Classic question, usually answered with a focus on the back-end of Marketing, namely promotion, advertising, brand awareness, etc. Even Al Ries, who I admire a lot, fell victim to this thinking in a recent article.
He says CEOs value innovation more than they value marketing. He fails to accept that Marketing (not just Marketing Communications efforts, which we call marketing with a small “m”) has a significant responsibility in innovation and new product success. Getting the product “right” and positioning it properly are Marketing’s critical contribution.
The cited article has lots of good stuff in it about the best product not always winning, but the best product positioned properly is tough to beat. That is Marketing’s total responsibility. Too many companies abdicate the product development partnership role of Marketing and I believe this directly results in the high failure rate of new products.
R&D cannot be left to their own devices when specifying new products, and asking Sales what new products should be results in chasing yesterday’s winners. Marketing must drive this effort and focus innovation where it will offer the appropriate return. And then, of course, they have to position things well.
As we have said for many years, and describe in our book, Value Acceleration, Marketing is the source of competitive advantage in today’s world. And, as we enter the so-called Age of the Consumer/Customer, who better than Marketing to make sure your company knows how to think like a customer, rather than just hoping the customer thinks like you.