‘Customers should always come first’, after all, that’s what marketing is about isn’t it? Well, yes and no. While the customer should remain the focus of organisation activities in most cases, satisfying customers properly requires us to broaden the relationships we have with suppliers, employees, investors, sales channels etc. We need to harness these stakeholder groups in support of the products and services we provide to customers. To be competitive, all parts of a complex web of relationships, networks and interactions have to be working effectively.
Take Starbucks for example. A couple of years on, we’ve just about forgotten that controversy over their corporate tax arrangements was at the front of mind of many, some of whom chose to cross the road to Costa Coffee or Caffè Nero in protest. Investors, employees, regulators, media, social commentators, finance providers and many more stakeholders can have a powerful effect on our operations. So whose job is it to understand these groups and to communicate with them? As so often, it all depends on the size and nature of the organisation, but to generalise, I’d like to see marketing taking the initiative and getting its arms round as much of this liaison as possible. As professional relationship builders and communicators, we’re in the ideal place. As digital marketing takes the dominant role, there may not be much choice. The bloggers and social media wires will be buzzing as much about the latest customer service or social issue as much as enthusiasts hailing the latest product development.
Terry Nicklin, CAM Course Leader and tutor