The Value of Marketing

October 26, 2012

By Ken Beaulieu

Marketers looking for a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T for their profession may need to start with themselves. A new study commissioned by Adobe found that only 35 percent of marketers surveyed consider what they do for a living valuable. That’s troubling.

Perhaps it has something to do with how the marketing profession is perceived in this country and beyond — which is not very fondly. According to the Adobe study of 1,000 consumers 18 years and older in the U.S., China, and Japan (including a mix of marketing professionals), marketing and advertising ranked below every other profession, with the exception of public relations. Bankers, lawyers, and politicians — yes, politicians — are viewed with higher regard than marketers on the respectability scale.

On the flip side, more than 90 percent of respondents agreed that marketing is “strategic to business,” and 90 percent said that marketing is “paramount” to driving sales. While that’s great, what often gets lost is the enormous contribution the marketing industry makes to the nation’s economy and employment, an argument no fact-checker can refute.

Two years ago, a study conducted by IHS Global Insight, Inc. for The Advertising Coalition, found that:

  • Advertising expenditures account for $5.8 trillion, or nearly 20 percent, of the $29.6 trillion in U.S. economic output.
  • U.S. businesses spend $279 billion on advertising annually, and every dollar invested generates nearly $20 for the U.S. economy.
  • Ad expenditures support 19.8 million jobs, roughly 15 percent of all jobs in the country.
  • For every million dollars spent on advertising, 69 American jobs are supported.

Those numbers are almost certain to be higher now given the improving economy — and the millions being spent on advertising this election season. Let’s also not forget the collective economic ripple effect of advertising in the U.S. When a retailer, for example, revs up its ad spending, it generates income from the wide array of businesses that rely on advertising — agencies, websites, cable operators, etc. And for every ad dollar spent, retailers realize an average increase of $8.77 in sales, the IHS-Global Insight report estimates.

The multiplier effect doesn’t stop there: High sales levels trigger additional economic activity throughout a company’s supply chain, its suppliers’ supply chain, and so on. This, in turn, leads to higher levels of job creation and retention.

Marketers may always be low on the totem pole in the eyes of the public, and unjustly so, but there’s no denying the profession’s economic impact. As an industry, we must continue to raise awareness of the full value of marketing beyond a company’s bottom line. And, honestly, would it hurt the winner of the 2012 presidential election to proudly state that he couldn’t have done it without advertising?


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