|Section: INTEGRATED MARKETING|
New definition of marketing reinforces
idea of integration
There's an old saw that goes: "If it
looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it's probably a
A wave of recognition of "looks like
and quacks like ... " rolled over me when I saw the new
American Marketing Association (AMA) definition of marketing,
released last August.
To understand my reaction, it's
important to understand the new "looks and quacks" the AMA has
introduced. For example, since 1985, the AMA had defined their
namesake as: "Marketing is the process of planning and
executing the conception, pricing, promotion and distribution
of goods, ideas and services to create exchanges that satisfy
individual and organizational goals."
That fit perfectly with the
traditional marketing mantra of the four P's: product, price,
place (or distribution) and promotion. This concept was
formalized by Jerome McCarthy, at Michigan State University in
East Lansing, in his 1957 marketing management text. And
since, has been proselytized by legions of marketing writers,
professionals, and certainly academicians. Just try to find
one marketing textbook that isn't structured around the four
But, times change, although seemingly
not very quickly. Now, the AMA, like so many other
organizations, has discovered the customer and customer
relationships. So, the new AMA definition is: "Marketing is an
organizational function and a set of processes for creating,
communicating and delivering value to customers and for
managing customer relationships in ways that benefit the
organization and its stakeholders." (See Marketing News ,
Sept. 15, 2004, cover story.)
It looks like and quacks like
something that has now been around for more than a decade. In
fact, it sounds a great deal like the principles of
integration I've been writing about in this column since
Naturally, I'm pleased to see the AMA
redefining marketing. The new focus on "customers," not on
"goods, ideas and services" is a welcome shift to who is
really important in the discipline. I'm also pleased to see a
shift from "planning and executing" to an "organizational
function and a set of processes," which hopefully will take us
from finding ever more exotic "tactics" to developing more
effective "strategies." And, the shift from "exchanges" to
longer-term "relationships" is a welcome addition, too. But,
the most critical change is the recognition that marketing is
about "the organization and its stakeholders," not just about
"creating exchanges." It was this focus on "exchanges" that
has always bothered me since these usually took the form of
short-term, promotionally driven activities at best, and
deals, discounts and price-offs, at worst.
So, marketing is seemingly headed in
the right direction. And, that direction seems to be
integration or at least more integrated, aligned and
systematized approaches than the four P's were ever able to
deliver. So, where does that leave integration?
First, it seems to say the integration
folks were way ahead of their time. Or maybe the traditional
marketing folks were just slow to change.
Either way, it's good to see marketing
finally being recognized for what it could have or should have
been, but unfortunately, for the most part, never was.
Under this new definition, marketing
is a process. Marketing is focused on customers, and hopefully
this is understood in the broadest sense of the term.
Marketing is an organizational activity, not just something a
small group of self-defined experts do. Marketing is a process
that provides returns, not just seeing who can gather and
spend the most marketing dollars in the shortest period of
time. Marketing is communicating with all relevant audiences,
not just the next billion-dollar 30-second television
commercial. Marketing is a deliverer of value. All these are
things many of us have been advocating all these many
So, today, marketing, based on the new
AMA definition, sure looks like and quacks like integrated
marketing or IMC.
So, where does that leave me?
I doubt my work is over. Take it from
someone who knows: Implementing the new definition of
marketing won't be easy. There are simply too many embedded
methodologies, approaches and people who will be loath to give
up what they believe is marketing. They will fight like tigers
to defend what has become their traditional turf. They will
challenge and balk at moving from exchanges--which are based
on short-term sales increases, market share and the like--to
"relationships," whatever that means.
They will argue and delay any moves
toward processes as they attempt to maintain the separate and
isolated internal silos that have grown up around pricing, new
product development, sales channels, trade promotion and
advertising. And they will scream like banshees when the
measurement of benefits to the organization and stakeholders
suggest that marketing must be accountable.
I know this, simply because I have
heard all this resistance and professional and academic
moaning and groaning and foot-dragging before. But if the new
marketing looks like integration and quacks like integration,
I've got lots of content and contests still to come.
By Don E. Schultz
Don E. Schultz is a professor
(emeritus-in-service) of integrated marketing communications
at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. He can be reached
at firstname.lastname@example.org or at email@example.com.