Marketing extends well beyond the marketing department

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Marketing extends well beyond the marketing department

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Vice President

“Marketing is too important to be left to the marketing department.” – HP co-founder David Packard

In my recent post about a ‘new’ marketing model (illustrated below) I was not clear about an important point: this is a company-wide model for Marketing, not merely a framework for the marketing department. The marketing performed by Apple, Amazon and American Express is not limited to the activities within its marketing department. This post should help clarify.

First, however, it is important to take three principles into account. (Capitalized ‘Marketing’ refers to the discipline of marketing, as opposed to the tasks typically performed by a marketing department.)

    • Marketing is a philosophy of business.To paraphrase Peter Drucker, Marketing starts on the outside – with the customer – and works its way in, defining the nature of the offerings, and everything that touches a customer and constitutes value. “The purpose of a business,” Drucker wrote, “is to create a customer.” A marketing-oriented organization, then, views everything it does in the context of creating and retaining customers. Its marketing is not limited to the tasks by its marketing department
    • Marketing strategy is inseparable from business strategy. Choosing activities that, executed in a particular manner, create a unique, valuable and sustainable market position from which to achieve goals, defines a business strategy. A marketing-oriented approach relies upon principles of Marketing to plan and execute the organization’s strategy. It is an integral part of an overall business strategy, not some aspect of it.

li>The marketing department does not call the shots. A marketing-oriented approach does not mean ceding control of the business to the marketing department, nor does it diminish the importance of finance, sales, customer support, HR and the other business functions. Rather, it shapes the nature, tasks and objectives of the entire organization. The CMO is responsible for those tasks best housed within the marketing organization. Yet, the fortunes of the firm are neither won or lost based solely on its performance.

How a Marketing-driven organization might look

A marketing framework can – and indeed does – tie directly into an organization’s go-to-market framework (see illustration below). In this illustration, the go-to-market tactics (shown in green) are typical of those used by B2B enterprise software firms. With a few modifications the tactical go-to-market areas can be adapted to represent a B2C firm, cloud offerings, a device firm, and so on.

The bottom portion of the illustration shows examples of how two firms – one, an international B2B firm selling enterprise software, and a B2C firm developing and deploying web-based applications – could be organized. The examples are admittedly high level.

The key: a marketing-oriented approach to business strategy embeds a marketing-driven approach across the entire organization, and not just within the marketing and sales organizations.

Bottom Line

Organizations that operate in competitive markets, and sustain enviable business results tend to adopt a marketing-oriented approach that extends both up and down, and across the entire organization. Both the marketing and go-to-market frameworks are integrated within the entire organization, not isolated within the marketing department alone.

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Written by Michael

Michael Douglas has held senior positions in sales, marketing and general management since 1980, and spent 20 years at Sun Microsystems, most recently as VP, Global Marketing. His experience includes start-ups, mid-market and enterprises. He's currently VP Enterprise Go-to-Market for NVIDIA.

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Claira Inglis

We struggled with this exact scenario at my 2 previous jobs. Everyone thinks it’s a single department. I love the way you laid out an argument that it’s a philosophy and that everyone should be ‘on the marketing team.’


“Market research” is a key part of developing your market strategy. It is about collecting information that provides an insight into your customers thinking, buying patterns, and location. In addition, market research can also assist you to undertake an initial sales forecast, monitor market trends and keep an eye on what your competition is doing.