In 1989 Peter Drucker wrote his famous editorial “Sell the Mailroom” in the Wall Street Journal. While most of Corporate America was working on improving internal efficiencies within self-sufficient operations, Drucker’s countercultural op-ed shifted the focus from the internal, vertical approach to “outsourcing” (a term first published in the Harvard Business Review in 1990). Since then, a plethora of business books have driven the focus on strengthening core competencies and outsourcing (or at least reducing) tasks unrelated to direct strategic objectives.

In recent years, Jim Collins continued this process with his landmark book, “Good to Great,” with the Hedgehog Principal helping businesses understand what drives their economic engine, what they are passionate about and what they can be the best at.

Since Drucker, each successive theory of productivity in Corporate America pointed the focus away from “self-sufficiency in all things” toward the fastest and most efficient way to achieve a robust return on investment. Ultimately, the trend continues to turn in-house services that do not focus on core competencies out to the marketplace of competitive ideas, thus freeing the creative capital of the company to focus on what they most excel at. Thus, Tom Peter’s oft-quoted proverb became the rule of thumb for companies everywhere, “Do what you do best and outsource the rest.”

Just prior to 2001, marketing departments notoriously became the repository for projects that did not focus on promoting the organizations essential core objectives. Through the years, the accumulation of payroll and miscellaneous projects drove the perception that marketing did little to impact the bottom line. Worse, because this perception was widely accepted, those directly responsible for marketing became further entrenched in tasks unrelated to mission critical objectives, creating more dissonance between sales and marketing thereby galvanizing perceptions about the impact strategic marketing can have on a business. Frustration finally culminated as burgeoning budgets gave way to the recession of 2001. The landscape of marketing would forever change.

If Marketing survived unscathed, it became savvier about services rendered to its colleagues. It also determined that it would focus on two essential ingredients to success:

  1. To aggressively produce and demonstrate ROI on all marketing related activities

  2. To equip colleagues with the most effective resources they need to promote the company

    This poses new challenges for marketing. High demand meets limited supply with most companies. At the executive and director levels, these “big picture” challenges are kept in fine focus. But the collaborative energy of the entire marketing team should also contribute, directly, to the entire company’s objectives. Yet, the demand for materials to promote the brand and provide resources to do so cannot be overlooked. Expectations, for the simplest of branded products, are extremely high both internally and externally.




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