As companies continue to realign their focus in an effort to becoming more customer-centric, one cannot help but remain befuddled as to why more CMOs are not making that crucial step of joining CEOs, CFOs and the like, in their companies’ boardrooms.
Very early during my 6-year tenure at a multinational organisation, I vividly remember accompanying my marketing manager to a senior management meeting and having to face questions from the finance department, regarding the “significance of the marketing function” on overall business results.
Granted, while I understood the need to justify the marketing department’s annual budget allocation, saying that I was flabbergasted that someone should even question the paramount importance of marketing to an organisation, is an understatement.
Interestingly, less than 2 years on from that experience, the said marketing manager was promoted to the position of senior marketing manager for the Caribbean region, thereby reiterating the crucial role of marketing to the organisation’s viability.
As companies seek to maintain relevance and ‘Top of Heart’ in fiercely competitive global markets, the following 5 points speak to the growing significance of marketing’s presence at the boardroom table -:
1) Delivering On Big Data
Companies are more data-driven than ever and as a result, CMOs are usually the ‘point-persons’ required to present fellow decision-makers, with key insights of potential competitive advantages from data generation.
The identification of new target segments and the augmentation of existing service offerings are just two potential benefits of this.
2) Marketers know how to perfect the ‘Inbound vs Outbound’ mix
Much debate has occurred at senior management level regarding the right marketing tactics a company should employ, namely, deciding upon the perfect combination of Inbound Marketing versus Outbound Marketing.
Simply put, traditional marketers’ efforts have focused on finding customers via mediums such as cold calling, outsourced telemarketing, email blasts and other expensive ‘outbound’ techniques, which have proven to be not as effective as they once were.
Notably, Inbound Marketing focuses on attracting the attention of prospects via content creation, before they are even ready to buy and has distinct advantages over the traditional ‘outbound’ option, which include being significantly cheaper to execute and as much as 10 times more effective, in generating sales, customer loyalty and website traffic ….stats which will surely lead to some raised eyebrows on the finance team.
3) Customers demand Value
While value can be defined as the difference between a customer’s cost-benefit evaluation of one product compared to another, the factors which lead to a perception of value vary extensively amongst consumers. Marketers however have long been regarded as ‘key engineers’ in the design of value-based offerings and they should therefore lead the way with regard to identifying ‘Unique Selling Points’ as well as value-added components of the product or service.
4) CMOs are proponents of Internal Marketing
Effective internal marketing has always been proven to have a significant positive impact on organisational success and it should therefore be considered as imperative, that Board members prioritise the implementation of detailed internal marketing programmes.
Internal campaigns and competitions, service quality training and reward and recognition activities all go a long way in boosting employee engagement and generating staff advocacy for a company’s products and by extension its brand. After all, it’s no secret, “Happy Employees equal Happy Customers”.
5) Marketers always focus on the big picture
CMOs invariably understand that only through an integrated organisational approach can sustainable growth and Customer Lifetime Value be achieved.
I recall being a part of a New Product Development Team, which even though was led by the Regional Marketing Manager, included personnel from the IT, Operations and Finance Departments. The clear communication of goals from the offset of the activity, while at the same affording each team member the autonomy to utililise their core competencies to achieve key project milestones, resulted in the project’s resounding success.
This type of integration, vision, direction and camaraderie needs to be generated within the board room and cascaded down throughout the entire organisation; further justifying the argument for marketing’s involvement at board level.
Change is truly the only constant in our dynamic marketing global landscape and those organisations that adopt and implement a proactive approach to identifying and anticipating customer requirements while simultaneously exceeding expectations, will likely enjoy the reality of long-term corporate prosperity…….and I know just the person to lead the way.