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Insight/ General Management

Rethinking the Chain: Make Marketing Leaner, Faster and Better

by Dr. Robert Shaw, Cass Business School, London
Philip Kotler, Northwestern University, Chicago

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Drs. Robert Shaw and Philip Kotler, distinguished professors of marketing, published a manifesto in the July/August 2009 edition of “Marketing Management,” a publication of the American Marketing Association.Called “Re-thinking the Chain,” the two professors lay out their argument that marketing is the “least efficient process in business today.”  They propose a new framework for chief marketing officers to re-think how their marketing organization operates, and call it the “Ideas-to-Demand Chain” (I2D).  

Chief marketing officers today are under extreme pressure from both internal and external sources.  These pressures range from dealing with the exploding number of consumer communication channels, customer who want to shop 24x7, flat to reduced budgets, turnover of staff and agency resources, and the demand for more transparency into marketing spend.  Most importantly, the CMO is being asked more often to demonstrate the value of the company’s marketing investment as a perquisite to receiving new budget funds.  In today’s challenging economic environment, Shaw and Kotler believe it is imperative that a marketing organization be both lean and quick.  They view marketing as a factory, and as a demand chain, that must be aligned and optimized end-to-end, in order to achieve the department’s objectives.  Marketing must deliver creative ideas to the market that stimulate demand for products and services, but must do so profitably.

The manifesto and accompanying I2D framework came about as a result of sponsored research, and the experience of the two professors, who have also served as consultants to hundreds of companies worldwide.  The research was released in 2008 by Dr. Shaw and was entitled, “Return on Ideas.”This study of the marketing operations of over 100 regional and global companies was sponsored by three UK-based professional organizations, the Chartered Institute of Marketing, the UK Direct Marketing Association, and the Institute of Chartered Management Accountants.

About Dr. Robert Shaw, Cass Business School, London

Robert Shaw is Honorary Professor of Marketing Metrics at Cass Business School, London, consultant to many companies on marketing efficiency and effectiveness; and serves as an advisor to the Chartered Institute of Marketing and the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants. He may be reached at Philip Kotler is SC Johnson and Son Distinguished Professor of International Marketing, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University in Chicago.