This post is the fifth in a series looking at the AMI. Click below to read the others:

  1. Whats wrong with the AMI
  2. The Great AMI Debate: Round 2
  3. The Stark Reality of the AMI
  4. The AMI Bites Back
  5. Marketing the Marketers: the UK perspective
  6. Bowll bites back: Geoffrey responds to the AMI

An interesting debate has been raging recently in the marketing
community about whether or not the Australian Marketing Institute is
doing a good enough job at marketing the marketing profession (check
out the debate here, here, here and here
to get up to speed). It seems to me that much of the debate centres
around the twin questions of how marketers are defined and how they
define themselves. So perhaps what we need to focus on is the question
of defining marketing.

Roger James, Chairman of the AMI, went on the record to say that AMI
membership currently stood at over 6,000 while his best guess of how
many professional marketers there actually were in Australia was
between 45,000 and 60,000. Which means around 90 percent of
professionals do not belong to their main industry association.

So what might the future have in store for the AMI? Well, to answer
this let’s travel back in time and space to the UK in September 2007.
It was at this time that the Chartered Institute of Marketing – the AMI
equivalent in the UK – published a discussion paper called Tomorrow’s Word: Re-evaluating the role of marketing (click this link to download the 18-page PDF).

As something of a radical move for the CIM, it proposed a
re-definition of marketing for the first time in 30 years to “the
strategic business function that creates value by stimulating,
facilitating and fulfilling customer demand.” Yeah, thanks guys – that
just rolls off the tongue at dinner parties and parents days when
you’re asked what you do for a living.

I think there’s a much simpler definition – marketing is about being
consumer-centric and putting the customer at the very heart of your
thinking. As such, marketing is as much a philosophy of business as it
is a department staffed by predominantly pretty-young-things.

Of course, my theory means you don’t have to have marketing in
your job title to be a great marketer – you may just as well be an
entrepreneur or a managing director. I used to walk past a café every
morning on the way into work where the owner would grill bacon every
morning so the aroma enticed people into the café for a nice bacon
roll. This is good customer-centric marketing – right product, right
place and right promotion (call it sensory marketing if you like).

But enough bacon-talk. The CIM discussion paper also put forward
another interesting proposal, to sub-divide the marketing profession
into three key specialisations. The thinking behind this was, if the
legal profession can do it, why can’t we? The three proposed divisions

  1. Marketing “science”, covering research, metrics and segmentation
  2. Marketing “arts”, covering branding, advertising, communications
  3. Marketing “humanities”, covering social, public and not-for-profit marketing

The CIM claims this would “enable marketers to become experts in
their field, rather than being expected to be all-rounders and then
criticised for not understanding a particular part of the business”.
However, I think there is a real danger in segmenting the segmenters,
and the art/science division is a phoney one to me.

The truth is, marketing is both an art and a science. The best
marketers will use both sides of their brains and have no trouble
briefing a creative agency on the one hand, and evaluating the
effectiveness of the agencies output on the other hand.

I mention all this because of the widely held notion that Australia
is a year or two behind the UK in terms of industry innovation in some
sectors. If this is indeed the case, the naval-gazing of the AMI may
well amplify and we might start hearing murmurs of a redefinition of
marketing here too.

But perhaps this is all overdue. In a recent survey by the
Australian Institute of Company Directors and Growth Solutions Group,
they found that 60 percent of company directors viewed their marketing
function as an effective contributor to competitive advantage. But this
means 40 percent are underwhelmed with their marketing function. And
while 70 percent believed their marketing function effectively engages
with their board, 30 percent of company directors surveyed thought it
did not.

I also think the marketing profession could do with a bit of a rebrand.

I think maybe marketing suffers from the P-syndrome – allow me to
explain. Once upon a time, there were the 4 Ps of marketing –
Product, Price, Place and Promotion. And then, at no extra cost, three
more were added – People, Process and Proof. Arguably, the most
publicly visible of these is the “P” for Promotion – covering all the
above and below-the-line favourites like advertising, promotions,
public relations, direct mail and so on.

Trouble is, a hell of a lot of strategic work goes into the other 6
Ps but this is just not as visible as the TVCs interrupting what you
were watching on television, or the junk mail cluttering up your
mailbox. But marketers are much more than just peddlers of advertising.

Talking of which, I’ve probably just taken up my 120-second spot so I’d better go now and do some deep strategic thinking

So what does everyone think – is it time we redefined the role of
marketers? And if so, what definition of marketing would help us to
better promote the work that marketers do?