The everyday problem solver! What every marketing professional should do in 2020

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What qualifies you as a world-class marketer is not the title or position you hold but the innovation, and problem-solving ability you possess!

This paper really is not going to be about one other undergraduate or MBA class because honestly, it’s boring, besides it won’t take us to the world-class status in the way we do things. I write it with a very heavy heart but with so much excitement because I am overly passionate about what role great marketing can play in a business, big or small or even in your personal life. You are reading this not because you have no idea what marketing is but oh well, how about you see and make of it more differently. I am just out to make you realize what rockstar execution looks like and how you too can be a rockstar in what you do!

I have had very interesting discussions with people from various disciplines over the course of my life and career. The central questions have been, “Who is a marketer?” Is it the person who holds a marketing qualification? “Is it that cousin of yours who talks too much, whom you have recommended being in marketing because they are a talker?” What does a marketing professional really do? Why do marketing people get less of board & CEO seats? How do you succeed as a marketer? What’s wrong with us marketers?

Peter Drucker, one of the most respected leaders in business, says “Innovation and marketing make the money, everything else is a cost” I went to college and spent a significant part of my life studying the theory of marketing which didn’t help a lot because subsequent to that I joined a whole graduate training program supposedly meant to prepare me to be a “manager”. The on the job training story was totally different from what my college lecturers had spent 4 years feeding me and this hit me hard till I started asking questions. Had I started my training program at year one of college, was my story going to be different? Definitely it was!

Now let me start arguing my case and what I really believe is the number one role of an astute or sharp marketing professional. Being great begins with recognizing that during the subsistence of one’s life or business, you will always face problems. Marketing problems can come in any form, whether it’s a new or maturing product, declining sales, the threat of competition, economic crisis as we are currently facing in Zimbabwe or any other. Their existence does not necessarily mean trouble, if we are alert, it simply says it’s an opportunity to create the best solution for the development and progression of businesses.

The first critical skill, one has to have is to be able to clearly identify and define the “marketing problem”. In mid-2016 I was working with a team of great marketing minds. At that time the telecommunications, media & technology business I was working identified that there was no defined product offer for the youthful market, thus your 16-34-year age band. The marketing problem here was “No product is currently existing that targets the youth”. After fully scoping the problem through research, which is a very important aspect of a lasting solution, we started developing a youth-centered mix. A cross-functional team of 8 people was assembled, what followed was a project charter, we will talk about this in the papers to come, research, inclusive of visits to Kenya and Rwanda to see other similar products by mobile network operators. This birthed one of the greatest youth-centered offerings in the Zimbabwean telecommunications market today

Now that the problem is well defined and known, you need to measure the magnitude. It’s size then informs the attention it requires. At this point, another skill comes into play, problem-solving, which is synonymous with Intrapreneurish or entrepreneurship. Let me also now be quick to argue that, Marketing + Innovation = Entrepreneurship/Intrapreneurship! This therefore means, marketing is the business. You can’t separate problem-solving from marketing. The world-class marketer is actively solving problems and this is what makes the money and separation from the rest of the competition. Marketers immerse themselves in this process of problem-solving every single day! One of the greatest marketing minds of all time is the late Steve Jobs of Apple, he said to himself, what type of phone would best satisfy the device I would like to use and from there came the iPhone. Marketing never happens at the point of “Promotion – Advertising” it begins at the problem and “product”

Marketers don’t talk or say too many words, they are thinkers, they are business leaders, they are at the forefront of problem-solving products, processes, etc. If you are serious about, being great, you will start today at looking at how best you can solve the organization’s problems. Today if you look at your products, are you happy with their returns, are you happy with your organization’s service levels? What problem can you solve today?  Now that is world-class!

Lastly, the business is looking at you to save it! Your family is looking at you to change things! Your school is waiting for you to manifest! Your nation and industry are looking for you to lead! You have a starting point, ask what the problem is, study and find the problem, innovate around the problem, existing or one to come! Just market your way out of trouble! The greatness of a marketer is not in word but in-deed!

Article guest authored by Dennis C. Chagonda

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