Manifestos became all the rage in marketing circles about fifteen years ago, I think. Suddenly it wasn't sufficient to have a plan or a strategy for your brand - a manifesto was needed. A manifesto has all the associations of action, of getting things done, of motivating, of not over-theorising and getting caught up in intellectual knots.
John Grant's excellent book, 'The New Marketing Manifesto' was launched in 1999. It caught a lot of the new spirit of marketing and is still valid today.
The Marketing Society in the UK have recently launched another (new) Marketing Manifesto which sets out how marketing generally can continue to contribute powerfully to society over the next decade.
I've had a look at it, and it makes a lot of sense, although I feel it could be bolder and more revolutionary still.
The new Manifesto defines the purpose of marketing: "To create sustainable growth by understanding, anticipating and satisfying customer needs."
I like the move away from (just) profit. But I wonder - is the term "sustainable growth" a bit of a weasel? It implies a lot, but what does it really mean? And - is growth assumed to be measured in terms of sales value? Or some other kind of growth?
I'm happy to see that the word "consumer" doesn't feature. But is "customer" so much better? And "needs"? Are dreams and desires part of that?
The Manifesto sets out three challenges:
Pursue your Purpose
- define your organisation's purpose
- make sustainable growth your central aim
- leave a positive legacy
- anticipate customer needs
- shape the customer experience
- find creative ways to engage
Mobilise the Organisation
- collaborate with your peers
- bring the voice of the customer into the boardroom
- quantify the cost and value of your work
It's good, as far as it goes, but I do wonder if it's a bit "business as usual."
Maybe the problem is that Manifestos themselves have become a little old hat. They've lost their power.
Is the challenge now to find a new metaphor?