The Incredible Shrinking Marketer

Scorned within organizations and consumed by misguided goals, modern marketers are suffering a crisis of confidence. A veteran says it’s time to return to the roots of brand management

Ken Wong, a faculty member at Smith School of Business for the past 30 years, takes an unflinching look at the state of marketing today, and does not like what he sees. In this white paper, he explains where marketers took a wrong turn and suggests ways they can get back on the right path.

"Marketing has always had a transformational concept," he writes. "Go back to the beginning of true marketing in its contemporary sense, brand management — that was our transformational model. The problem is that over time brand management has drifted from strategic to tactical. Brand management has become more focused on marketing communications, whether it is advertising, PR, social media. We are more focused on breaking through the clutter and standing out from the crowd with sexy and out-there ads and point-of-purchase displays than with fundamental issues like who we should sell to, what we should sell them, and how we should promote it.  

"We hear so much about whether marketing is an art or a science. It is some of both. But, more important, it is a discipline of identifying customers for whom you offer a credible message of superior value versus customers who can be fooled into buying your product. You may make that incremental sale but you won’t be able to hold onto it over the long haul. We have to get away from selling grand identities to selling grand competencies, away from focusing on awareness that brands exist to concentrating on what those brands stand for, what they are associated with."

Smith School of Business
Goodes Hall, Queen's University
Kingston, Ontario
Canada K7L 3N6

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