We all agree the World Wide Web is the most significant change to mass communication since the printing press, but I accuse the Internet of creating HUGE interference to the evolution of the craft of marketing.

Like bees to honey, any new innovation attracts an unruly bunch of vocal profiteers and, in this case, ‘cowboys’, without understanding of what marketing REALLY is, are confusing those they are trying to lead, by declaring themselves to be ‘marketing’ experts…

The true, essential definition of the word marketing is “the management of exchange” and the omnipotent power of marketing knowledge is literally the goose that lays golden eggs.
Sadly, all too many self-declared marketing experts and promotions sales people with self-interest at heart, redefine the word, or take advantage of ignorance and misconceptions of ‘marketing’, to push their own greedy causes.

“Try my SEO – that’s good marketing”, they cry.

“Inbound telesales are the future of marketing – buy me!” is another’s mantra.

“CRO is the new SEO and the future of marketing”, bellows a hawker of his services.

“My sales premiums and giveaways are the secret to great marketing”, calls out from a different corner.

What many purport to be ‘marketing’ is ,at best, a form of promotion, through a medium of communication… known to TRAINED marketing executives as the “Promotional Mix”. The “Promotional Mix” encapsulates 4 disciplines nominated as Advertising, Sales Promotions, PR and Personal Selling.

Prior to the Internet, Personal Selling was unique, in that it was the only component that allowed for 2-way communication… the Net now allows for 2-way in every discipline.

BEFORE the Internet, there was a reverence for marketing know-how… advertising was understood to be a different discipline; even “Direct Marketing” was identifiable as a different discipline.

But, with self-taught computer buffs, get-rich-quick-while-you-work-from-home entrepreneurs, and internet services sales people all declaring that internet marketing as their core skill; it has only clouded the already murky waters of the true meaning of the craft, purpose of the discipline and its significant social benefit.

Social Benefit of “Marketing”?

The social benefit of marketing is profound, universal and far-reaching.

The core responsibility of marketing is to match the unique resources of the organisation with the closest possible solution to the pressing needs of the consumer: The core purpose: Mutual satisfaction between shareholder and end user.

Proper marketing management achieves the following:
• No misallocation of resources – no over production or under supply
• The right and fair price at which product/s or service/s should be sold
• Size of package, usage instructions, quality controls, that are optimally appropriate
• Logistic and availability that satisfies the greatest ‘good’
• Accompanying experience in the exchange that is comfortable, pleasant, and least disruptive to all parties.
• Fair and equitable share of profit throughout the distribution channel based upon contribution of value within the exchange.
• Ongoing innovation and change that marries with inevitable changing of consumer needs and wants.

Internet marketers do not strive for these ideas, they corrupt the essence of marketing and undermine these social benefits of marketing… they are snake-oil salesman empowered to confuse up by the omnipotent POTENTIAL of the internet as a medium of communication.

f course, it IS swings and pendulums, and the business world will, ultimately, develop ways and means to detect and deter the cowboys, but scars will remain on the word ‘marketing’ and the purity of the craft, for decades to come.

In the zenith of the years of excellence in advertising and marketing, the seller controlled the balance of power.

Taking the empirical science of “Marketing” revealed by diligent and breakthrough academic work, with open and dedicated support from industry, sellers were industrious about applying the newly discovered “Marketing Concept” – finding out what consumers wanted and delivering the combination of those wants to accurately identified market segments.

Those were the days were a segmentation study was an annual necessity, trend analysis was a routine discipline, conjoint analysis, decision tree analysis, qualitative and quantitative research were in balance and strategic marketing tools were respected and followed.

Now, in the years I consider the nadir of “Marketing”, the word “Marketing” is more often misunderstood than understood. It is rare to find someone who has conducted a segmentation study in the past seven years, and if they have. it is unlikely the research conducted can be, or is, compared to that of the past… so trends are hidden and management is uninformed.

Branding is confused with image, artwork, and name. Brand equity is not measured or considered in context, considered in brand portfolio planning (if that even exists) or future product design and planned innovation.

Consumers are left in a vacuum-like netherworld of me-too brands, and categories filled with homogenous offerings. They are thrown little to make judgement upon, with advertising drowning in the depths of weak marketing leadership from clients and vague briefs that offer no focus or direction.

