It is said that ‘No culture can live if it attempts to be exclusive.’ And, rightly so! Culture, by its very basic being, is inclusive and brings more people into the fold. It is, simply put, a way of life built on the capable shoulders of a community.
In the context of an organisation, culture plays a pivotal role in distinguishing a great company from a good one. It is a ‘way of life’ for people and a shared way of doing something. It enables a singularity of thought, outlook, attitude, values, and goals among an organisation, which helps it achieve heights that would have been otherwise unconquerable.
The way I see it, ‘marketing’, while perceived as only a department in most organisations, must become a ‘culture’. It aligns the goals of employees with that of the organisation, but more importantly with customers. Are you wondering how? Let me explain.
Marketing is uniquely positioned to not just be the voice to the customer, but also the voice of customer within the organisation. Advertising, which is the most visible part of marketing, presents the viewpoint of the organisation to the customer. However marketing also engages with customers to understand their pain points and shortcomings of the current market offerings. Equipped with these insights, it can help the organisation to not only create solutions that address their pain points, but also a story around your product/service that resonates with them.
Unless your brand is built with the principles of customer experience in mind, it cannot be a sustainable organisation.When you perpetuate marketing as a culture across all departments, it changes the way your employees function – it becomes more inclusive of the customer rather than staying exclusive to the company’s thinking and business objectives.
As a brand you must think – why do we exist? What is our promise to our customers? What do we need to do in order to fulfil that promise to the customer? What is the role of each department in fulfilling this promise, ranging from sales, customer service, product development, finance, HR, research, IT etc.
An excellent illustration of a brand putting this into action is Walmart, where ‘what does the customer want’ has become a ‘way of life.’ For its customers – an average American household, the retail giant has offered a massive selection of merchandise at the best rate. They breathe and live their promise of ‘Always Low Prices.’ Some years back, they rebranded themselves to ‘Save Money, Live Better.’ At the core of both ‘Always low prices’ and ‘Save Money, Live Better’ is the promise of ‘Every Day Low Prices.’
With the promise being clearly defined – offering ‘Every Day Low Prices’ to the customer – Walmart understands that in order to stay true to their promise, it needs to keep its costs down. In order to keep the costs down, the entire organisation practices the culture of ‘Every Day Low Cost’. All departments contribute to reigning in cost, which has resulted in efficiencies in supply chain, supplier management, leveraging technology at both front end and back end.
This is what happens when an organisation’s promise to the customer becomes embedded in its work philosophy. As a natural consequence, marketing ceases to be a department and transforms into a culture.
Nobody said it better than David Packard – marketing is too important to be left to marketing department.
(The author is chief marketing officer, Edelweiss Tokio Life Insurance)