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Loyalty and the renaissance of marketing

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Once upon a time, there was a discipline called Marketing, and it was the undisputed king in the Land of Business. King Marketing's power and importance were extolled throughout the land. In recent times, alas, King Marketing has been overthrown by other disciplines, including Finance, Strategic Planning (once a loyal subject of Marketing) and Manufacturing. These usurpers now rule the Land of Business, and Marketing's loyalists have been forced into subservient roles. Those who still pledge fealty to King Marketing ask the question far and wide, "What has led to the decline and fall of the king, and how might he be restored to his previous glory?"

The short fable on page 10 describes a remarkable development that has taken place in the past 25 years. Unfortunately, it is a story all too real, as any marketing professional can tell you. Not long ago, marketing was clearly seen as the engine propelling business forward, the discipline that integrated the functional areas of the firm to serve the needs of the customer. It was understood that marketing played a key role in the success of the enterprise. Today, marketing departments around the world are struggling with diminished stature and thinning ranks as layoffs target those who cannot justify their contribution to corporate profits.

The status of the marketing profession has been diminished for one simple reason: It has failed to keep pace with advances in other disciplines and has not defined for itself a meaningful and measurable role that is critical to the mission of the firm.

Finance has jumped ahead of marketing by innovating new capital structures, such as partial spinouts of divisions, and through powerful advances in measurement/information systems, such as activity-based costing. Leveraged buyouts and the strong influence of Wall Street also have elevated the importance of finance in...