Marketing & Sausages
This article was first printed in The West Australian 25/8/14
The marketing author and social media savant, Gary Vaynerchuck has a saying, “A penguin cannot be a giraffe, so just be the best penguin you can be”.
I think this is why I don’t understand why some communications businesses like to add the word ‘marketing’ to the description of their area of specialism: ‘Marketing & Advertising’, ‘Marketing & Public Relations’, ‘Marketing and Design’, or the worst in my opinion, ‘Marketing & Branding’.
Adding the word ‘marketing’ appears to be a fashionable thing to do, but it is a trend in marketing communications specialists that irks me. I suspect it could be because some communication specialists feel like what they’re good at needs to sound more professional or strategic.
By adding that word potential clients might think they add value.
However, I think it actually trivialises marketing and shows a lack of understanding for the process. Marketing is a system by which organisations create products and services people want to buy, at the right price and in a place they can find them easily. Marketing involves research, evaluation, planning, and development before a product can be ‘marketed’. Advertising, PR, etc. are not marketing. These specialist communication fields of expertise only form a small part of the end process: The story telling.
They sell the sizzle promise of the sausage. That’s where the title of this piece comes in: no one says, ‘would you like breakfast and sausages’. That’s because you can have breakfast without sausages, but sausages by themselves are not breakfast.
Similarly, a business can ‘go to market’ without PR or advertising. But ‘doing advertising’ is not marketing. A response from those guilty of this miscommunication could be, ‘we offer marketing consultancy and specialise in the implementation of …’. But that’s like saying, ‘we know how to win a game of cricket, and we’re very good at fielding’.
So what’s the point about ‘penguins and giraffes’?
I wish communications agencies that specialise in something would be straight with their audiences. Say ‘we’re a bloody good public relations company’, and stop pretending to confuse process with their implementational specialism in an attempt to gild the lily. Then Clients that know the difference between systems and storytelling might respect them more.