In some organizations, it seems that marketing is constantly seeking ways to prove its value. Showcasing your successes is good. But to hear some folks tell it, marketing is the redheaded stepchild who is always struggling for budget and resources while simultaneously striving to respond to the requirements of the market and the internal exec team.
I’d like to propose a different perspective.
In my view, marketing is the glue that holds an organization together, a cross-functional powerhouse that delivers real momentum—not just in terms of metrics and leads, but in meaningful contributions to the organization’s primary goals.
As such, marketing can’t be a team that just reacts to demands from internal or external stakeholders. In 2019, marketing needs to reclaim its sense of self—and lead the organization in moving ahead.
Marketing Leadership: What Do We Mean by Glue?
Writing in Forbes’ Annual Predictions for Marketers compilation, Einat Weiss, VP & Head of Global Marketing at NICE, says, “Long gone are the days when marketing operated as a standalone function. Today, marketing must play a role in every department.”
He’s right. Think about it: Marketing interacts with every other team in the company. Marketing literally has the capacity to bring together disparate aspects of an organization’s operations and provide a unifying, consistent direction.
Through sales alignment and collaboration, marketing helps create essential content, experiences, and pathways for buyers and influencers in the key accounts sales wants to reach, while providing tools and resources to enable sales members’ efforts and drive revenue. Marketing also provides a conduit from sales and customers to product development teams, informing product research, development, and improvements.
Marketing research provides guidance on reaching the organization’s highest-value customers and informs executives about new market and revenue opportunities. The legal, security, and compliance departments look to marketing to establish and support clear, consistent legal messaging, keep up with and communicate about safe data-handling practices, and ensure compliance with regulatory requirements such as the GDPR and changing U.S. laws.
HR, recruiters, and hiring managers look to marketing to establish the company’s brand reputation for candidates and a positive, interactive experience for applicants.
And as one of IT’s biggest customers, marketing is a continual collaborator as the team works to implement and keep up with technology needs for the website, marketing automation, personalization and account-based marketing (ABM) programs, content management, digital programs, SEO and site speed, database management, ecommerce, and reporting.
And critically, marketing is the group that continually tracks key insights into and creates effective human interactions with the most important aspect of the business—the customer.
Overcoming Limitations: Lead with Your Strengths
For some organizations, talking about leadership is one thing; making it happen is another.
It’s true that asserting leadership may not always be easy, depending on your company culture and your available resources. In addition, you may encounter resistance at first if you haven’t established models for working with other departments.
However, marketing’s interactions across groups throughout the organization gives this team a unique, high-level perspective that presents a truly great opportunity for building collaboration across teams and boundaries. Some initial advice:
Start with a conversation—Set a meeting with the departments you want to work more closely with and let them know you truly want to partner and help them succeed. Do your research in advance and come with some ideas queued up.
Build trust and confidence—Initially, establish clear action items and follow through with everything you promise. Appropriately promise and over deliver should be your mantra.
Showcase the teamwork—Be sure to give public kudos to team members whose activities contribute to the success of marketing programs and company goals.
A little self-promotion is good—Nobody wants a daily diet of “marketing is great” rhetoric. But weekly summaries of what marketing has done to support the organization including results, successes, failures, and what is being done to optimize efforts will go a long way toward building trust and proving value.
The key to organizational success is getting everyone—marketing teams, cross-functional teams, vendors, partners, and customers—pulling on the rope in the same direction. As a marketer, you likely have or can get your hands into all these groups and help them understand each other.
No matter what your role in marketing, there is something you can do to be a leader today. It will help the company. It will help marketing. And it will help your career.