Does marketing have a clarity of purpose?

Why do companies pay for marketing? The answer that most Chief Marketing Officers would give you would be that it is to encourage more people to engage their services and pay for their products. However in most cases this seems to have nothing to with the mission statement of the company. How can such a key department seem so divorced from the core functionality of the business?

Propertini is an example of a company which has distilled their purpose and made the consequences of marketing a by-product (rather than end itself) of its marketing. Their mission to help users find real estate and as a result the marketing department are set this same objective.

The Twitter content has the purpose of providing property related news (presumably as required by home-hunters), the Pinterest site is focused on ideas and LinkedIn is designed for the professional contacts. The clarity of purpose and recognition of this means marketing are charged with helping users. Brand awareness and feeling towards this is then a consequence of virtuous marketing rather than the end in itself.

The paradox of the optimist‏

The optimist is one who expects things to work perhaps more often than they actually do. As a result one would expect this person to become disheartened and filled with disappointment over time and revert to become a pessimist. Yet we would never describe someone as “currently in the mid-pessimistic part of the cycle and will be returning to the optimist state of mind in several months”.

So being labeled as either an optimist or a pessimist could be considered an insult – insinuating that you don’t change your view in light of new world probabilities. As J.M. Keynes asked,“When my information changes, I alter my conclusions. What do you do, Sir?”

When to compete and when to change the game

When the chief of the largest technology company in the world admits that their new product to compete with their rival is sub-standard, we should ask why did they launch this when it was to the detriment of their users.

The answer in this case is likely to be to win market share. There was a chance to build something either better than the competitors, or to extend on the work of the competitors. Both of these options would have been laudable and worthy of serving their customers. Instead, market share and the bottom line likely proved to be too strong a motivation and led to this and the subsequent apology.

There are examples of this type of behavior all over the Web and in commerce. Barriers are built to support the business but these barriers penalise the users. In the Apple Maps example, the Apple infrastructure had been switched to the new maps even though it didn’t work as well and their users would suffer.

Building map functionality is a foundation for many other functions. It is the basis from which other ecosystems of services and products can be controlled. This is the guiding star which Apple has followed. The quest to compete with Google necessitates that they have a foundation of a mapping infrastructure.

This then begs the title question: Should they be competing with Google and using the rules of this game, or perhaps should they be playing their own game? It seems this time they are not the game-changer.