Has Marketing lost its way or is it just changing? A perspective by Bernard Page

Where does Customer Experience (CX) ‘sit’ in an organisation? This is a question I am frequently asked. Some say the correct answer is ‘Customer Service’. Some say ‘with the CEO’. Some might say under the responsibility of a ‘Chief Customer Officer’, or a ‘Chief Experience Officer’. Others might say ‘Marketing’. The debate rages on globally – is there a right answer to the question? Well I would love to know what you think!! Please do share your view by commenting on this post.

In the meantime, I am delighted to share the perspective from the marketing community. Among other things, I am the Course Director of Customer Experience Management for the CIM (Chartered Institute of Marketing). The CIM strongly believe that CX is within the remit of the marketing function. However, in practice, I am certainly not seeing marketing functions consistently taking control of it.

Last week I discussed this (among other things), with an ex colleague of mine. Bernard Page is a very experienced, albeit remarkably humble marketer. We talked about whether or not the marketing discipline has actually ‘lost its way’ in recent times. I hope you enjoy reading Bernard’s thoughts as much as I did:

As, almost, a career marketer, the question piqued my interest so I wanted to explore this idea a little more and offer an opinion. I don’t want to defend marketing as a discipline as such but want to understand for myself what may be happening and what, if anything, we should do about it.

Most of the marketing profession have heard of and been occasionally jibed by the phrase “Marketing is too important to be left to the marketing department!” and whilst the more sensitive amongst us (and we can be a little) might become a little put out, there is more than a strand of truth in it.

Back in 2000 I was amongst a group of MBA under graduates discussing the role and future of marketing. The group concluded that marketing must “escape” the marketing department and begin to pervade the wider business. Pure marketing teams would shrink and new ones would emerge. This view has proved to be right over time as we now see new functions and roles emerging such as Chief Customer Officer, Customer Experience Director to name just two.

Has marketing, therefore, disappeared and no longer relevant in modern business? Absolutely not! The marketing teams may have changed in structure and function but the “marketing philosophy” is alive and thriving in more areas of business than ever.

Customer has never been more important in business than now and you can see board level representation of ‘voice of customer’ in many top flight organisations. The notion of brand, a core tenet of marketing strategy, is now in the vernacular in all conversations in the businesses I am in contact with today. Customer experience is now a new science in itself and I have never seen so many experience maps and design thinking around the customer journey than there are right now.

Marketing has transfigured into a new, agile discipline that, rightly, touches all parts of the business and is redefining itself into a new, though not singular, leadership role. Each constituent member of an organisation must be marketing literate be that in brand definition, customer closeness, experience, communications and analytics. It is indeed an exciting time for marketing and maybe the most fascinating thing about what is happening right now it is that marketing is no longer defined with one word. Marketing is the business of the future so we should celebrate the fact that it has finally escaped its own self-imposed shackles to become more than the sum of its parts.

So, what of the future of marketing? I’ll leave you with a phrase that I first heard back in the same conversation in 2000 with my fellow students and see where this leads us. The future of marketing is “predictive utility!” Discuss!

Please do ‘discuss’ and share your own perspectives by commenting on this post.

Bernard Page is an independent marketing consultant, trainer and portfolio marketing director with The Marketing Centre.

If you’d like to discuss this or other marketing matters, please contact Bernard on 0777 428 3123

My book, ‘Customer What? – the honest and practical guide to customer experience’ – is now available to purchase! You can do so on Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk. If Amazon does not ship to your part of the world, please email me at ian@ijgolding.com and I will arrange an alternative method to ship a book to you. Enjoy the read!!

By |2018-07-09T10:09:55+00:00July 9th, 2018|CX Leadership, CX Professionals, CX Strategy|3 Comments


  1. Beth Richardson July 9, 2018 at 2:55 pm - Reply

    Very thought-provoking. As someone who believes CX belongs in Marketing, I am going to answer ‘yes’ to both your questions. Marketing has changed. But I don’t think it’s Marketing that has lost its way, but whole organisations.

    Is there a correlation or causation? I am not sure. Marketing is a technical discipline, with a commercial role, but for me it is also there to help the organisation identify its North Star – how do we create value? who for? why should they choose us over any other? If Marketing specialisms are distributed around the organisation, this doesn’t necessarily result in something which is more than the sum of its parts. It can obscure the North Star and create an alignment challenge. Those essentials you listed – brand definition, customer closeness, experience, communications and analytics – don’t join up. Arguably the larger the organisation the bigger the risk.

    To end with a further question, if Marketing hadn’t changed would CX have emerged as a profession in its own right?

    Brilliant post Bernard, thank you for writing it.

  2. Yiannis Maos July 9, 2018 at 3:58 pm - Reply

    A very interesting topic and one that’s close to my heart. I particularly loved this… “Marketing has transfigured into a new, agile discipline that, rightly, touches all parts of the business and is redefining itself into a new, though not singular, leadership role.”

    Personally, I believe that marketing is indeed alive and well but I do believe the role of marketing has changed and needs to. I believe the marketer’s role is to empower customers and facilitate conversations.

    Another thing that has bugged me about Marketing is Customer Relationship Management (CRM), surely this phrase is outdated? Do customers really want to be managed? Instead, shouldn’t it be Customer Relationship Empowerment? CRE for me is an opportunity to start collaborating with customers – only then will we build trust and affinity towards our brands.

  3. John Morris July 11, 2018 at 8:24 am - Reply

    Great topic and I would argue that it is probably the most important regarding customer experience improvement.
    The problem with customer experience is that it touches every part of the organisation. As a result this topic should not be about where the responsibility sits or who owns it. This must be about who is accountable and as everyone throughout the business has a level of accountability putting the responsibility in one specific department can absolve other departments from any accountability.

    The other element of customer experience is that it is about people, customers yes and employees, management and suppliers. As a result if any customer experience initiative is to be successful it has to be lead from the top of the business with accountability running through all departments.

    Remembering that with customer experience everything is connected to everything else.

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