The Two Marketings Explained

You’re forgiven if you get confused by how business folks use the word ‘marketing.’ It seems to stretch far in scope of meaning. 

Most of the time, it gets used in the little ‘m’ sense: marketing as a set of communication activities serving a larger business strategy. Most of the marketing podcasts operate at this level. Marketing strategy then becomes a master communication strategy; an organizing objective referred to by those executing marketing (hopefully). 

But, there is another definition common to large CPG brands. This is Marketing with a big “M.” And it refers to what I call “strategic planning” (not to be confused with the ad agency use of this phrase!!). Marketing with a big “M” is what business school refers to as the 4Ps. However, as a list of tactical plays, the scope is now well beyond communications activities on the package and in media channels. 

But strategic planning requires a master competitive strategy to give purpose to the 4P playbook of any consumer business. It’s the hypothesis you’re testing in the market. The tactics are the mechanics of the test. You’ll be iterating them as you learn about your fans, especially the lucrative ones who will make you the most of your money. 

As a founder, you need to focus on marketing with a big “M.” You need to be the strategist coordinating the playbook and making sure it’s crafted to compete well. You need to make sure you’re investing in tactics with high returns. You need to focus on a few tactical elements you can excel on and execute with a ‘good enough’ mentality on the others. Only Big companies can afford to pursue tactical perfection. They have the staff and budget to pull this off.

You don’t.

Since your fans drive exponential growth, focusing on Marketing helps you, the founder, focus your playbook broadly to reach them at the proper channels, at a premium price with the right messaging and symbolism.  It’s your job to synthesize all the executional functions. It’s a complex analytical position to hold, but you need to step up if you want to grow fast for years. It’s a role occupied by the smartest, most senior marketers in any public CPG firm. I used to work for these folks a lot. They aren’t the folks who apply for your Director of Marketing position, not even close.

Dr. James Richardson

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