As Marketers We Owe It To Our Discipline To Get Trained.

I posted on twitter about my wish for marketers to get trained and qualified in the discipline. Whilst not a thread for the ages it did appear to split respondents between those who advocate formal training and those who don’t. So off the back of this I’m pulling together my thoughts on why I believe its important, as a marketer, to train yourself on the discipline of marketing. 

First things first, marketing is not advertising nor is it content, ABM, social media or podcasts. These are communications tactics. They are an element of and an output of the discipline of marketing. 

“Marketing is not only much broader than selling, it is not a specialized activity at all. It is the whole business seen from the point of view of its final result, that is from the customers point of view” Peter Drucker

This is why when marketers talk solely about tactics they are not being representative of the business. Nor are they being representative of marketing. Too many times I’ve seen marketing leaders say that if they were to start a business tomorrow, they would [insert comms channel of choice]. For example, podcasts may be all the rage but they might not be what’s suitable for your target segment or your positioning. 

If you decided to start a business tomorrow, a podcast or Adwords or “content” should not be the first thing you do. In fact, it is the very last thing you do. You’d start with understanding the customers point of view. You’d start with being market-oriented. You’d start with research.

It’s worth pointing out that these aforementioned tactics fall under communications which represents only 8% of the marketing discipline. The marketing discipline is split into three areas. Diagnosis (33%), Strategy, incl. segmentation, targeting and positioning (33%) and Tactics (33%). Tactics is then split into the four areas of product, place, price and promotion. Each representing 8% of the overall discipline. 

8%. And yet so much of the current marketing narrative talks only at this level. This is what marketing professor Mark Ritson refers to as the tactification of marketing 

“The focus on digital and the latest hot technology has resulted in all too many companies putting the tactical cart before the horse” (Mark Ritson. Eat your greens)

As Ritson points out, it’s a real issue and damaging to the overall discipline. This is why I believe that as marketers we should get formal training in the discipline. In the same way we expect accountants and lawyers to be formally qualified before we solicit their expertise, we should apply the same rational to marketers. We owe it to ourselves, our teams, our mentors, our mentees, our clients and employers. 

And this is why I believe we should, as marketers, do more to uphold our discipline. And the primary way to achieve this is to improve our understanding of the full marketing discipline. The remaining 92% of it. And in my opinion, they way to do that is to get to get formally trained on it. 

And you don’t have to get a degree or an MBA to achieve this. You can get a qualification from the Chartered Institute of Marketing, you can complete the Mini MBA with Mark Ritson or take courses on effectiveness from the IPA

It’s impossible to learn that which one thinks one already knows. Epictetus