First the bad news: Only 18% of CEOs are “very satisfied” with their marketing organizations. Yep, that’s saying 4 out of 5 CEOs lack confidence in their companies’ marketing people.
Now the good news: Marketing can play a critical role in creating and harvesting a company’s cash flow – something every CEO wants.
So why the disconnect? “A fundamental lack of communication between marketing and corporate leadership,” say authors Roy A. Young, Allen M. Weiss, and David W. Stewart, in their book “Marketing Champions: Practical Strategies for Improving Marketing’s Power, Influence, and Business Impact.”
The book is an excellent text for marketers who desire to be – and to be considered — an influential, powerful, and critical part of their companies. So many of the book’s concepts are a brilliant combination of profound and practical, I just had to share some of the key points.
The central premise of “Marketing Champions” is that marketers are due more respect and influence than most currently get. “In many organizations, marketing is underutilized. We find marketing practitioners frustrated at not being able to make the essential contributions to their company’s success that they’re capable of – and that they’re ideally positioned to provide,” the authors posit.
So the book begins by outlining the myths about marketing which detract from company leaders’ understanding of how important marketing is to the organization – such as:
- “Marketing can’t develop well-informed action plans and programs because it can’t measure the results of those plans and programs in objective business terms.”
- “Marketing is all about advertising; therefore it’s important only for companies with large and discretionary advertising budgets.”
It then outlines a powerful tool for dispelling these myths: language. The authors contrast the words marketers usually use: segments, strategy, performance, image, positioning, brand equity, etc., with that of the rest of the executive committee, namely: assets, return on assets, velocity, leverage, shareholder value, etc. “The more you can master and speak the language of business – including translating marketing terminology into commonly used business vocabulary – the more influence you’ll have…[and] The more actual, measurable value you’ll deliver for your company.”
Importantly, this book doesn’t suggest that simply by using the right words, you become a marketing champion. On the contrary, it helps marketers understand the true business impact of what they’re doing – or what they should be doing – and how to communicate that impact effectively.
For example, what marketers call “brand extensions” are actually “returns on assets,” since they increase the value derived from an existing asset (the brand.) Other returns on assets include efforts which increase cross-selling and up-selling – these important marketing activities enable companies to generate more value from its investments in acquiring customers.
The rest of the book is devoted to improving a marketer’s management of their internal constituencies. Based on the notion of a marketing compass, the authors suggest that internal constituencies are four points/directions:
- managing north is about helping the CEO and CFO formulate and execute the company’s competitive strategy
- managing east is about busting silos and building bridges to sales for short-term results and R&D for long-term cash flow
- managing west is about identifying and seizing opportunities on the business frontier
- managing south is about building a “brand” for marketing that delivers unique, relevant, and sustainable value to the company
For each compass point, the book covers what is important to that constituency, how marketing can support and further its efforts, and how to demonstrate marketing’s value to it. For example, the chapter, “Forge a Friendship with Your CFO,” shows what marketing’s role is in different business models and how to align your marketing activities behind the company’s cash-generation strategies.
The “installed base” business model is designed to maximize sales of base product at tight margins and sell consumable related products at high margins – think Gillette razors or HP printers. Marketing’s role, therefore, is to build sales of the base product with an attractive quality or price to acquire users of compatible related products. And key marketing activities like identifying the most receptive target segments and/or promoting product trial align with this strategy.
The book ends with a marketing leadership SWOT analysis – an inventory of sorts the reader can take to identify the changes that they need to take on a personal level to be an effective leader.
In this short post I can’t do justice to all the wisdom and practical advice contained in the book, so I strongly recommend you check out a copy. I think you’ll find the inspiration and instruction necessary to become a Marketing Champion.
As the authors explain, “Marketing Champions anticipate changes in the business climate in which their companies operate. They develop strategies for helping their organizations seize advantage of those changes, and they actively execute those strategies by winning the collaboration and cooperation of their bosses, peers, and employees…As a result, their organizations value their contribution and view them as essential leaders…”
(Full disclosure: I have an Amazon Affiliate account, which means if you click on the above links and buy the book from Amazon, I get a commission – but trust me, I’m not planning on getting rich off the 4% per book rate, so accept this post only as what it is intended: a sincere effort to share good stuff with you.)