The “Strategic” Marketer

A couple of interesting comments on Wednesday’s post. The gist of them: it’s a relief to have a marketer speak frankly about the limits of marketing. Nice to know we’re not the only ones who think a good chunk of the marketing and advertising community has watched a little too much Mad Men.

Good marketers have plenty of confidence. Better ones never forget the place of marketing: as an interpreter and amplifier of a great business strategy. This is where we at Nerve take issue with the all the “strategic” marketing claims that are out there these days. Because marketing is not a strategy. Marketing is an expression of a strategy. And where does that strategy come from? The client.

That’s not to say that marketers can’t help clients clarify their strategies. Indeed this is what our branding exercises are all about. We use them to challenge our clients to focus: to state clearly the value they bring to the marketplace. It can be a little grueling at times. Not long ago, after a lengthy brand discovery session, a client came up to me and said: “I haven’t been grilled like that since my marine corps interview!”

Just so. For the fact is that it’s easy for directors to get buried in the clutter of the day-to-day, to get distracted from their core mission…the thing that got them into business in the first place. Helping businesses rediscover their value and direction — to hone their own strategy — is a thrill as well as a privilege. As for the marketing that it generates, well, it’s deadly.

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