• Michelle Wade

Flick the switch on those lesser known marketing functions

Updated: May 18

Earlier this week my teenage son asked me "what work do you do?" and I told him "I’m a marketer." School at home seems to mean he is permanently glued to some kind of electronic device, so he immediately googled ‘marketer’ and said "oh, so you’re a person who advertises or promotes something." Happy with the answer, he wandered off, while I was left to ponder all the marketing functions that aren't captured by that brief definition.

I've come to the realisation that in the current economic environment, many business owners and executives are reducing marketing expenditure and resources based on this widely accepted definition of what marketing is. So, I’m putting the spotlight on three marketing functions that should be prioritised, and further invested in, to ensure businesses sustain their financial performance and emerge from tough times.

Masters of Markets

Understanding the external market/s that a business operates in, defining what the market position is and keeping on top of trends, threats and opportunities is a key marketing responsibility. There’s a lot of different sources and platforms that can be used to gather this information, but it takes some effort to distil the insights, so it’s a marketing function that is often put on the backburner during busy times.

In tough times, marketers should:

  • revive their market knowledge

  • increase research on competitors and alternatives

  • review the market position

  • take note of what’s happening with supply chains, distribution and vendors

  • look at possible entry into new markets.


Making this intelligence and insight available to the whole business is a great way to provide value.

Custodians of the Customer

Marketers are perfectly positioned to gather a complete picture of customer needs, wants, behaviours and trends, determine which clients to focus on and share this information across the business. These insights are invaluable for business planning, innovation, improving customer service and business growth.

When operating during a recession, marketers should:

  • stay up to date with the changing needs of existing customers

  • identify, research and recommend new customer segments

  • become the ‘voice’ of the customer internally.

Ensuring the customer is front of mind when decisions are made about operations, new business models and brands, will help businesses maintain their existing market share and discover new opportunities for growth.

Bastions of Brand

Brand strategy is an integral part of marketing. Marketers generally have the responsibility for building strong brands that add value to the business and drive financial performance in both thriving markets and slowing economies.

In times of change and transformation it’s worthwhile:

  • reviewing the brand strategy to ensure it remains relevant

  • including brand as a key part of the innovation process

  • adjusting brand messaging to minimise any gaps between how customers perceive the brand and what it delivers when change is implemented.

So, when the FY21 marketing budget is being discussed and the inevitable cuts to expenditure are on the table, remember there is more to marketing than the functions of advertising and promotion. Consistent investment in brand, market and customer intelligence has been proven to have a positive impact on business performance during a recession and in the longer term.

Now, I'm wondering on how to persuade those Oxford dictionary publishers to change their definition of marketer?