It is almost universally accepted that marketing and business strategy go hand in hand. The best business strategy always entails understanding and meeting customer needs, which is precisely what marketing does.
But it wasn’t always as so.
A recent Harvard Business Article highlights how business strategy and marketing started as two separate disciplines in the ‘60’s when marketing was defined as the 4 P’s and strategy as how a company is different from its competitors. Over time, the two areas have merged and today most of us think about strategy and marketing considering the customer AND the competition across all marketing disciplines.
I have always thought about, practiced and taught marketing and strategy in an integrated manner. But it made me realize that not everyone thinks of it in this way and I was grateful for Roger Martin for shedding historical insight on this fact. He explains how marketing and strategy eventually converged:
“Marketers figured out that the crux of the issue was product, price, promotion and place relative to competition and sometimes that meant completely changing every P in order to carve out a useful place relative to competitors with some set of customers. Strategists figured out that beating competition entailed having intimate knowledge of exactly what customers wanted so that the capabilities they invested in would actually meet a customer need in a way that would result in better performance than that of competitors.”
Imagine the internal strife for a company that divides its business strategy and marketing strategy. One unfortunate outcome would be messaging that describes the competitive advantage of a business over its competitors—when its customers are not even aware the competitors. Another outcome might be a complete focus on customer needs. This of course is not a bad thing at all—unless a business thinks it doesn’t have any competitors and it get completely blindsided by a competitor it didn’t even know existed. And still another potential result of treating strategy and marketing as separate is the internal silos it creates in a business by creating either a duplication of effort, or teams competing for attention and resources.
For all these reasons it’s important to erase any division between marketing and strategy and focus on creating integrated strategies to meet customer needs, better than your competition.