Why I Love Marketing

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EditorinChief Ginger Conlon with the 2014 Marketing Hall of Femme honorees.
EditorinChief Ginger Conlon with the 2014 Marketing Hall of Femme honorees.

A friend recently asked me why I love marketing. After all, I've been obsessing over it and writing about it since 1985. There are three reasons: people, creativity, and technology.

When I say people, I mean customer relationships and behavioral psychology. The goal of marketing is to change customer behavior and drive action, whether that's to build affinity, encourage word of mouth, or spur a purchase. But more than that, it's about creating a win-win. Customer-centric marketing (and the best marketing is always customer centric) benefits companies by building affinity, loyalty, and sales; and it benefits customers because a company's products or services meets their needs, solves a problem, or fulfills a wish.

Artem Petakov, cofounder and co-CEO of top-rated healthy living app Noom, wisely said, “If you want customers to love you, help them self-actualize.” That's the people side of marketing at its best.

Marketing as art and science

The creative aspect of marketing for me is data- and gut-based campaigns that achieve whatever the desired customer action might be. Notable creative is emotive, memorable, even risky. It may not be new, but one of the most impactful examples to me is Dove's Campaign For Real Beauty. The campaign addressed a controversial issue, gained fans, and moved the needle on sales.

Moreover, the campaign wasn't a one-and-done ad or video. It was, and is, as much a movement as a marketing campaign. Dove has continued to evolve the campaign, launched in 2004; for example, by producing the short film Evolution, which transformed a “real woman” into a model—illustrating how the fashion industry helps to create unrealistic perceptions of beauty—and launching the Movement for Self-Esteem in 2010. In 2013 Dove released its Real Beauty Sketches video, which has garnered more than 62 million YouTube views to date.

I also continue to be fascinated by the magic that marketers can make with technology. The benefits may be as simple as the efficiency gained using marketing automation or as powerful as the personal connections that social helps to facilitate. And let's not overlook how the right tech tools can provide marketers with access to data that leads to surprising insight—insight that might reframe a single campaign or an entire marketing initiative.

CMOverachiever

There's one more reason I love marketing: It's a profession that offers myriad opportunities for women to shine and build an amazing career. Like our Marketing Hall of Femme honorees. The 18 chief marketers we highlight this year exemplify all that a customer- and data-centric approach to marketing can achieve (see “18 Leaders Who Put the Femme in Phenomenal.”) They excel not only in their marketing prowess, but also in their ability to lead their teams to attain outstanding results. Their stories and successes inspire me. I hope they'll inspire you, too, to see the magic in the people, creativity, and technology that makes marketing all that it is today.

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