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.”