February 1st, 2013
This post was co-authored with Anna Chavis and Jace Moreno, MBA students, Fuqua School of Business, Duke University.
At a recent roundtable discussion at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit, Beth Comstock, the Chief Marketing Officer of GE, described how GE approaches marketing: “You have to create a platform that invites innovative ideas.” Unfortunately, we teach marketing and many companies approach marketing as if the organization does not exist. As a result, marketing often fails because it sits outside, or is layered on top, of the most important activities in companies. Marketing needs to be down in the trenches and marketing leadership needs to foster a culture of innovation that creates new products, new services, and new customers.
GE has written this approach into its DNA. In particular, GE’s culture ensures that technological innovation (the historical backbone of GE) and commercial innovation (managing with deep consideration of the customer’s needs and wants) are inextricably entwined. We interviewed Beth Comstock during her visit for the Distinguished Speaker Series at the Fuqua School of Business, Duke University. From this talk and from other press accounts, we derived four capabilities that constitute GE’s organizational platform for innovation. We discuss these capabilities and offer examples of the new products, services, and customers that have resulted.
Capability 1: Create Marketing Innovation Internally
A big feeder of GE’s marketing innovation is the ECLP—Experienced Commercial Leadership Program—GE’s first externally focused leadership program. ECLP began in 2002 as part of Jeff Immelt’s commitment to grow GE’s commercial pipeline and aims to position GE as the “gold standard in marketing.” The two-year post-MBA program develops a pipeline of future leaders and also teaches the company what good marketing is and how it has the potential to change traditional views of product development. The program is viewed as a mutual learning experience—the graduates bring an external perspective and unique talent to GE and program participants learn from GE’s R&D expertise. As Comstock noted, “Marketing must bring a different viewpoint to tough problems. This involves data analytics that produce customer insights and the ability to address customer needs in a creative manner.” She went on to point out that “The best marketers are the ones who have both the creativity and analytical skills in the right proportion.”
Capability 2: Integrate Collaboratively Within GE
There are two key illustrations of this capability—the Commercial Council and the Imagination Breakthrough Process.
January 24th, 2012
I asked top marketers to report how much they expected their companies to outsource marketing in the next 12 months. This percentage has grown over time as shown in Figure 1. In fact the last measurement, taken in August 2011, grew by over 100% over the prior year! (more…)
December 6th, 2011
Disintermediation refers to companies going directly to customers with products and services. No channel partners are used to move offerings or to manage interactions with customers. The CMO Survey has asked managers to report whether their companies will increase their level of disintermediation in the next 12 months. The percentage responding “yes” has increased over the last three years as shown in the figure. In fact, there has been an increase of over 100% between August 2009 and August 2011! Because internet sales and the use of social media have also soared during this period, I think it is a good bet that disintermediation does not mean bricks and mortar for most companies. (more…)
October 25th, 2011
As marketing gains increasing prominence as an orientation that everyone in the organization shares and as a process that all functions participate in deploying, a critical issue that arises is the role of the marketing function. Jerry Wind (1996) says it well when he notes, “Marketing, as a management function, appears to be in decline. Marketing as a management philosophy and orientation, espoused and practiced throughout the corporation, is however seen increasingly as critical to the success of any organization.” (more…)
October 18th, 2011
Studying organizations over the years, I have found that new marketing leaders often join companies that have only the beginnings of a marketing function. Facing such a situation, how do you invent a marketing function? What are the key steps? What capabilities help marketing deliver what it can offer companies? (more…)
February 4th, 2011
In the August 2010 CMO Survey, I asked top marketers the following question: What is marketing primarily responsible for in your firm?
Marketers were then asked to check from a list of strategic, tactical, and financial activities in firms. What I found is in the table below.
At least a couple worrisome thoughts arise from these results. First, while marketing is playing an important role in brand and social media in most organizations, marketing’s contributions to the key strategic activities of the firm are sadly absent. This includes marketing’s weak contributions to key strategic activities such as market entry, innovation, CRM, sales, distribution, and targeting.
Ask any top business school marketing professor what marketers do and they will likely respond with something like the 4Ps (price, promotion, place-distribution, and product) and the 3Cs (customers, competitors, and company). This leads to the second worrisome thought. I think it is pretty clear that marketing is NOT doing what ivory tower marketers think it is doing or would like it to do. This little fantasy that marketing does important things contributes to a problem among many marketing academics, which is that they don’t contribute to building knowledge about successful marketing.
What’s happening in companies that keeps marketing professionals from making the contributions we train them to believe they should be making? Or is the problem that academic marketing research and training need to change to increase the value of marketing to companies? If not us, who?
What is Marketing Responsible for in your Firm? (n = 332 responses)
||Number of people checking
|Market entry strategies
|Customer relationship management
|Stock market performance