Is it time for Marketing to put the megaphone down?

Last week at the Enteprise 2.0 conference there was a lot of discussion around culture and organization. One workshop on Monday talked about Organization: Next led by Mike Gotta, Daniel Rasmus and Sarah Roberts where we discussed the challenges of today’s organization (mostly HR and Change Management) This really got me thinking about fundamental problems in today’s organization. Then, I started to ask myself, Is it time to blow up a company’s organization structure and start over? The reality is, probably yes, the practicality of it would say no, finally I started to look at what IS possible and came to the conclusion. Let’s re-brand the Marketing Department.

I started to fundamentally look at what marketing is and feel that the word alone usually makes the hair on the back of people’s neck stand up.

According to Wikipedia: Marketing is the process by which companies determine what products or services may be of interest to customers, and the strategy to use in sales, communications and business development.[1] It generates the strategy that underlies sales techniques, business communication, and business developments.[1] It is an integrated process through which companies build strong customer relationships and create value for their customers and for themselves

Many people feel that Marketing is more interested in talking to us instead of engaging in conversation with us.

After talking to a few people about this in Boston, there are some things that become clear. Our organizational stereotypes cause us to place our personal bias on an individual in a company often times before we even talk to the person. This is true whether in Marketing, Finance, HR or IT. These biases usually devalue the message. For example, when talking to a person from marketing, do you feel like their single purpose in life is to get their message out? Do you feel they talk a lot and listen very little? Remember, these are stereotypes and don’t necessarily represent reality, but biases are often very strong (and misguided). These biases often make us here what we think we are going to hear regardless of what’s being said.

Meet your new Engagement Department

In companies today, there’s a lot of confusion where social business belongs, some may see parts in Marketing, parts in Communications, and maybe still other parts in IT, but most companies are struggling to see where this fits in. Some even say that “social” will be absorbed into the business and not be a stand alone thing. Bottom line is the capability doesn’t seem to “belong” anywhere. Another common thought is that to really have a Social Media strategy, it must be holistic, not fragmented. How about if the new Engagement department existed? It is feasible to say this group is responsible both for customer engagement as well as employee engagement without much of the political infighting that tends to happen in today’s companies? While I agree this isn’t perfect, I do feel this better aligns with the needs of the business.

The one thing I’ve learned about marketing over the years is you can’t simply re-brand something by changing a name. You must have the real change in operation that will make it clear this isn’t just a name change. But with the way social is forcing companies to evaluate ways of work, perhaps now is the perfect time to align a re-purpose of mission with a name change.

I am not trying to over simplify this, but instead call attention to the fact our existing brands for corporate organizations may indeed have outlived their usefulness and be ready for a make-over. Should we re-brand Marketing as Engagement? What am I missing? What other organizations could stand to be re-branded? I’d love to hear.