Are we asking too much of marketers and the Marketing function?

The implications for Marketing when the company|customer ‘relationship’ is viewed through SD Logic

I have been reading this deck that has been posted on Slideshare by Wim Rampen.  In this presentation Wim is making the case for looking at the business|customer ‘relationship’ through Service Dominant Logic.  In a nutshell SD logic states that service is the fundamental basis of exchange between the company and the customer; products are services in disguise – you go and buy a drill to get access to the service of drilling a hole/s, there is no intrinsic value in the drill itself.

Looking at the business|customer relationship Wim makes the following point (I have modified his language to make certain concepts clearer):

If value for the Customer is dominantly created after the value exchange (buy/sell when goods are transferred from producer to the consumer), ie. IN USE, both the scope and content of MARKETING STRATEGIES SHOULD SHIFT from dominantly focused on creating momentum for value exchange (promotion /selling) to a continuum of interactions aimed at supporting the customer’s value creation process.

Do you get it?  Wim is asking marketers and the Marketing function to shift from doing what they current do to designing and orchestrating the Customer Experience – across all interactions and touchpoints along the customer’s journey from research through to ownership and usage.    This is how Wim puts it:

Marketing  has to shift “from campaign and communication design to service experience design, end to end..”

Accepting this as the ground, the context, out of which Marketing operates, Wim goes on to spell out the key jobs that marketers and the Marketing function should be doing.

Wim Rampen: The 7 jobs that fall to the Marketing function

1. Understand customers’ value creation process (= jobs & desired outcomes) and where in the process customers fail to meet their desired outcomes;

2. Build relationships in communities of people with similar desired outcomes and behaviour;

3. Support customer’s value creation process;

4. Design experiences that stimulate engagement through interactions in networks of relationships;

5. Engage employees and partners in supporting customers in their process of value creation;

6. Extract actionable insights from 360-degree feedback to foster innovations and to turn them into value propositions that attract new customers; and

7. Redesign metrics to capture the engagement value for the firm and ensure there is high correlations between these metrics and customers value created.

Is Wim is asking too much of marketers and the Marketing function?

Lets assume that these are the jobs that need to be performed when it comes to the customer|customer relationship.  Now the question is do marketers (and the Marketing function) have the required skills to do these jobs?  Many of us would say that they do not.  Yet, that is not an issue because people who do have the skills can be brought into the Marketing function.  Do marketers have the required mindset and attitude?  That is debatable – people, as groups, are loathe to let go of their mindset, values and attitudes.  Yet, it is doable so let’s assume that marketers and the Marketing function can make that shift.

Now we come up with the more interesting question: does the Marketing function have the influence, the clout, to design and orchestrate end to end Customer Experience / “service experience design”?  Before you answer this question get present to what is being asked of the Marketing function.  The Marketing function is being asked to orchestrate the mindset, metrics and behaviour of all the functions and people in the enterprise: product development, sales, customer services, logistics, finance, human resources, information technology….  Is that realistic?  And if that task falls to the Marketing function then why have a CEO or the Board of Directors?

Look into what is so (reality) and you are likely to find that the Marketing function is simply one piece on the corporate chessboard and its mandate / role is limited to using advertising and spin to stimulate demand for the products that the corporation makes and needs to sell.   That is all that is expected of the Marketing function.  Sit with marketers and you are likely to find that they feel boxed in, limited, by the space that they are given to play in.  Only a few Marketing functions control the 4Ps – most only control one P, Promotion.  What I am pointing at is the gulf between marketing theory and the reality on the ground.

We are looking at organisational transformation and Marketing cannot lead that

Continue looking into reality and you are likely to find that the Marketing function that has little respect in the Boardroom or within the organisation in many if not the majority of companies.  If that is so then how is the Marketing function going to take the lead an, in effect, transform the organisation: product development, sales, customer services, logistics, finance, human resources, IT etc – they all have to play together to provide the kind of end to end service experience that Wim is talking about.

