ADVENTURES IN MISPLACED MARKETING
(sold by ABC-Clio/Greenwood)
by
Herbert Jack Rotfeld
Auburn University Alumni Professor
Department of Marketing
Auburn, Alabama, U.S.A.
http://www.auburn.edu/~rotfehj



Preface

Chapter 1. Myths and legends of the modern marketing concept

Section I: Sell, Sell, Sell: The Modern Production Orientation of Marketing Companies
"The marketing concept? That's just an abstraction?"

Textbooks provide useful summaries of material, but they can leave misleading impressions that my students hold as immutable as biblical text. After a book presents the modern marketing concept, the future practitioners believe that all modern successful firms follow a consumer orientation, with the only exceptions found among small or unsuccessful businesses. In reality, many large and successful organizations misplace marketing and instead are actually following an inner-directed production or selling orientation in dealing with customers. However, just because these firms lost the marketing concept's consumer orientation does not mean they are going to be unprofitable. They are just not serving consumer needs. Sometimes products from many firms consistently fail to serve many consumers, so consumer are stuck with what is available. Some people repeatedly go to stores after a bad service experience, especially if alternatives also provide the same bad service. An otherwise bad advertising campaign could seem to generate some desirable consumer reactions by luck or happenstance, with managers unable to see how the dysfunctional messages provide much less than optimal results.

Chapter 2. Hobson's choices in the marketplace

Chapter 3. Without bad service, there wouldn't be any service at all

Chapter 4. Advertising only a copywriter would love

Section II: Opportunities lost: pitfalls by arrogant ignorance
"We know what we're doing. Trust us."

Our class had a lot of material to cover during the term, so I didn't feel we could waste a day. But an assistant to the dean scheduled a guest speaker for us without asking me in advance. When I objected, I was told that the visitor could talk expertly on any topic I had planned to cover. "After all," he said, "your course is only marketing. How difficult can that be?"  The basic directives for public health organizations, trade associations and even many government agencies in this section are to "serve public (or members') interests or needs." Logically, this would mean that their decisions should apply a marketing perspective, though in most cases the group's decisions makers don't understand what marketing means. Well, maybe the people in charge don't misunderstand it, but unfortunately, they tend to act as if it's irrelevant. Losing the view of the marketing concept, they follow a production orientation. The misplaced marketing perspectives of this section are most vexing because these groups do not need to maximize profits. Their main agenda is not necessarily political. Whatever the reason, their misplaced marketing results in an organization's failure to serve anyone except for, perhaps, the organization's leaders who feel they are accomplishing something by the sake of the activity.

Chapter 5. Hey gang, let's put on a show!

Chapter 6. A trade association serving itself

Chapter 7. Government "serving" the consumers' interests

Section III. Problems of just satisfying consumer needs
"We're providing a service people want, just like Al Capone."


In the "Star Trek" television programs and movies, each alien culture personifies a human archetype. Ferengi are the marketing-spouting graft-riddled and avarice-driven, traveling the universe searching for profit by any means necessary. Many of the examples in this section involve decisions by people with the world view of graduates of the Ferengi School of Business Ethics. The businesses and organizations of sections I and II misplaced marketing because they were not following a marketing perspective in basic decisions. At best, their consumer orientation was lost and they followed the a production orientation to decisions. The organizations in this section could be doing a good job of applying marketing perspectives, but marketing is either abused or results in outcomes that are not in the best interests of either the customers or society. Businesses satisfy customer needs to help maximize profits. Non-profit organizations find marketing useful to work toward their self-interested concerns. Yet a firm's self-interest might not serve the best interest of the customers and, even if those people were well served, good service to consumer segments is not a societal goal. Giving people benefits they think they need instead of what they should be getting distorts important social values and priorities. And marketing sometimes is attacked for helping a firm maximize profits from products that groups of non-customers would like to make illegal (if they could).

Chapter 8. Self-regulation as a marketing tool

Chapter 9. We'd rather you didn't do that

Chapter 10. Fear of marketing

Chapter 11. The "wrong" benefits I: politics and popular culture

Chapter 12. The "wrong" benefits II: schools and education

Section IV. Explanations and criticisms by misplaced marketing
"Why are you doing that??!"

Up to this point, the primary focus has been on outcomes, the consumer frustrations or social harms from misplaced marketing. Some reasons for the lack of marketing in decisions have been delved, criticized or noted, but examples were mostly from the end results. In the next four chapters, the marketing perspective is lost due to the process or incentives faced by organizations. Misplaced marketing comes from the job itself. In the advertising business, so-called "targeted agencies" are employed to rewrite advertising to appeal to minority groups. Yet these companies exist in a racist ghetto which presumes that members of demographic minority groups are incapable of taking a marketing perspective and applying it to people physically unlike themselves. Some earlier chapters noted a consumer fear of marketing people precisely targeting narrow audiences, but e-mail spam exists because decision makers using this tool find it more efficient to ignore target marketing concerns and just send messages to as many people as possible. Since modern business terms increasingly confuse the marketing guide of public relations and the communications tool of publicity, marketing perspectives get lost with the publicity tool employed without reference to any marketing strategy or assessment of the audiences. And finally, looking at public organizations, misplaced marketing explains decisions and adds a perspective to the issues that few would have ever considered before.

Chapter 13. Hiring the wrong "right" person

Chapter 14. The spam incentive

Chapter 15. The limits of spin

Chapter 16. Before you decide, get out of the office

Part V. Concluding notes

Chapter 17. It's just misplaced marketing


From Adventures in Misplaced Marketing (Westport, CT: Quorum Books, 2001, sold by ABC-Clio/Greenwood), by Herbert Jack Rotfeld. Copyright retained by author, all rights reserved.