Marketing Is Business: The Wisdom Of Peter Drucker

Contributor: Michael Brenner
Posted: April 8, 2018

I have been using a lot of Peter Drucker quotes in blogs and presentations since I entered marketing over 18 years ago. But recently someone asked me when and where Drucker said some of these things, particularly:

The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself… The aim of marketing is to make selling superfluous. 

So I did some research and found this great paper by Frederick E. Webster Jr., published in the Academy of Marketing Science.

I found the paper really fascinating and would like to summarize it here for all of you to read and consider as you add those finishing touches to your marketing plans. And I hope you will come to the same conclusion I did: It’s a good time to be in Marketing!

Marketing IS Management: The Wisdom of Peter Drucker

That’s the title Frederick gave his paper. But isn’t marketing and management and Drucker’s writings all about business? So I decided to use the more modern term in the blog title.

I think many marketers will agree that Drucker’s quote above is one of the best descriptions of the aim or goal of marketing. And yet, I was surprised to learn that Drucker himself didn’t consider himself an expert in marketing.

It’s also important to understand that Drucker considered marketing to be the responsibility of the managing leadership within a business, not a separate function.

And it is this view that often gets lost in many B2B Marketing organizations where marketing is subservient to sales. When in fact, we should work hand-in-hand to support our buyers through their journey.

Here is another famous Drucker quote to support this point:

There is only one valid definition of business purpose: to create a customer… Because it is its purpose to create a customer, any business enterprise has two — and only these two—basic functions: marketing and innovation…

He continues:

Marketing is so basic that it is not just enough to have a strong sales department and to entrust marketing to it. Marketing is not only much broader than selling; it is not a specialized activity at all. It encompasses the entire business.

It is the whole business seen from the point of view of its final result, that is from the customer’s point of view. Concern and responsibility for marketing must therefore permeate all areas of the enterprise.

Two Things Every Marketer Must Know

In his paper, Webster asserts that Drucker had two very fundamental views of marketing:

  1. Marketing is a core discipline of the business (Marketing IS Business)
  2. The primary value of corporate culture is “customer orientation”

Or to put it another way, marketing is really important and the job of marketing (focusing on customers) is the most important aspect of a successful business.

If you don’t believe me, the paper even asserts that research has backed up the fact that customer and market-oriented businesses achieve better business results in the form of revenue and profit.

The paper goes on to discuss:

  • The importance of balancing a focus on short-term financial results and long-term viability.
  • The importance of an organization’s ability to adapt to changing market conditions.
  • The need for continuous innovation based on a deep understanding of customer needs.
  • The requirement that businesses seek to create satisfied employees as a moral, social and financial obligation.
  • A warning against the excessive use of sales promotional tactics.

Optimistic Future

Webster concludes his paper by saying that a careful review of Peter Drucker’s views on marketing, management and business paint an optimistic future for marketing.

Of course that’s music to my ears. I also believe that marketing is central to the business as the advocate for customers and as the core communicators of a value-based message.

And I think the markets shift to digital communication formats, mobile accessibility, everything on “the cloud,” social engagement and the renewed focus on content strategy are making this a good time to be a marketer.

But now it’s your turn:

  • Do you agree it’s a good time to be a marketer?
  • Have you been inspired by Peter Drucker and his famous quotes?
  • Have you used them in your own business?