Marketing Decisions

The blog of LHL Partners, LLC. The blogger is (often) Rick Lightburn, Chief Knowledge Officer of LHL Partners, with his observations about marketing. Our main page is at

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Managing Marketing: Q&A #1

How should I manage a marketing function?

There are two ways of managing anything in a systematic manner. (I assume you don’t want to be random and unsystematic about it. <g>)
Consider something typical of marketing. When I see Marian develop sales letters, I can focus either on Marian or on develop sales letters. If I manage Marian’s developing sales letters, I can either focus on Marian as a person, her situation, character and past accomplishments, or I can look at the process of developing sales letters. If, for example, Marian leaves then either I must hire someone similar, and hope this new hire also can write effective sales letters, or figure out how to develop sales letters (which may require hiring someone.)

These two approaches are Personal and Process. The Personal is concrete: with everything tangible or visible: there’s Marian, there’s the sales letter, there can even be responses to those sales letters, by which Marian and her sales-letters can be evaluated. On the other hand, it’s hard to link Marian personally to any of the goals and objectives of the organization or to its results. Improvements are limited, and not linked in any obvious way to outcomes: perhaps Marian can get further education or training, thereby changing her character and giving her more past achievements. There are legal limits to what you can do from the Person perspective: some aspects of Marian as a person can’t be considered legally: her race, gender, ethnicity, or religious beliefs. But still, because it’s concrete, it’s easier.

The Process perspective is abstract, on the other hand. It considers something that can’t be seen or touched: the process of developing sales letters. It’s hard to work with things that you can’t see or touch. But once one starts to think of Process, linkage to the outcomes of the organization are clearer and one can start to think of ways in which the outcomes can be improved: can the sales letters be produced faster, more cheaply, and more effectively. One can start to think of the ways in which the development of sales letters is tied to the organization’s goals and objectives.

Overall, the Process perspective has more to recommend it than the Person perspective; the effort of making the abstraction is worthwhile.

While processes are very clear in functions like production and manufacturing, and nearly as clear in things like finance or data-processing, what the processes are in marketing is more obscure–some have even suggested that there are no processes in marketing. (Of course there are processes in marketing: a process is any linked activities with an output. A process doesn’t need inputs, doesn’t need to be repeated, its output can be only a potentiality, and this output can even be another process.)

An organization’s marketing function has outputs, so of course it has processes. But two things complicate seeing what those processes are, and this is why I’ve been using the phrase ‘marketing function,’ rather than ‘marketing department.’ Often marketing departments perform some non-marketing tasks, and more often other departments perform marketing functions. Looking only at an organization’s marketing department may not give a clear and reliable sense of what marketing processes are.

A good but rather abstract definition of ‘marketing’ is ‘facilitating exchange.’ This definition emphasizes process. Not everything a marketing department does fits this definition, and often other departments do something that facilitates exchange between an organization and its customers. But there could be some connection: for example, the marketing department might not design the product, but marketing will design the box or label.

The marketing processes of an organization (whether they’re actually performed by the marketing department or not) can vary greatly, but here’s a general classification:

  • Identifying marketing opportunities and creating a ‘marketing strategy’
  • Conceiving, producing and implementing ‘executions’ of the strategy
  • Developing and managing resources to do the above
These will be considered in further posts.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

The Marketing Integration Maturity Model

LHL Partners has proposed a Marketing Integration Maturity Model (TM), which combines the various economic or business-strategic stages with organizational factors.

The economic stages are primary, secondary and tertiary demand, which matches exactly the business strategy stages: acquire customers, retain customers, sell additional products to those customers.

For the organizational stages are how the seller views the buyer, how the buyer views the seller, and what knowledge the seller has and uses about the buyer. For labels, we call how the seller views the buyer the approach the seller has to the buyer and how the access that the seller gives the buyer, since even though it is the buyer's perspective, it is something that can be controlled by the seller.

Friday, December 09, 2005

This is the Web Log for LHL Partners!

We'll be posting various items from LHL Partners here.