Time for certainty
I grapple with many straightforward marketing questions despite years of education and experience in the field. It's frustrating. Will this ever end? Will I never feel I have a solid understanding of this subject that I've turned into my career? And it's not just me - it feels like a common issue for many marketers.
Take, for example, the concept of a brand. A more central idea in marketing hardly exists, yet, ask ten experienced marketers to define the concept, and each has a different version. Most marketers need a paragraph to describe their interpretation of a brand instead of using a standardised, short, sharp definition. And so, here I am on the back of a career spanning 20 years, two marketing degrees, multiple short courses, hundreds of books and articles, thousands of hours, and I am still, like many, unclear of even the seemingly basic. What is a brand? Uhm...well, here's my definition...(which is likely different from my last one).
I work in a field of almost complete unclarity, yet I have to find my way? It must stop.
Is a company brand different from a product brand?
How do you promote both a brand and a product with a small budget? Or should you simply ignore the brand and promote the product?
What are the building blocks of a brand? Or is it unnecessary to deconstruct it and instead focus on finding the quickest route to answering the question "what do we want them to know about us"?
Is a brand also a value proposition, and how does it live together with campaign messages and sales stories?
I'm shooting myself in the foot with these examples as I don't want answers. I'm making a more significant point - why do I still have questions?
Indeed, by now, I should know precisely what a brand is, how to build one, promote one, and make sure it delivers sales. But, honestly, I don't feel 100% sure as each case presents a new set of challenges. It feels as if I need to re-think from scratch my way through each assignment.
"But have you read this book?" I hear you say. Again, that's not the point. No matter what I have read, I should, by now, have the answers. But I don't. After twenty years, a pilot confidently steps into the cockpit, but I step into a marketing challenge with trepidation. To add fuel to the fire, I now see disagreement about the usefulness of the very bible of marketing - Phillip Kotler's Marketing Management. Even at the most senior of expert levels - among the Professors of Marketing - it seems everything is up for debate. I work in a field of almost complete unclarity, yet I have to find my way? It must stop.
Most marketers need a paragraph to describe their interpretation of a brand instead of using a standardised, short, sharp definition.
I'm now entering my third decade as a marketer. I started my career in January 2002 as a Marketing Assistant at a regional company, and here I am typing this on the verge of January 2022. Will my insecurity last forever? I'm not up for it. Going forward, I want to pin things down and move on.
This third decade in marketing will be focused resolutely on finding answers and getting closure. I don't want to one day end my career still feeling like an amateur. I wish to ring-fence areas of doubt and move around them - not obsess over them. I don't want to be like a vehicle spinning tires in a pool of mud. I want to move forward.