I wrote this for the IPFW Corporate Advantage Newsletter, in preparation for my presentation at the IPFW Applied Leadership Series on March 16. Click here to learn more.
The Leader’s Role in Marketing
Whether or Not It’s in Your Job Description, Every Leader Plays a Role in the Organization’s Marketing Efforts
By Anthony Juliano, Vice President of Marketing and Social Media Strategy at Asher Agency
Today’s consumers are harder to reach, more marketing-resistant, and more demanding than ever before. They’ve become conditioned to be wary of advertising and they have an unprecedented number of choices when deciding what deserves their attention. In
this environment, getting your message in front of your audience can seem almost impossible.
How do organizations overcome these challenges? The solution begins, as it does in so many other areas of business, with strong leadership. Whatever attracts the attention of top management determines the organization’s focus. If it’s important to the
organization’s leaders, that is, it will be important to everyone else.
Many organizations take this to mean that their CMO and CEO must be in sync in leading the marketing effort. That’s true, of course, but it’s just the start. Great marketing organizations—those that cut through the clutter in an environment that’s more challenging than ever before—insist upon leadership not only from the CEO and
those in marketing, but from all of their top management. They understand that marketing penetrates every level of the organization, and that it accordingly deserves the attention of leaders in every department.
How can leaders outside of marketing influence the organization’s success in marketing? A few examples:
- By understanding that branding is everyone’s responsibility. Branding incorporates every facet of your organization’s image and marketing strategy, including its logo, advertising, website, social media presence, public relations efforts, tagline, and—most importantly—the customer experience. As a result, everyone in the organization helps shape its brand. That includes everyone who’s responsible for the way your physical location (your store, your office) looks, everyone who builds your website and, without question, everyone who has customer interaction. Great leaders understand this, understand the power of branding, and don’t abdicate their responsibility or absolve their staff from their duty when it comes to branding.
- By thinking long-term. Great brands—and great businesses—are built inch by inch, not mile by mile. Those that succeed are the ones that think long-term, insist that their marketing efforts be guided by a plan instead of whims, and that resist the urge to try every new tactic and trend that crosses their path. Great leaders support this by not imposing personal preferences on the organization’s efforts and by understanding that while there are an infinite number of possibilities when it comes to marketing, resources are decidedly finite.
- By looking at marketing as an investment, not an expense. When times are tough, marketing usually is one of the first areas to be curtailed. It’s seen as discretionary—something optional that can be turned on or off, like a faucet. Great leaders see the flaw in this thinking. They know that marketing is actually an investment: something that cannot be shut down without serious consequences. Great leaders know that when cuts must be made, marketing should be considered no more discretionary than other areas vital to keep the operation up and running.
- By holding marketing accountable. So, why do leaders outside of marketing often give it short shrift? The truth is, there’s a lot of bad marketing out there. Great leaders insist upon something better from their organization. They demand excellence. They insist that their organization market in a way that’s ethical and consistent with the customer experience. They recognize that marketing is more measurable than ever before, and they participate in conversations about what should be measured. And, when appropriate, they celebrate successes and reward results.
If you are a leader in your organization—or you hope to be someday—you have a role in marketing, whether or not the word “marketing” is in your job description. How are you
responding? What are you doing to ensure that your organization is equal to the challenges inherent in reaching today’s consumer?