Why Can’t the Public Sector deliver efficient services? Part 2

In the last blog I promised to discuss some of the things I believe we need to do to improve the public sector’s approach to services including how the public sector can adopt a marketing approach. These  recommendations are based on the research we did on marketing in the public and non profit sector. For more information go to :http://www.publicsectormarketing.ca/rs/rs_report_stateofmarketing_e.html

1. There is a strong need to educate senior managers in government about the value and applicability of strategic marketing management principles. This requires recognition across all levels of government of the value of strategic marketing management, both in terms of the potential impact on the effectiveness and efficiency of programs, services and outreach campaigns, as well as the benefit to citizens.

2. As a result of the continuing debate of the appropriateness of public sector marketing, it comes as little surprise that marketing does not occupy the same sort of institutionalized position as it does in business. For example, there are relatively few positions with the word marketing in the job title in government. Moreover, our research revealed no clear marketing function or classification/ job category as part of the way many government groups are organized. In the private sector, marketing is a clear career path with positions ranging from entry level to senior vice-presidential levels. In the public sector, individuals are not typically hired because they have strong marketing skills, and there is no established marketing career path. Therefore, governments at all levels need to look at both classification and standards for hiring marketing people. Without this high-level leadership, it is unlikely that marketing programs will be successful in the long term.

3. Our research clearly indicates that most people who are performing marketing functions do not have formal training in marketing. While marketing professionals noted that there is encouragement to attend courses, seminars and conferences to develop marketing expertise, they indicated that the organizational culture does not tend to support training in marketing principles and management. Whether due to culture or perceptions of opportunity within these organizations, evidence also suggests that they have difficulty attracting and retaining qualified marketing staff.

This suggests a clear need for marketing training in government, such as the training tools and resources offered by The Centre of Excellence for Public Sector Marketing and the “Professional Certificate in Public Sector and Non-Profit Marketing” run by Carleton University’s Sprott School of Business as well as keeping up to date on public sector marketing issues by attending the annual MARCOM conference in Ottawa.

4. Governments fail to consider client needs when developing service and product approaches.  Governments need to examine the process by which they develop and manage products, programs and services. Marketing management systems and practices must be adopted from the planning level on down. Furthermore, measurement systems must be put in place to track success against marketing objectives and make necessary adjustments to improve performance.

5. Many who work in government identify marketing with cost recovery or revenue generation. It should be noted that there is nothing inherent in the philosophy, tools or techniques to force the role of marketing into either of these camps. It is true that marketing can assist in generating revenue within government, but it can also be a useful paradigm for improving relationships with clients and the publics with whom government departments deal.

It also has other uses. In fact, a marketing approach may be more valuable for other goals of government, such as improving relationships with groups and individuals with whom the organization interacts, and serving clients better.

As public sector organizations continue to try to meet the challenges associated with demands for better and improved service delivery as well as new services and programs with budgetary constraints, new and different models of management and their associated tools and tactics need to be considered to help government deliver more quality, speed, efficiency, convenience and fairness to its citizens. Marketing presents a comprehensive, integrated and innovative approach from which to manage government resources. The time has come for leaders in government to recognize and embrace the lexicon and practice of strategic marketing in the public sector community.

Do you have any ideas on how to improve marketing and delivering services in government. if so, let me hear from you.