Left to their own agenda, advertising agencies are forced to deliver anything they can, from gimmicks to creative excellence in advertising, which may or may not spark some level of unsustainable brand equity, only to be admonished by their clients when things ultimately go wrong.

Consumers are disarmed from having passion for their favourite brands… often helped by cost-cutting of those who should be the brand ambassadors, but fall victim to the inevitable urge to extend a brand, or worse, alter the product in such a way as to undermine it.
Abandoned by the brands they once loved, the consumer delegates their weary preferences to the household shopper, who is less involved in brand loyalty and more inclined to economic enticements.

Nowadays, caught in the vice-like grip of 50% off, or buy BOGOF, the preferred brand is dismissed as of secondary importance, and price-led brand switching, convenient shelf position, or accidental or ambivalent alternative brand selection, has become acceptable.

Responding in the most destructive of all ways, national brands who cost cut, abandon brand equity building, restrain innovation, decrease market research, and have, and continue to, lay a path to destruction: Fertilising the ground for the onset of premium house brands and private label brands that will choke the life our of the diminishing brand loyalty that marketers have allowed to proliferate over the past 20 years.

The question is, “Is this a ‘swings and roundabouts’ scenario?”

Will ‘Marketing’ skills and talent regain popularity and rebuild a world of heterogeneous and loved brands or has the era of beloved brands passed away?

I’d love to see innovative and profound marketing management rise again, mainly because I love the craft and believe the power and the responsibility that goes with it belongs solely to the seller.

It is easy to lose a fight when you are more willing give up than to employ some self defence and fighting skills.

Ideally, of all industries, TV SHOULD be one that embraces ‘marketing’ with a passion… not only to best understand their clients, but it SHOULD be their business to understand the element of PROMOTION, which they are key to supplying,12.5% to 25 % of the marketing mix, and, in B2C marketing, sometimes over 25% of total expenditure.

However, TV management has been systematically destroying itself by overtly breaching every possible concept within the arsenal of strategic marketing managers’ armaments.

Is it no wonder that Channel Ten (sometimes called the Simpsons repeat channel) can hardly raise a rating?

Is any EDUCATED business strategist surprised that Chanel Nine has turned, in panic, to mass retrenchments?

Is there damning evidence that ABC executives are actually surprised that ABC is finding itself higher placed in ratings than ever before?

What free to air TV management in Australia has done wrong is ample content for a three year full time marketing course – on “How not the embrace the knowledge and methods of proven strategic marketing management”.

This could NOT have come at a worse time for marketers, particularly FMCG marketers, who desperately need a spearhead promotional medium that can reach big grabs of population awareness in a single investment decision.

In the old days, when TV was content first and cost-cutting last, when imagination and creativity led content decisions instead of revenue grabs, “me-too-ism” and short-term snatchers of high profit, HUT (homes using Television) was at 98% and high ratings were challenging high 40’s.

Even the highest ratings now rarely enter the 30’s.

“Oh, it not TV executives” is the cry, “Its the Internet”. BULL! If TV executive shad embraced 1% of strategic marketing expertise they would have been able to undermine the Internet becoming a medium of choice for leisure time, and significantly reduce households from developing new habits, and from web sites seducing a reluctantly disenfranchised population. Even now, they could turn this enemy into an ally, if they gave countenance to marketing strategy.

What on earth justified undermining the cultural norm of Australians joining together for their 8:30pm Sunday movie? Who actually believes that relying on one quality content show will satisfy a remote-loving viewer for a week.

What purpose did de-regulation serve but the permit such offensive and disruptive proportions of advertising that people reached for their i-phones or lap tops for respite? What self-deceptive denial allowed TV management to allow this terminal policy to perpetuate?
Anyone with formal marketing training can easily see senior management of free to air TV has no understanding of consumer behaviour, rudimentary life-cycle theory, the Boston Matrix, or product portfolio management, of segmentation, of brand management, of targeting and positioning, of modified vs straight re-buy buying behaviour, of new product development, of trending, and certainly no idea of the concept of blue-ocean strategy.

So fatally and fanatically arrogant that they ‘know better’, the free to air TV industry will most likely be regarded in history as laughable as Ken Olson, president, chairman & founder-Digital Equipment Corp., 1977, who said… “There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home”.

In theory, of course, FTA TV is saveable. But, in practice, it would take a ferociously focused and determined Board of Management, with the support of shareholders, cooperation of middle management and budget to match, to turn things around at this late stage.