catalyzing communication and relationships between stakeholders by:
1. educating all departments on customer insights
2. educating all departments on how they can deliver on the customer-centric brand promise
3. providing 'dialogue tools' to customer-facing departments like sales and customer service (ie. brochures, presentations, scripts, etc.)
4. building dialogue/relationship platforms (ie. web site, loyalty programs, etc.)
5. developing brand promise and message strategies that invite customers into a dialogue/relationship
6. developing pricing/promotion strategies that meet customer requirements for entering into a dialogue or relationship.
7. raising awareness of the relationship opportunities between the company and prospective customers, employees and investors.
As Tom Asacker pointed out in his entertaining comment, Marketing's the party organizer. We're the hub of the wheel, touching everything, mailing out the invitations and making sure the party's a hit.