Doc Searls has an interesting, albeit provocative, article in the Linux Journal, tiled “Markets without Marketing” (via Horse:Pig:Cow, which has a great follow-up post on it, as does Hugh, who also disagrees).
The article has a number of sweeping market observations, predictions and recommendations – many of which are fairly controversial :
- One of the biggest problems with marketing is that it all too often focuses on “capturing and holding customers, rather than “finding and satisfying customer needs”.
- As markets are becoming truly free, we do not have much, if any, need for marketing. Marketing should get out of the way and let engineers talk directly with the customers who will be using the product.
- Advertising is going to die and PR is already dead
- Markets have evolved from conversations to relationships – which will require new skills and will get supported by the new tools
- Marketing needs to get out of the website construction business – it should all get replaced with wikis, blogs, and other direct linkage between information about the products and the customer
- Trade shows can be useful, but please do not send marketing folks
- Nothing is worse that vaporware and yet that is what marketing pushes
- Marketing does not know how you make money with technology or products – but engineering does. And besides, the real question is to understand how you will make money “because” of the technology… not “with” it.
Wow – Doc must have been seriously hit over the head by an old-school marketing spin-meister 🙂
It is true that many marketers are clueless and deserve the bad rap that they are getting. But more often than not, that behavior comes from the very top – with CEO’s, CFO’s and other VP’s expecting marketing folks to do unnatural acts, and getting rid of them if they do not deliver the same old stuff.
Of course, marketing needs to get out of the way. It cannot be a bureaucratic wall between the customer and the company. But there is a huge gap between hearing what the customer says, and building successful products. Engineering has to have first line of communications with the customer. But while that may bring many advantages – ranging from a better understanding of customer needs by the people who are actually building the product, to better morale in the engineering team – this by itself will not lead to great product plans! You need very special skills and training to be able to turn market opportunities into successful product strategies.
And of course, we need to get rid of no-value web sites and replace them with linkages to the information sources that matter and enhance them with tools to enable various people inside and outside the company to talk and communicate with one another. But shouldn’t you have someone in charge of that? Or do you believe that a free-for-all environment will result in an infrastructure where the customer will find what they need in a timely fashion?
And yes – marketing is too often focused on “capturing and holding customers, rather than “finding and satisfying customer needs”.” As John Hagel says, they need to move from the 3I’s (intercept, insulate, and inhibit) to the 3 A’s (attract, assist, and affiliate) – no question about it! But shouldn’t you have someone take the lead in that?
Look, you can argue that you do not really need a marketing department – and for practical reasons, I think you do. But you cannot argue that a company should have no marketing. Marketing is what a company should do. Everyone within the company should wear a marketing hat!
And yes, neo was right – “the problem is choice!”