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The place of marketing in an organisation

Many a times marketers face a daunting task of fully exploiting their prowess within the organisations they function in, hence organisations are not benefitting from critical and strategic expertise that marketers have. Yet, this expertise has the potential to turn around an organisation’s prospects. Some departments fail to understand marketers, hence begrudge them as “people who want to interfere in their departments.” More so, the finance department always views marketers as spenders of the hard-earned organisational resources, who fail to prove the return on the actual money spent. Production, supply chain, logistics and human resources more often see marketers stretching their arms into their domains. Let me hasten, therefore, to say that, marketing is not a department within an organisation like HR, finance, transport and logistics, but it is a function of the entire organisation. An organisation becomes a marketing-oriented organisation if it embraces marketing in all its departments and units. This is to say that, the organisation is able to meet the needs, wants and expectations of its customers and other stakeholders in entirety.

by Gillian Rusike

The American Marketing Association (1985) defines marketing as a process of planning and executing the concept on pricing, promotion and distribution of ideas, goods and services, to create exchange that satisfies individual and organisational goals. Duve & Mupemhi (2011) concur that the above definition recognises that marketing management is a process of analysing, planning, implementation and control that is, covering goods and ideas that rest on the idea of exchange. From the simple definition above, marketing, therefore, ceases to be a department, but an actual function of the organisation because the marketer has a great contribution when it comes to pricing, promotion, product and distribution. In fact, this is the day-to-day dashboard of the marketers and the barometer they use to measure their success. The accountant can come up with a price based on costs, but the marketer will influence that decision based on what competition is also charging, based on the kind of promotion they want to embark on or based on the perception of the customers.

The marketers have so much interest in the purchasing and supply departments of the organisation as they fully understand the quality expectations of the customers which the organisation are serving. The marketers’ executions are purely premised on the feedback they obtain from the customers. If the sentiments are for example on the poor quality of the product, the purchasing and production departments will be summoned by the marketer, to ensure that a tailor-made product is produced that meets the expectations of the customers.

Place utility is furthermore much critical for the marketer in ensuring that goods and services are delivered on time and at the most convenient place. Marketers have a daunting task of ensuring that all the needs of the customers are satisfied and at the same time, that the organisation achieves its objectives.

In this respect, many organisations make a very dangerous mistake of alienating marketing to a department and expect miracles to happen. Marketing is the engine room that ensures that the organisational objectives are achieved and at the same time, the needs and wants of the customers are also met. A marketer is a chief strategist of the organisation as his or her task is to ensure that the two critical stakeholders’ needs are satisfied

Critically important is for organisations to realise that marketing is not selling. There is a clear distinction between marketing and sales. However, it is important to emphasise that just like advertising, public relations, customer service and direct marketing, sales falls under marketing. All activities that entice customers to be aware and generate interest in a company’s products and services are planned and executed by a marketer, who then assigns a sales guy to go and convert that interest into sales. In other words, a marketer identifies a market for the organisation’s products or services, then tailor-makes the company’s offering based on the needs of that specific market. Once the offer has been tailor made, then sales people are dispatched to go close sales. In essence, it is not normal to have two directors managing the two functions because you are creating an unnecessary conflict and wastage of resources within the organisation. It is as good as having a director of public relations or advertising within an organisation that has a director of marketing. All these are the functions of marketing.

Against this background, marketing plays a central role in ensuring that the organisation achieves its objectives. All other departmental strategies need to complement the strategic marketing plan of the organisation. HR strategy naturally should follow after the marketing strategy has been outlined because marketing is going to determine the level of activity during different periods of the year. When there is a great promotion ahead, it will follow that HR might need to employ extra hands to assist in the high demand generated or that employees would need to work extra hours. If it means there will be a necessary training to equip the employees about the new product or increased capacity, it is the marketing function that sets the tone. I am not taking away the critical role of HR practitioners, but I am saying that when it comes to the overall execution of tasks within the organisation, marketing has an overall oversight all together.

This then follows the notions that everyone within the organisation is a marketer. Naturally, yes, because it is the employees of the organisation who are the first ambassadors of their organisation. Every employee needs to fully embrace and appreciate activities of the organisation. They need to be in a position to defend sentiments expressed about their organisation from the external people, hence being the marketer referred to. For a marketing oriented organisation, everyone should be a representative of their organisation and its offerings. There is no way an employee of an organisation should be seen purchasing or comfortably consuming a service or product from a competitor of their organisation, especially when wearing corporate wear. The employee is clearly sending a wrong message that what the organisation produces is of poor quality and does not meet their expectation. Marketing professionals are merely there to play an oversight role of planning, co-ordinating and executing the strategies of the organisation to achieve the objectives outlined.

Gillian Rusike is the executive secretary of Marketers’ Association of Zimbabwe. Rusike was appointed secretary-general of the African Marketing Confederation (AMC), an amalgamation of marketing associations across the continent. He also sits on the board for the following companies: Entrepreneurial Development Trust Africa), Zimbabwe All Media Research Foundation, Property Views Estate Agents Limited, and G & A Logistics Limited. He is also the founder of Gillian and Associates Publishers which is responsible for the publication of the ground breaking People of Zimbabwe Handbook as well as other magazines.

This article was contributed on behalf of the Marketers Association of Zimbabwe, a leading body of marketing professionals promoting professionalism to the highest standards for the benefit of the industry and the economy at large. For any further information, kindly contact mazmembership@mazim.co.zw or visit the website on www.maz.co.zw. Follow this column, we will be further developing how to apply effective marketing strategies as well as other marketing matters.

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