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The role of marketing

by: Steve Lowe on

This article aims to explain the role of marketing within the organisational context, and to show how the discipline can be used reliably to drive business success.

The core role of marketing is to encourage an single-minded focus on the consumer throughout all business activity.

For a charity, this could be a focus on major donors, for a car business this could be existing or potential buyers, for a magazine this would be the readers.

Researching, understanding and knowing the consumer's needs is critical to remain competitive in today's economic climate. Those without this focus are particularly exposed during recessions or economic difficulty, and as a result many are starting to fair badly. Case study examples include Blockbuster Video and HMV - both of which clung on to an old business model and were slow to cater for the habits of the modern movie or music lover.

Some may say this topic should be restricted to be marketing or sales departments, but the most successful businesses have a marketing led approach throughout the entire organisation. It's the marketing department's role to ensure this happens, and continues long into the future.

Common mistakes are to confuse the marketing department for the advertising or promotional wing of the company, but this is only one element of the remit. Management of the marketing mix can be a cross-discipline activity, and it's unlikely that the marketing team will have full responsibility for the product or service produced, the price or the place it is solde, however it is the role of the marketing team to ensure the mix is applied in a way which is customer centric.

A marketing led company will work to a marketing plan which is developed and refined along side the business plan. The role of marketing is to stimulate good business decisions using a proven framework. When correctly applied, a marketing plan will prevent poor decisions, including the classic inventor's dilemma - starting with the product then desperately trying to work out how to sell it.


What the Tories are promising the design industry

by: Steve Lowe on


The manifesto pledges

  • The Conservative Party Manifesto hailed the UK’s creative industries as Britain’s fastest-growing economic sector, contributing nearly £77 billion a year.
  • The Conservatives say they will continue to support the creative sector through tax reliefs such as tax credits for children’s television and will aim to protect intellectual property and tackle piracy.
  • The party says it plans to invest more than £100 billion in infrastructure over the next parliament – with £790m million going to extending superfast broadband to rural areas.
  • With regards to business, the Conservatives promise “the most competitive business tax regime in the G20” and point to their moves to cut corporation tax from 28 to 20 per cent and extend by 100 per cent the Small Business Tax Rate Relief. The party says it will conduct a “major review” of business rates by the end of the year to ensure that “by 2017 they properly reflect the structure of our modern economy”.
  • For small businesses, the Conservatives say they will treble the Start Up Loans programme and aim for small businesses to receive one-third of central Government procurement contracts.
  • The party also pledges to bring in a Small Business Conciliation Service, to mediate in disputes such as late payment.

The statement

Ed Vaizey, Minister for Culture and the Digital Economy under the last administration, told Design Week:

“Design is one of our most accessible creative industries. It impacts on our daily lives in so many ways  – from the transport we take, to the cutlery we use to the clothes we wear. The UK is a world leader in design. The Monocle Survey on soft power, which is about a nation’s power in terms of creative things and innovation, put Britain at number one.

Latest figures show the design sector has been one of the highest performing under [the previous] Conservative-led government. In 2013, 177,000 people in the creative economy were employed in design and designer fashion, up by almost a fifth from 2011. Even more impressively, this group had the largest percentage increase in employment in the creative industries in the same period.

It gets better.

The Gross Value Added (GVA) for the design sector was around £3.1bn in 2013, and observed the largest GVA increase (+28%) of all creative industry sectors from 2012-2013.

Government takes design seriously. In 2013 our single domain GOV.UK won the coveted Design Museum Design of the Year Award. The team behind this, the Government Digital Service, is estimated to make savings of £1.7bn a year by making all Government services digital by default. Building on this success, we’re increasing digital capability across government and hiring designers in many other departments, something a future Conservative government would seek to build upon.

On skills, we have announced £20m to match industry investment for creative industry skills, which will assist in the development of the designers of the future. The funding will come through the Employer Ownership of Skills pilot following a successful bid by creative industry employers led by Channel 4 and skills organisation Creative Skillset.

Our commitment to the design sector is clear. While these figures paint an encouraging picture, we cannot be complacent. We can only continue to have a robust design sector with a strong economy and a long-term economic plan – something only the Conservatives can offer.”

The Chancellor’s views

Talking to Design Week last year, former Chancellor George Osborne told us: “[Design is] a very diverse sector with diverse issues – there isn’t a single instrument you can use to tackle them.

“We’ve been able to support design and the creative industries through various mechanisms such as tax credits and initiatives such as with the Design Museum [which will be able to open its permanent collection to the public for free]. We also want to make sure that design is a part of the learning environment – we want to recognise that Britain has a particular talent for design.”

What Labour would have done

The Labour party had made a concerted effort to court the creative industries vote, with former Labour leader Ed Miliband promising to put art and creativity “at the heart” of a future Labour government.

Among the pledges Labour made were:

  • To establish a committee for art, culture and creativity that would report directly to the Prime Minister. This would comprise practitioners and decision-makers from across the country.
  • An overhaul of the creative education system to make creative subjects central to school rankings. Miliband said: “Under a Labour Government we will build the need for creative education into Ofsted inspections.”
  • The Labour manifesto described creativity as “the powerhouse of a prosperous economy” and featured pledges to increase the number of apprenticeships in the creative industries and to “guarantee a universal entitlement to a creative education” for children.