It’s 2023 on the calendar, but Marketing is still struggling to move away from being perceived as the company’s media and creative production department. No matter if you are working with four or seven Ps in the marketing mix, promotion is the one that sticks in other people’s minds. Moving from being a cost center to a value creator for the business is a key challenge these days, especially with tight budgets and an emphasis on effectiveness and efficiency.
During the Leadership Summit in London, we sat down with Senior Marketers of some of the biggest brands in the UK. All of them are facing similar issues in their companies around proving marketing’s worth: short-term thinking, cost-of-living crisis and data literacy, to name just a few. Throughout the day, inspired by a fantastic content session with Margaret Jobling, CMO of NatWest, three areas transpired as the most important ones for marketing leaders to focus on in order to future-proof the marketing function internally.
Do your research: How does the company make money?
Before launching or even producing a product, any marketing team would conduct research with the current or future consumer at the center. To strengthen marketing internally and turn it into a value creator, marketing leaders must do the same. To prove that marketing drives commercial success, marketing leaders must fundamentally understand how the business makes money. As Ms. Jobling said, “marketing is there to execute the business strategy.” The key stakeholders to answer the question are the CFO and Finance team. In the end, they will be the ones evaluating and controlling the outcomes against business goals. Whatever the marketing department does, it must contribute to the overall business strategy.
Consistent strategy: How is Marketing going to support the cause?
Once the market research is done, the marketing leader creates the pathway to success. A strong marketing strategy is built on past experiences, the current situation and future scenarios. It’s not just the operational plan and content calendar. Marketers should take their time to build a strong foundation for future decision-making and follow Ms. Jobling’s recommendation to “stick with your strategy and be consistent.”
While it should remain flexible in the execution and the specific goals, once established, marketing leaders should stick to a certain strategy and be consistent in their approach. Too much change and flip-flopping around can cause irritation within the team – but more importantly, it causes irritation among customers and consumers.
Building an Effectiveness Culture across teams and departments in the whole company – just think of your friends in Finance again – helps to keep up consistency and only pivot when needed. It will also help with the last, and likely most underrated area for turning marketing into a value creator.
Emotions: Why does it even matter?
Within advertising, emotions play an important role. They can be the key differentiator during the purchasing process. So, why are we forgetting about them when it comes to advertising our successes within our own organizations?
If marketing leaders speak the language of the people they are “selling” to, they create a certain trust, understanding and credibility. Obviously, that language comes with nuances depending on the receiver. Using a common language and creating a common effectiveness currency, they will also be able to inspire the people around them even more and create confidence in their work that goes beyond pretty ads.
In the end, it’s all about communication.
Another speaker, Sharon Hegarty, SVP Marketing at BBC Studios call marketing "the heartbeat of the organization.” To be able to turn marketing from a cost to a profit center, marketing leaders must return to what they know best: marketing and communications. They must conduct internal research, build out strategies, network with existing stakeholders and those that can help them prosper in the long term, and market marketing every single day.