Winning article focuses on new “marketing doctrine” trend
Lexington, Ky. – Brian R. Murtha, assistant professor of marketing and E. Vernon and William Smith Faculty Fellow at the University of Kentucky’s Gatton College of Business and Economics, was awarded the prestigious American Marketing Association’s Journal of Marketing’s 2015 Harold H. Maynard Award.
This award honors “the article that makes the most significant contribution to marketing theory and thought within the calendar year.”
Murtha’s paper, “Marketing Doctrine: A Principles-Based Approach to Guiding Marketing Decision Making in Firms,” co-authored with Goutam Challagalla from Georgia Institute of Technology and Bernard Jaworski of Claremont Graduate University, was published in the July 2014 issue of the Journal of Marketing. It examines a relatively new marketing concept, “marketing doctrine,” that leading business firms are beginning to adopt.
The paper demonstrates that leading edge firms such as Apple, Amgen, Cisco, and others, are developing marketing doctrine because its simple, experience-based “principles” provide consistent guidance to marketers across the firm. As firms grow and diversify, they begin to hire and/or acquire marketers with very different marketing training, experiences, and means for making marketing decisions. Consequently, firms are increasingly dealing with a “marketing inconsistency” problem.
Murtha and his co-authors show that marketing doctrine can help address this problem. “Marketing doctrine refers to a firm’s unique principles, distilled from its experiences, that provide firm-wide guidance on market-facing choices,” they write. By identifying these principles, the firm provides strategic marketing guidance to all its decision-makers, but allows them the flexibility to execute responsive solutions.
While not yet widespread, this “principle-based” approach has begun to emerge among leading marketing firms. Apple’s doctrine relies on seven principles focused on marketing issues, including “Focus on few products and models” and “Read things that are not yet on the page (i.e. discover unmet or unrecognized needs) and don’t be a slave to focus groups.” The company has been extremely successful in the marketplace, and numerous firms try to follow their model.
But as Murtha and his co-authors discovered, the key difference between marketing doctrine and other forms of organization, according to most of the executives they interviewed, is “the importance of developing firm-specific principles that uniquely reflect a firm’s strategy and context, rather than…simply emulating other firms or theory.” Murtha’s paper not only identifies and defines the “marketing doctrine” concept, it also demonstrates ways firms can develop their own doctrine, and presents a conceptual model of how these doctrines can be used in the business world.