The role of organisational renewal and transformation belongs to the Tops (the CEO and the senior leadership team) and not the Marketing function.  Collectively the Tops need to: buy into the services dominant logic way of looking at the business; articulate an inspiring vision of the future and convert this into a blueprint; have the guts to requisition and deploy the right resources to convert that blueprint into reality; roll their sleeves up and help in turning the blueprint into reality; see it through to the end – be committed to the end goal; and be flexible and patient in going around obstacles on the path – there will be many obstacles.

If you are still in doubt over the point that I am making then ponder this: how likely is it that one of the States in the United States is in a position to influence and orchestrate the agenda / priorities / behaviour or all of the States in the United States so as to create harmony across all?  Then ask yourself if you did want that kind of harmony – say in the laws that apply – across the States then who is best placed to lead that task?  Is it really one of the States?  And if it is, which one is best placed, has the most credibility, the most influence, to bring about that kind of change?  Then ask yourself how long this process is likely to take?

Author: Maz Iqbal

Experienced management consultant. Passionate about enabling customer-centricity by calling forth the best from those that work in the organisation and the intelligent application of digital technologies. Subject matter expert with regards to customer strategy, customer insight, customer experience (CX), customer relationship management (CRM), and relationship marketing. Working at the intersection of the Customer, the Enterprise (marketing, sales, service), and Technology.

4 thoughts on “Are we asking too much of marketers and the Marketing function?”

  1. Maz,

    I agree with Wim in that for an organization to consistently deliver a superior customer experience, there needs to be a greater “marketing sense” within those other organizational functions which impact the experience (sales, delivery, support, product development, billing, etc.) .

    While marketing folks do tend to have a better “customer empathy” than other functions, they should not be required to do the lifting in those other areas. .

    In order to bridge the “marketing mindset” wtih the other functional ares, a cultural shift must take place. And to your point, the only department that can lead a cultural shift is the C-Suite. Yes, culture must grow from the ground-up, but organizational leadership must plant the seed, and direct its cultivatation.

    Best regards,
    Jim Watson
    Portland, Maine


  2. Hello Jim

    Great to hear your voice here on The Customer Blog. How are you? I hope you are great. I enjoy reading your posts!

    It occurs me to me that you and I are in agreement: we get the new need/value of the mindset that Wim is sharing and arguing for; and we get that the Marketing function, on its own, cannot do the heavy lifting that is required.

    Where we differ is our views on the Marketing function. You assert that the marketing folks tend to have better empathy than other functions. I am not as certain as you are. My experience is that marketing folks are in love with their brand and with the task of getting customers to ‘love the brand and by the products’. To me that is very different to being in love with customers and helping customers to get their jobs done and achieve their desired outcomes. For example, marketing folks rarely think beyond generating the lead or closing the sale. And I get that you and I have experienced very different marketers.

    All the best, I look forward to hearing your voice again.

    At your service / with my love


  3. Hi Maz,
    I would suggest that we are asking too much of the Marketing Dept (as it currently stands) to do all that is listed as it has implications for all areas of the business. However, I think, as Jim pointed to, we need to reevaluate what marketing is for the whole business and make a change at the very top on how we want to structure and run our businesses and for who.

    After all, marketing isn’t just campaigns anymore it is for life. Reminds me of that advert that I have often seen at Christmas where they say that a puppy isn’t just for Christmas. We can now say the same of customers and perhaps the saying should now be: A Customer isn’t just for Christmas.



  4. Hello Adrian

    I get where you are coming from. What I am saying is that you can only reevaluate the role / contribution of the Marketing dept once you have reevaluated the role / contribution of the organisation and the Tops that run it.

    Lets use an analogy. If you stick to playing chess then it is futile to reevaluate the role of the pawns or the bishop or any other piece. Within the game of chess their roles are predetermined. It is only when you change the rules of chess – it is then no longer chess – that in the process you reconsider / revise the role of the pieces. Does that make my thinking clearer?

    At your service / with my love


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