When The Marketing Department Is Expected To Do A Lot Of Heavy Lifting

I know I have been citing Seth Godin a lot lately, but he has had a lot of posts that seemed relevant lately. One of his recent ones addresses how marketing is expected to do a lot of the lifting for a company.  In his post, he suggests that it is because no one has clearly defined the boundaries of what marketing is supposed to be doing.

This is just an excerpt of the full list of roles he identifies:

That’s the first part of the confusion. It’s a group of people who can’t decide what the thing they do is supposed to be.

Is it:

Making the logo pretty
Maintaining the status quo and not screwing up
Keeping the website running
Community engagement
Customer service
Customer delight
Branding (whatever that is)

And seven other things we could name and argue about…

If people are confused about what they do, perhaps that’s why it’s hard to move forward. What’s this meeting for? How do we know we’re working on the right things? What’s important?…

I have been preaching that marketing is everyone’s responsibility on my blog since the early 2000s. Apparently, I have been preaching it a lot in real life too because one of the marketing staff at my job named the folder in which all staff members can place images, videos, stories, etc they collect during events “Marketing Is Everybody’s Job.”

While there should be clear boundaries about what the marketing staff is expected to accomplish, the concept of who contributes to the accomplishment of those goals shouldn’t be siloed. If the message being broadcast via different media channels is that You are the audience we want, the all members of staff need to know they have to reinforce that message when they encounter the potential audience.

About Joe Patti

I have been writing Butts in the Seats (BitS) on topics of arts and cultural administration since 2004 (yikes!). Given the ever evolving concerns facing the sector, I have yet to exhaust the available subject matter. In addition to BitS, I am a founding contributor to the ArtsHacker (artshacker.com) website where I focus on topics related to boards, law, governance, policy and practice.

I am also an evangelist for the effort to Build Public Will For Arts and Culture being helmed by Arts Midwest and the Metropolitan Group. (http://www.creatingconnection.org/about/)

My most recent role was as Executive Director of the Grand Opera House in Macon, GA.

Among the things I am most proud are having produced an opera in the Hawaiian language and a dance drama about Hawaii's snow goddess Poli'ahu while working as a Theater Manager in Hawaii. Though there are many more highlights than there is space here to list.


2 thoughts on “When The Marketing Department Is Expected To Do A Lot Of Heavy Lifting”

  1. So true.

    And a little story that fits:

    When my company asked me to from consulting to sales in the late 80s I was very hesitant. In the end they win me over with money and by meeting the one condition I had: education. I need some training and ended up with a Dale Carnegie course, 13 weeks, they Thursday after work, a 40 km drive and 4 hours duration. I did learn a lot and had the feeling a condensed version of that workshop would do the company a of good. I was able to convince my superiors to pay for an abridged version of 5 sessions to cover the essentials. At the first session the trainer asked: who works in sales? 5 sales man raised their hands. Wrong, he said. Everybody works in sales. First contacts are important. So everybody answering the phone would be in sales etc. – you get my drift…

  2. Long-time reader, first-time commenter. The best definition of marketing that I have ever come across is simply: marketing’s job is to make sales’ job easier. So, in the case of a performing arts organization, marketing’s job is to make ticket sales easier for the organization’s ticket sellers and fundraising easier for development. Secondly, respectfully disagreeing about marketing being everyone’s job in the organization. When something is everyone’s job, it’s no one’s job. Certainly, everyone in the organization needs to be on board with the marketing message, but putting everyone in charge of marketing will never result in clear and concise messaging to ticket buyers and donors because no one is being held accountable for keeping the message consistent, which will ultimately make sales’ job harder.


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