New Role of Marketing

futurelab default header

by: Jennifer Rice

John Moore at OurHouse expands our blog dialogue on Engaging Employees (original posts here and here) and offers a wonderfully concise definition of marketing's role in the 21st century:

…marketing might think of its task as resolving the conflicting needs and interests of stakeholders. I suggest this because a focus on the word customer risks oversimplifying the real challenge… And as Jennifer's comments suggest, if marketing is limited to pleasing customers, without having either the power or responsibility for squaring that with everyone else at the party, then it is likely to waste resources.

A role like this would certainly redefine marketing's place in the company and (if executed successfully) enable more marketing pros to move up the ladder to C-level positions.

Along these lines, here's the process I went through in my last full-time position:
1. Learned the unmet needs of our customers through qualitative/quantitative research
2. Created a brand position that was meaningful to both customers and employees
3. Translated the brand promise for every customer-facing department within the organization. Presented "this is your customer," here's why we're making this brand promise, and here's what you can do to make it happen. (BTW, employees on the front-line were thrilled to think that they could actually make a difference in building the brand. People like to feel part of something bigger than their own job or department).
4. Worked with customer-facing departments to realize the brand promise. This included simplifying billing statements, rewriting customer service scripts, rewriting billing/collection letters, producing standardized sales presentations, etc.
5. Worked with the agency to translate the brand promise into marcom tactics & Brand ID
6. Published weekly/monthly results of ongoing, online customer survey to each department head, which indicated how well we were delivering on the brand promise and what improvements needed to be made

Unfortunately the product didn't work and the company was sold to a competitor before we could track key brand metrics (customer attraction, customer retention, sales efficiency, etc). So although I have no tangible results to share with you, this was a very effective process flow. For future reference, I'd also add what John mentions in his post: work hand-in-hand with HR to align policies and hiring practices with the brand promise, and measure employee loyalty as well as customer loyalty.

The good news is, no area of the business is exempt from marketing's influence today. It's now up to marketers to step up to the plate and make it happen. Done correctly, marketers shouldn't run into many territorial, departmental roadblocks; simply position yourself as someone who can help them do their jobs better. You're bringing valuable information about customer needs, likes and dislikes. I've found no one inclined to argue with customer data. Ditto for HR: by offering to do an employee survey, you're making yourself a valuable ally to the HR team.

If anyone has experience that's run counter to this, please post a comment. Let's work together to figure out how marketing can best evolve and expand its role within the corporation.

Original Post: