Friday, June 21, 2013

You Are a Marketer- What is Your Job?

If I had a dollar for every student who has come by my office over the past 13 years to inform me "I want to work in sports marketing," I would have a nice nest egg accumulated toward my retirement! All kidding aside, I do not dismiss students' proclamations of wanting a career in sports marketing, but I do begin such conversations by asking them to describe what that career entails. Three frequently given responses pertain to advertising, promotion, and athlete representation (often inspired by watching Tom Cruise's portrayal of a sports agent in Jerry Maguire). But more times than not, students are not really sure what sports marketing really is. They need not feel badly; when I ask students in Principles of Marketing class the same "what is" question, responses tend to reflect similar, rather narrow perceptions such as advertising and selling. It appears that students are interested in a career for which they do not have a clear understanding of what they will be doing.

Marketing Job Roles- Who's Got the Customer?
It turns out that marketing students are not the only ones feeling conflicted over the responsibilities of a marketer. For example, marketing curriculum places an emphasis on customers. Marketing is taught as processes that are intended to add value for customers. But,a recent study of business executives done by the Economist Intelligence Unit found the customer far down the list of priorities. Executives had the following responses when asked the question "What should be marketing's top function?":
  • Driving revenue growth - 30%
  • Finding new customers - 17%
  • Improving organization reputation - 16%
  • Creating new products and services - 13%
  • Entering new markets - 13%
  • Retaining customers - 10%
The low percentage of executives seeing marketing's chief role being retaining customers is interesting. The relationship marketing paradigm is a cornerstone of many marketing courses. The cost of customer retention relative to customer acquisition is an often taught fundamental (e.g., it costs 10 times more to acquire a new customer than to keep an existing one). Yet, practitioners seem to have a growth orientation that comes from new opportunities more than growing share of wallet with existing customers.

The New Marketing
The relative high percentages placed on "new" (grow revenues and find new customers) is reflective of the expectations placed on marketing executives today. Performance is measured in financial impact and size of market footprint (e.g., number of customers, market share, and sales volume). The outward focus on customers must be done in tandem with an internal focus on driving growth.

The growth-oriented perceptions  business executives hold toward marketing have major implications for sports marketers. Tapping more and new revenue streams is the name of the game. In team sports, the percentage of total revenues coming from traditional sources like ticketing and sponsorship is decreasing as media rights, licensing, and other businesses have taken on greater significance. An example of how a growth focus shapes marketing strategy is Legends. The sport and entertainment company is a venture between the Dallas Cowboys and New York Yankees, two marquee pro team brands. Legends was founded in 2008 and has quickly established itself as a leader in venue premium seating, hospitality, and ticket marketing services. The Cowboys and Yankees organizations looked beyond their core operations to find market needs that they could meet through their competencies and realize revenue growth.

The customer will always have a deserved lofty status in marketing. After all, if there are no customers there is no business. What has changed is that business growth has assumed a more prominent position in the strategic decisions made in the marketing C-suite today.

Center for Media Research - "Who Knows the Customer Best?"