Marketing – a business process and the public sector. #marketingcommercialism
Most public sector organisations have ‘communication and marketing’ teams and job titles which may also include the word ‘marketing’. Many are also increasingly asking for marketing qualifications in addition to PR and journalist backgrounds.
It seems to me that many of these teams, based on what is asked of them, focus heavily on communications, PR, reputation/crisis management related activities and within local government building trust with citizens. The sector has also been great at delivering excellent behaviour change campaigns – where the aim is to ultimately improve lives and deliver triple bottom line business benefits. And while this is likely to continue to be important, it may be worth pausing and reflecting for a moment, as we may be on the cusp of this changing too.
Public Sector organisations up and down the country are facing unprecedented budget challenges. As organisations continually work hard to balance their budgets through efficiencies and needing to make tough decisions – we’ve reached a point where we must also turn our attention to brave new revenue generating opportunities. Many services within public sector organisations already operate trading functions and so revenue generation; profit and loss accounts and understanding unit cost to inform cost analysis and pricing strategies may already be part of the business model. For others it may be new.
It should come as no surprise that public sector organisations need to become even more entrepreneurial and innovative in their thinking and approach to delivering services and this may mean considering entry into new markets – engaging in new B2C and B2B activity.
So what might this mean for ‘communications and marketing professionals?’ Well, they will most certainly need to play an increasing role in helping organisations and their services make those informed decisions. That said – it cannot be down to Communication and Marketing colleagues alone. Marketing is a business process part of an inter-relationship between operations, IT, HR, finance and others, so it is critical that communications and marketing are around the table early enough to offer strategic input to the business proposition and brand management discussions as well as supporting colleagues with any related promotional collateral that may need to follow.
Communications and Marketing need to lead and deliver some of the work streams linked to these projects which some managers may otherwise be tempted to outsource to external marketing agencies. This is really important. After all – can anyone be more passionate about a new initiative than the organisation which owns it. Of course – some elements of work may need to be outsourced as part of building capacity – and that’s okay.
The big question public sector communications and marketing professionals might want to ask themselves is ‘where do I fit?’ in this change and ‘am I equipped to meet the needs of my organisation now and into the future?’ For example, are you asked to be involved in product/service development strategies, positioning and pricing strategies? Could you help if you were? Are you willing to learn and up skill to help your organisation?
We operate in challenging times, we also operate in a time of great opportunity – I would go as far as saying ‘exciting.’
Not only are central communication and marketing functions well placed to be the corporate voice for their organisation – they are also well placed to be key strategic players in helping their organisations to embrace commercialism through new ways of working which embed marketing in the thinking from the outset. They also have a good corporate view of their organisation and are often in a better position to schedule what should happen when and can help in joining up the dots for a better return on investment at every level.
Due to my personal passion for marketing as a business discipline – and because there is so much more to ‘marketing’ than managing communications, delivering campaigns and producing brochures (also very important) – I’m pleased to have played a part in the forthcoming event on the 21 November (2014) ‘Commercialism, Marketing and the Future’ – an LGcomms seminar in partnership with Government Communication Service and kindly supported by The Chartered Institute of Marketing and the Nottingham Business School, Nottingham Trent University.
The event is free to organisations which are members of LGcomms or £100 for non-members. If you’re a non-member and interested in communications and marketing within the public sector then you might want to consider becoming an organisational member at an annual fee of £250 which allows you to have more than one colleague attend at no additional cost because you have organisation membership.