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If marketing’s not at the table, you’re doing it wrong

The other day, someone asked me “At what point do you receive the orders from the “business” so marketing can execute on the strategy?”

A bit confused, I asked them to elaborate… Essentially they, as the person leading growth (which meant marketing in this case), received marching orders from the “business” and were told to execute them without being consulted on the initiative (as it was being conceptualized).

This was familiar territory for me and something I hear all too often from colleagues at bigger companies. The “business” (aka sales, COO, corporate strategy, channel owner) comes up with the priorities and expects marketing to execute, no questions asked. Often, in the long term, the initiatives end up having little to no impact, because marketing was no where to be found at the early discussions.

The thing is, within a lot of these bigger orgs (especially finserv) marketing is still seen as either a cost center or support channel. It’s a channel that’s viewed as supplemental vs. one of, if not the most, critical arms of the business. I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of an org now that has marketing at the table for every big initiative discussion, but more often than not, I hear companies are still operating the other way (which is crazy to me in 2019).

That said, if you’re still struggling with figuring out how to get a seat at the table, here’s why marketing should hold one of the most important seats (send it to your bosses).

They have a pulse on customer behavior

  • Whether it’s how customers/prospects interact with your content online, review your products, or engage with your email messaging, marketing has a pulse on the non-sales related customer behavior. A lot of the time, customers interact with your brand, and make an impression, before any person speaks to them. This could be a brief interaction, but an impression is formed none the less. Marketing naturally holds the key to a lot of this insight which could help shape the initiative early on.

They understand the bigger picture

  • Sales is often laser focused on a number, which is great, but marketing often has insight into the broader landscape due to the nature of their job. I’m not talking about what competitor X is doing, I’m talking about the bigger technology trends that will redefine, and likely, put companies that don’t recognize them out of business. Buying trends, up and coming players, technology that could redefine your category. This understanding can take a small kernel of and idea into something that could evolve your business.

They have access to broader data

  • Whether it’s search trends, social chatter, or press clippings, this type of data is something very few track outside of marketing. But in the world we live in, where the customer has all the power to own the relationship, this information is more important than ever. Leveraging this information to inform business decisions can add a layer of insight that would otherwise not exist.

If you’re in a marketing org where you feel you’re being more reactive than proactive, it’s time to flip the switch. Without you at the table, whatever business you’re in might miss their mark.

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