Here at Open Marketing, we’re kind of known for asking the big, hairy, audacious questions. You know the kind of questions I mean. The ones everyone is afraid to ask. But that tend to linger long after you thought the discussion was over … the proverbial “elephants in the room”.

One of those questions is whether marketing even is relevant in today’s times. A startling number of start ups are finding their way to market without the benefit of a marketing VP, something unheard of during the last bubble.

 

Web 2.0 Start ups

In actuality, marketing matters more and not less than ever before. Web 2.0 start ups may well be an anomoly. Let me explain. In a start up, often the Chief Marketing Officer is the CEO. After all, in a start up the most important thing—often the only thing that defines success or failure— is to figure out if there is market for your product or service. Many great companies have been founded, gotten funding, and attracted a brilliant executive team only to bite the dust some 2, 3, or 5 years later. Why? The product or service provided turned out to appeal to too few customers. So figuring out how to craft the company’s offering to appeal to the maximum number of customers is the key job of the CEO in the early days of a company’s lifecycle, a job you can’t necessarily delegate. (Thankfully, you can ask for professional help … either by hiring in a VP of Marketing or by hiring on a consultant or two.)

Extreme Competition

The more established your company, the more likely it is that marketing is a key source of competitive advantage. Why? Because of extreme competition. Extreme competition is a term that got introduced into the business lexicon courtesy of the nice folks of McKinsey Consulting. It is characterized by an oversupply of almost everything. Labor is cheap. Technology is ubiquitous. The economy is now global, making it imperative that companies locate manufacturing plants and R&D centers based on these fundamental economics. In these “white knuckle” times, the one thing not in oversupply is customers.

Companies that declare that they are now customer focused due to a recent investment in CRM software are not telling us anything new or very different. The reality is that every company must focus on its customers (getting customers, keeping them, and growing them in value) to survive and prosper.

Suddenly marketing matters. Not just to marketing people and their agencies but to CEOs, CFOs, and their Board of Directors (BODs). Companies that figure out how to market better—that is more efficiently, effectively, and by bringing new products to market that gain rapid customer acceptance with superior margins—will consistently outperform their peers. In other words, they’ll get—and keep—competitive advantage.

Competitive advantage comes to companies that not only make marketing matter but that also build continuous improvement and learning into the systems that they use to manage marketing performance.

This is our vision here at OpenMarketing and one we look forward to sharing with you should you become our client.