What is Marketing?
Chris Millard


I’m one of those grumpy boomers who millennials keep writing about. I think your post is a good one from a skills perspective, but missing the big picture (and a few skills). Hear me out.

Marketing is the front end of the sales process. Depending on what your buyer’s journey looks like (this varies from industry to industry) marketing performs some or all of these functions:

  • Educates the potential customer about their need, your solution, your company.
  • Makes it easier for your sales team to reach the right prospects, avoid the wrong ones, and shorten the sales cycle.
  • Drives customer completely through the sales process.
  • Learns about customer’s needs and buying process and communicates that to your product design team and sales team.

The skill sets I see missing in your Venn diagram (which I like, by the way) are the skills about researching & understanding customer personas, customer’s “buyer’s journey” and developing that understanding into actionable activities that are then communicated to other relevant parts of the organization.

I completely agree with your concept that “working in marketing” is outdated. It comes from an era when marketing metrics were not available and so the marketing process was not well defined (or at least not measurable). Your insight of having distinct aspects of marketing with narrow but deep knowledge is a good one.

As companies grow, they hire people with narrower but deeper expertise. That also requires effort in coordination so all those people work together. The person who does this coordination for marketing professionals needs to be a marketing generalist (like an orchestra conductor who isn’t expert in any one instrument but had an understanding of all). From my perspective, that person should NOT be a VP of marketing, but should be a Chief Revenue Officer who is responsible for both marketing and sales because she understands how they are different ends of the same process.