Looking from the outside, marketing often seems to be a fun and easy place to be. The cartoon Dilbert brings to the surface what many think about the field, i.e., liquor and guessing. Marketing throws great parties, creates pretty brochures and decorates for the holidays. Examples go on and on and I’ll admit it, there is a lot of funny stuff out there about marketing. Accounting pokes fun at marketing. IT departments identify marketing as the thorns in their sides.
Sadly, contributing to the mindset about marketing is a survey conducted just four years ago. It revealed that 73% of CEOs said marketers are too disconnected from the financial realities of the company. In the same survey, management said that marketers lack business credibility and the ability to generate sufficient growth (I beg your pardon…ask me about our broadband numbers). The same survey said that 91% of these leaders put the majority of their faith in the CIO and CFO. (Hey, I agree that information systems and financials make the world go around, but not without customers.)
On the opposite side of the fence (thank goodness), Peter Drucker, author, professor, management consultant, said that because the purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two—and only two—basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs (so there!). He followed by saying that “marketing” isn’t a single specialty department, it’s a philosophy that should embody the entire organization (everyone is marketing!) I read somewhere that marketing is the driving force in insuring that service and products are recognized from the customer’s point of view. I certainly agree and imagine that a crystal ball would be helpful to me in that marketing exercise. I also remember reading that marketing holds the responsibility of providing the right value to the right person, at the right time and in the right place. That’s a whole lot of things we are asked to do right! It certainly doesn’t sound like we can be disconnected.
Optimistically, if a survey was done today, CEOs would say that marketing plays an important role just like the CIO and CFO…well maybe the CIOs. Matter of fact, in a February Gartner article, Kirsten Newbold-Knipp wrote that by 2020, today’s CMOs and marketers will be the next CEOs. Up to 38% of marketers have customer experience mandates. This means we are gaining knowledge, using data, to diagnose service problems, product issues and operational challenges. We are tracking trends to assist in product innovations and monitoring the competition like a hawk.
Today, several marketing departments, including mine, are responsible for profitability, ARPU and maintaining other revenue streams. Our responsibilities include public relations, branding, sales, and the local channel. We are messaging and creating awareness in every aspect of the department. These things can’t be done without a deeper level of knowledge about the interworking of any organization. (So poke fun at us now!) It certainly doesn’t sound like we are disconnected.
So, it all comes down to comparing it with your family. We poke fun, pull pranks (I need to tell you about the IRS joke I pulled on my sister one time), and refuse to play sometimes. In the end, it takes all of us working together to succeed. Marketers aren’t asking for a free ride. I’m the middle child so I’m always working to earn my place in the family (I mean on the team). I’ve certainly been blessed to work for leaders that have supported the marketing function and helped me to be better at what I do. Through state association and NTCA marketing committee participation, I have watched our field of expertise expand and tackle fiber-to-the-home projects with creativity and success. We know we must budget, track, report, create, acquire, retain, message, participate, and share our knowledge.