Everyone in an organization is (hopefully) aware that marketing is essential to a company’s success. However, when asked to define what the marketing team does and how it impacts business, answers tend to come up short.
Responses such as “social media, graphic design, advertising, emails and brochures,” are going to be most common – but chances are, if someone isn’t on the marketing team or doesn’t deal directly with the department, there’s probably some mystery to what’s being done there.
What Do Other Departments Think Marketing Does?
In fact, a recent survey revealed that only 13% of non-marketing employees think marketing drives business strategy, with 53% saying marketers are responsible for advertising and promotion and 43% saying its brand management. Marketing was noted as the least important department within the organization. As marketers, we know this simply isn’t true.
While all departments have their individual functions, without marketing, a company would be an anonymous entity operating with a limited customer base. The purpose of marketing is to bring in more customers, encourage and cultivate growth and discover how to better serve customers.
To do that effectively, marketers must make the rest of the organization aware of their jobs, their importance and their function in conjunction with each separate department.
Marketers have undoubtedly mastered their field and are constantly evolving it to be more insightful and efficient. Now it’s time to put the same amount of energy into informing the company about what marketing does well - and how they can collaborate as a team to increase the role the department plays in driving strategic change.
Data Analysis and Insight
One of the most crucial shifts in marketing has been the advent of data analysis to gain customer insight. It is also one of the lesser-known activities of marketers - with only 18% of non-marketers identifying it as a marketing function.
Within a business, 48% of data analytics are used to gain a better understanding of the customer. Much of that usage falls to the marketing department, who then becomes responsible for collecting and mining the data for better insights into how customers are responding to the company’s offering and what they are looking for from the industry.
Non-marketers are aware that customer insight is critical to achieving competitive advantage, but what they don’t realize is that the marketing department is the one that puts it in action.
For 58% of CMOs, analytics are important for SEO and email marketing research. Another vital area that benefits from data is customer segmentation, with 49% of CMOs citing this as a key marketing function. Knowing which customers are relevant to which areas of the business can make a huge difference in reaching them effectively.
If a company wants to know what their customers are feeling, thinking and saying about their products and services, marketing analytics serve as the direct line between an organization and its customers. Marketers need to bring this to the forefront of their responsibilities to prove to the company that the department is invaluable to overarching success.
Marketing the Marketing Department
To say it’s only the fault of the non-marketers for not knowing why marketing is essential is a false sentiment. It is a shared failure between marketers and their colleagues alike.
Just as a company shares customer-facing mistakes, they should also own up to their internal ones. Members of the company are only familiar with website copy, email marketing and social media because these are the most visible aspect of marketing.
Likewise, marketing is probably only familiar with R&D’s end product because it’s what they interact with most. With this logic in mind, marketing must do more to share their ways of working, their successes and their failures with the rest of the company. That takes increased dedication to internal communications.
It’s acceptable to be narrowly focused on customer-facing material, but it shouldn’t be the sole focus of marketing. Outlets like intranets, forums and internal newsletters help spread the word about all on goings of an organization. Even better than those options, marketers should be participating in presentations or discussions.
To improve internal communication, marketing needs to start small, think creatively and lead the organization with innovation and approachable subject matter. Instead of presenting those important analytics in detail, simply give the bullet points and summarize the resulting benefits.
Once you’ve gained the attention of the company, you can tailor the communications to their interests and avoid useless weekly reports by taking a step back and looking at the big picture scale.
Driving Strategic Change
Once you’ve acquired the attention of the other departments and have effectively communicated the results created by the marketing team, you can drive strategic change.
Strategy is very much a collaborative process that takes into account all the diverse aspects of a company’s performance and needs.
Marketing is positioned to have the most influential effect on the strategy. Armed with insight about customers gained from data analysis and a general understanding of the other departments, marketing can inform the strategy to be grounded by analytics, customer demands and operational efficiencies.
Marketing holds the cards for both analytical insight and creative power. Approaching strategy with these two ways of thinking can lead an organization to more innovative and effective solutions for serving customers and increasing the bottom line.
It’s also a strong way to make decisions and help other departments develop their own strategic plans. But to leverage that power, marketing must establish themselves as a go-to entity and a critical piece of organizational change.
Marketers excel at making the unknown not only known, but also popular. They must start thinking of themselves as a product that needs launching across the company.
Using the foundation of data and insight, strengthening internal communications and playing an active role in developing company strategy, marketers can deliver lasting results and become the most well known group within the company.
Customer service, sales, finance and R&D will no longer wonder what’s behind the graphics and catchy copy. They’ll understand that marketing is in the game to help the company achieve its fullest potential.
Originally published Dec 7, 2016 8:30:00 AM, updated July 28 2017