marketing is more than communication

Marketing Budget Cut cartoon

In any crisis that impacts cash flow, one of the first reactions of a business is often to cut the marketing budget. That can leave marketers scrambling with how to do their jobs with less.

I liked this reminder from Mark Ritson to remember all four Ps, not just Promotion (which relates to communications), but Product, Placement, and Price.

“The world does not need our support or our concern. Your companies do not need a communication campaign about how much you care about the state of the world.

“They need us to do our job. To develop products and services that reflect the strange new challenges of the Covid summer ahead. To distribute them in a way that enables everyone in the market to benefit from them. And to price them in a manner that maximises availability and profitability at the same time.”

In his article, Mark gives interesting examples from brands like UberEats, Iceland Foods, and Meny that are prioritizing the other three Ps to meet current customer needs.

I started my marketing career in brand management, where we were trained to think of the brand as a small business with its own P&L, and the marketer’s job was look look at everything holistically. I remember a slide in my orientation that simply said: “Marketing = General Management.”

That experience helped shape my outlook that everything a business does can be a form of marketing, and that every function in a business is ultimately part of the brand. I found that this general management outlook came in handy in 2008/09 when I was part of a small challenger brand with marketing budgets that were suddenly slim to none. We had to figure out how to work together collectively (marketing, sales, operations, etc.) to find new ways to meet customer needs.

Brands have an important role to play now, but I think this moment requires thinking fully like a general manager and not only about communications. It means figuring out how to use everything in the business to deliver value to customers.

Here are a few related cartoons I’ve drawn over the years:

More with Less” February 2015

Owning the P&L” September 2017

The Winning Hand” November 2008

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Marketoonist | Tom Fishburne


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