As a discipline, marketing is in the process of transition from an art that is practised to a profession with strong theoretical foundations. In doing so it is following closely the precedents set by professions such as medicine, architecture and engineering, all of which have also been practised for thousands of years and have built
up a wealth of descriptive information concerning the art which has both chronicled and advanced its evolution. At some juncture, however, continued progress demands a transition from description to analysis, such as that
initiated by Harvey’s discovery of the circulation of the blood. If marketing is to develop it, too, must make the transition from art to applied science and develop sound theoretical foundations, mastery of which should become an
essential qualification for practice.
Adoption of this proposition is as threatening to many of today’s marketers as the establishment of the British Medical Association was to the surgeon-barber. But, today, you would not dream of going to a barber for medical advice. Of course, first aid will still be practised, books on healthy living will feature on the bestsellers list and harmless potions will be bought over the counter in drug stores and pharmacies. This is an amateur activity akin to much of what
passes for marketing in British industry. While there was no threat of the cancer of competition it might have sufficed, but once the Japanese, Germans and others invade your markets you are going to need much stronger medicine if you
are to survive. To do so you must have the courage to face up to the reality that aggressive competition can prove fatal, quickly; have the necessary determination to resist rather than succumb, and seek the best possible professional
advice and treatment to assist you.
Unfortunately, many people are unwilling to face up to reality. Even more unfortunate, many of the best minds and abilities are concentrated on activities which support the essential functions of an economy, by which we all survive, but have come to believe that these can exist by themselves independent of the manufacturing heart. Bankers, financiers, politicians and civil servants all fall into this category. As John Harvey-Jones pointed out so eloquently in the 1986 David Dimbleby lecture, much of our wealth is created by manufacturing industry and much of the output of service industries is dependent upon manufactured products for its continued existence. To assume service industries can replace manufacturing as the heart and engine of economic growth is naive, to say the least.
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