Is marketing the press secretary or attorney general?

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In a surprising turn of events, there was recently a bit of noise around a distinctly non-controversial statement made about marketing on Twitter.

But as is often the case on Twitter, even though that statement is absolutely bulletproof, something about its reduction clearly got a lot of people kind of mad.

I think the issue comes down to a fundamental question about the point of marketing as a function.

One view of marketing is that it is effectively a glorified mouthpiece. The business’ chief spokesperson.

It says what the business thinks should be said, and perhaps dolls it up a bit.

This is marketing as press secretary.

The other view of marketing is that it must do a fair bit more than just communicate from the company-out.

That, actually, marketing needs to also represent the target market internally.

This is marketing as attorney general.

It isn’t just a communications gig. It’s about interpreting the laws and established norms in the market to deduce a strategy that can help the business navigate them successfully.

I like this second view of marketing. And I think it’s right that marketing should wear that much responsibility.

At the same time, by definition, the attorney general has to spend a lot more time studying than the press secretary does.

The title must be earned.

If you don’t want people to think your job is about playing buzzword bingo, you have to do the hard work of completely immersing yourself in your prospects’ world.

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Interviewing customers for more than testimonials.

Commissioning researching for reasons other than content.

Analyzing the very nature of their job, not just their job titles.

The press secretary broadcasts things to the market.

The attorney general negotiates the best deal between the market and the business.

She advocates for the customer within the business so she can reasonably advocate for the business in front of the customer.

It’s a tall order. But the only way marketing can help shape the CEO’s vision is if the CEO can trust marketing to represent the market more accurately than anyone else can.

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