Why the Chinese have a more accountable understanding of marketing

This post is by Darren Woolley, Founder of TrinityP3With his background as analytical scientist and creative problem solver, Darren brings unique insights and learnings to the marketing process. He is considered a global thought leader on agency remuneration, search and selection and relationship optimisation.

When we were first translating our TrinityP3.com website for our TrinityP3.com.cn website, there were a number of decisions that needed to be made.

As anyone who has had to translate Mandarin into English or English into Mandarin will know, there are many words and phrases in both languages that do not translate directly or completely in a way that leaves you completely comfortable that the full meaning has been communicated.

But for a marketing management consultancy, the translation of the word Marketing was important to get right.

Chinese for marketing

Marketing in Mandarin

Marketing is two characters营 ying and销 xiao.

The literal translation of these characters is ‘Managing Selling’ or perhaps ‘Managing Sales’. Or it could be to ‘Manage the Market’. Of course, like most aspects of language, it is not that clear cut.

Both characters have a number of meanings including a reference to military spending. But these are the characters that confer the meaning of marketing in the Chinese language. And don’t forget that the Chinese culture has a 5,000 year old history and tradition as a trading and sales culture.

营ying 销xiao
nouncamp, battalion, army, barrack nounpin, market, sell
verbdeal with, manage, operate, run, trade verbcancel, consume, do away with, sell, spend

Increased accountability to revenue

Since the global recession there has been an increased focus on the financial performance of marketing. This has taken two forms; the increased demand for measuring marketing’s contribution to profit and the application of the procurement process to reduce cost. Both cost reduction and revenue improvement deliver increased marketing performance.

The difficulty in measuring the financial contribution of marketing lies in the narrow view we have of marketing. Many organisations define marketing within the concept of promotions and simply see it as the advertising department communicating value propositions and promotional offers. (Derogatively referred to as the colouring-in department).

Until the increased use of digital marketing, it has proven difficult to measure direct contribution of promotions (beyond direct response). But technology and the data collected in the online digital environment means we are able to better measure the direct impacts of the many marketing communications activities undertaken by the marketing department.

But what if we define marketing as ‘managing sales’ or ‘managing the market’?

Then we effectively expand to role of marketing beyond communications to managing a greater part of the customer experience.

Marketing and Sales

Before going further, I just want to note my belief in the usual practice of saying “Sales and Marketing” is chronologically incorrect. In the process of generating sales, the marketing role is to create awareness, demand and desirability. The role of sales is then to ensure the relationship is developed and the transaction completed. From the consumer or customer’s point of view it is “Marketing and then Sales”.

In the Management of Sales the role of marketing operates beyond the communications between the brand and customer, and extends to managing and co-ordinating all aspects of the customer interactions including e-commerce, retail, customer service, call centres, public relations, product and service development and delivery, pricing and more.

In this model, marketing is more than just advertising or marketing communications, but is in fact the management of the whole customer experience or journey with the business or brand leading to purchase and repurchase. But at each step responsible and accountable for revenue and profit contribution, both short and long term.

Time for a name change?

Talking with a number of senior marketers, there is a belief that the title marketer has outlived it usefulness. In each case they believed that a focus on customer, rather then the market was more relevant and important in today’s connected age.

Look at the number of companies who now have Chief Customer Officers, rather then Chief Marketing Officers. The CCO role usually embraces the management of all aspects of the business with a customer exchange of interface.

If you think about the concept of marketing being the management of sales and the market then this is a more expansive definition of the new Chief Customer Officer role. Rather than being confined by the term marketing as just a small role in the customer journey or experience perhaps we embrace the idea of the CCO.

Or the alternative is to embrace the Chinese meaning of marketing and to position marketing as the role that leads both Marketing and Sales within the organisation, and is accountable for the financial performance across both.

What do you think?

About Darren Woolley

Darren is considered a thought leader on all aspects of marketing management. A Problem Solver, Negotiator, Founder & Global CEO of TrinityP3 – Marketing Management Consultants, founding member of the Marketing FIRST Forum and Author. He is also a Past-Chair of the Australian Marketing Institute, Ex-Medical Scientist and Ex-Creative Director. And in his spare time he sleeps. Darren’s Bio Here Email: darren@trinityp3.com

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