Is marketing just digital?

Digital marketingYesterday evening I attended the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) FutureFocus event in Leeds as part of their #Marketing2025 Hackathon launch. During the evening there were many interesting discussions about the role of marketing and what this might be in 10 years time. One theme which kept recurring was the actual role of marketing.

One of the panelists, Joe Chetcuti of Front agency made the point that marketing is either finding out what customers want and providing it to them or persuading people to buy what you have. To me, this summarises the opposing views of what marketing is – a strategic role which understands customer needs and, through the full marketing mix satisfies those needs, or it is just communications.

There were further discussions about the way many organisations are using millenials for their digital marketing with comments about whether there is any strategy involved and the potential danger to the brand (let alone the limited use this makes of the capabilities of marketing graduates).

This prompted me to think about the relationship between digital marketing activities and marketing strategy. There are many digital evangelists who claim that digital has changed everything about marketing – surely that only applies to the thinking that marketing is about communication only. Whilst digital has changed (transformed, some would say) the promotion element of the marketing mix the impact on other elements varies according to context, but is nothing like as large. So, are those who say digital has changed marketing completely really marketers? In my view they probably aren’t – and based on knowledge of background and qualifications of some of them I would definitely say not! But despite that they have a very large voice within the marketing community.

Maybe ensuring digital is reclaimed as being a part of the promotion mix of marketing, not the whole of marketing, is something CIM should include as a theme within the #Marketing2025 hackathon, that would certainly get my support. The digital modules within the new Certificate and Diploma modules are certainly a good start though.

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