Apparently no-one in FS knows what marketing is. Not even marketers.

As the countdown continues to the launch of my financial services marketing book No Small Change, co-written with leading challenger banker and old friend Anthony Thomson, it’s time for these blogs to start working harder to build up a frenzy of pre-launch excitement.  Hence this effort, which previews some of the book’s findings from the research we carried out among senior financial services marketing people.

This isn’t the place for detailed facts and figures, but, long story short, one of our key question areas was to do with the activities which respondents thought did, and indeed did not, fall within the remit of marketing.  To do so, our questions were built around the good old tried-and-tested “Seven Ps”, the list made up of Product, Price, Promotion, People, Place, Process and the slightly incongruous Physical Evidence (a list I now know so well that I can write down all seven without hesitation or need to check Wikipedia for the one I’ve forgotten).  How many of these areas should come under the control of marketers, we asked.  And in your business at the moment, how many currently do?

Well, you’ll be pleased to hear that there was one area of very-near-unanimous agreement.  Almost everyone agreed that Promotion should come under the control of marketers (although you can’t help wondering about the one or two respondents who thought it shouldn’t).

But the other two headline findings are less pleasing.  First, there was an extraordinary and extreme divergence of views on the other six areas.   Some felt sure that marketers should control them all.  Some thought that marketers had no business controlling any of them.  Some thought marketers should control some, but not others, Some thought they should control others, but not some.  You get the picture.

And second, almost everyone thought that in their own firms currently, marketers had a lot less overall control of these areas than they should.

What do we conclude from all this?  First, that marketers themselves are still unclear and disunited on the extent of their remit.  Should marketers control, or at least have influence over, everything that touches the customer?  Or is their job only to promote propositions developed by others?

And if we’re unclear, it’s hardly surprising if a) others are unclear too, and b)  in the absence of any visible boundaries they feel free to park their tanks across as much of our lawn as possible, leaving us only with the corner called “promotion.”

It would be interesting to replicate the research outside financial services.  Anthony and I can both remember working for FMCG client companies where the centrality of marketing was universally recognised three decades ago, and I’m sure that any further change since then has only been in one direction.

But here in FS there’s still a long way to go – and that’s as true for us marketers ourselves as it is for our colleagues in other parts pf the business. And that – to sum up the whole story in a well-known and painful phrase – is why, even today, in so many firms we’re still known as “the colouring-in department.”

6 thoughts on “Apparently no-one in FS knows what marketing is. Not even marketers.

  1. Hello Lucian

    Very nice blog and I’m looking forward to the book launch. There is another ‘P’ which marketers should control and that is packaging.
    My question is as follows; if marketers are not controlling all of the ‘P’s then what are they doing all day?
    Best wishes

  2. Interesting observations Lucian. I don’t believe there is any (well nearly any) right or wrong answer to this. Every organisation has a different set up with different teams and resources to call on. Where Marketing’s official input lies is less important, to my mind anyway, than the overall influence we have on the business. Influencing decision making is as important as owning it and often easier. But where Marketing should always stand apart from the business is constantly ensuring brand and customer guardianship. Surely more marketer can argue with that!

  3. Maybe the one or two respondents who didn’t recognise Promotion as a function of marketing think that it belongs in HR.

    Anyway, when is this book finally coming out, Lucian? I remember you telling about it when we last met – which I think was over 3 years ago?

  4. I know, I know. Actually it’s not quite that bad – it was just about exactly two years ago that Anthony Thomson and I started talking about it, and I started writing it in October 2016 . Even so, that fact is that it was basically written by September last year, and since then there has been a tremendous amount of dicking about going on. (Not by the authors, for the avoidance of doubt.) Anyway, barring last minute dramas, we are now well into the final countdown – copies should be available right at the end of this month, and our launch events are scheduled for the first week of June.

    You’re more than welcome to attend, of course – but I think it might be a rather long journey for a glass of lukewarm sauvignon?

  5. If this book kills off product brochures and eradicates the alternative 7 P’s I see in financial services every day,I will be very happy.
    Prior planning and preparation ,prevents p*** poor performance!

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