Wednesday, May 31, 2017

How to Define the Role of Marketing in the Firm and the C-Suite

This post is the second in a series that will address the biggest problems that marketers face today (as identified by AMA). The purpose is to make you think . . . and hopefully help you address these problems in a new way.

There is no doubt that the role of marketing is continuing to evolve, as technology and consumer behaviors undergo dramatic changes. 

So it stands to reason that the marketing function must grow in both its function and its perception, and then be given more prominence and authority in the C-sui9te.

Unfortunately, marketing has often been ill-defined and given a narrow role in many organizations.  In some, marketing is solely focused on external advertising, brand management, and research, while in others, the term marketing is used only in their sales department.
In still other organizations, marketing’s role is as an adjunct to sales, and its function is to communicate via outside channels and provide insight on customer attitudes.  And then to merely transmit that information and insight to sales.

In order to gain influence and earn a seat at the executive table, marketers must become customer experience experts who understand and contribute to how the entire organization functions. If we continue to limit our role to one of just communication, or as an in-house agency to sales, we won’t be able to transform organizations or the way marketing operates.

As more than one author has noted, now is the time that we shift from describing the value of the products or services that our company sells to creating value through the work that we do. That is an admirable goal for marketing, but how do we begin to accomplish it?

Tomorrow’s marketers must create value for all departments within the organization by understanding how new consumer buying behaviors affect all aspects of the corporation.
Companies will not succeed long term without understanding and heeding the voice of their customers.  Tomorrow’s marketers must be able to not only listen to their customers, but provide insight on how their behavior impacts product development and improvements, business models, selling strategies, cost structures, technology needs, etc. .  

Tomorrow’s marketer must be a collaborator that understands and impacts content, channels, and data analysis.
The Chief Marketing Officer must wear many hats.  He must be the internal “voice of the consumer’ and ensure that and external communications are providing relevant content via the right channels while gathering, analyzing, and using consumer attitude and usage data to update and evolve marketing programs.

Most importantly, tomorrow’s marketers must  gain visibility and internal prestige by educating the company on the needs and wants of the customer.
One way we can do this is by identifying the most profitable customer segments, and defining how their buying behavior can be capitalized on by other departments and functions.  

Senior marketing executives must be seen as business leaders, not just marketing leaders.  
Tomorrow's marketers must demonstrate a strong profit-and-loss focus to illustrate how marketing activity fits with the overall business objectives of the corporation.  It is essential for marketing to use their consumer knowledge to become an integral part of all decision-making within the organization. 

In today’s fast-paced economy, every dollar needs to work as hard as it can, and marketing, in particular, is under tremendous pressure.  We need to not only demonstrate that we understand the need for accountability, but we must show how our actions impact the bottom line.

Accountability is the key to credibility and a seat at the executive table.  And unless marketers can demonstrate their value to the corporation beyond its current limited viewpoint, we will continue to be nothing more that another cog in the corporate wheel. 

Shouldn’t we be the driver and not just a cog?