The Marketing Strategist:

What is Marketing’s New Value Proposition?

December 20, 2012

  • Commentary
Nearly 150 marketers and business professionals tried to answer that question when they met in Cambridge, MA, on December 4 and 5, for ITSMA’s 19th Annual Marketing Conference. Although the conference was postponed due to Hurricane Sandy, we were thrilled at the attendance. Nearly all of our original speakers were on the final agenda, and 85% of those who originally planned to attend the event in October were able to make it in December, along with some new attendees. At the beginning of the conference, I challenged attendees to think about marketing’s new value proposition and how both individual marketers and marketing teams need to change the perception of marketing through better internal communication. I asked a few leading questions and offered some research and insights: Why does marketing need a new value proposition? As marketers, we know that marketing is contributing to the business. But according to a recent study by Capsicum Group, “senior executives at B2B services companies see the marketing function as being out of step with the rest of the business, lacking accountability for delivering the business results.” This isn’t the first time marketing has gotten this criticism. Clearly, marketing is not communicating its value to senior executives. From our view, companies need marketing now more than ever as they seek to grow in a difficult economy. Marketing must do more to convey how it contributes to growth and profitability. That starts with understanding the business leaders’ goals and implementing the right set of marketing activities to help them meet those objectives. At the same time, marketing needs to continuously monitor and communicate, in business terms, how and where marketing is helping to achieve business outcomes. Bottom line, marketers need to change the way they talk about marketing. What should marketing’s new value proposition be? At ITSMA, we think that marketers have to play three distinct roles. Depending upon your company’s particular business strategy, one of these roles will take precedence as you craft your new value proposition. The three roles are as follows:
  • The Business Driver creates value for customers and ultimately for the business. The strategic business driver instills an outside-in orientation, looks forward and assesses the market and opportunities, and provides insights on customer wants and needs. The strategic business driver also collaborates with the line of business/P&L owners to shape new offerings and innovations, and determines the right marketing programs and campaigns to drive business in targeted areas.
  • The Relationship Builder builds relations with customers and with sales. The relationship builder nurtures relationships with customers and prospects two ways:
    1. Aligning with sales to not just fill the pipeline, but also to build and nurture relationships throughout the end-to-end process.
    2. Developing relationships directly with customers through on- and offline community marketing, customer engagement, and advocacy programs.
  • The Effective Executor improves the efficiency and effectiveness of marketing. This means doing more with less, building a dynamic and flexible global workforce, making data-driven marketing decisions, calculating ROI, and using data and predictive analytics to improve marketing’s business impact.
How will marketing deliver on its new value proposition? To put this new value proposition into action, marketing will have to develop new skills and overcome a few barriers. First, they will have to change the internal perception of marketing. They’ll do this by developing business acumen, showing that they speak the language of business, and using metrics—business metrics, though, not marketing metrics. Second, marketers will have to balance the strategic with the tactical. In essence, they’ll have to drop the reactive, fire-fighting activities and make sure what they’re doing is aligned with the company’s strategy and the sales organization’s goals. This is hard, because events are visible but strategy isn’t. The way to overcome this is to shed a light on the strategic things you’re doing: share your market data, segmentation analysis, and order data. Make sure you’re communicating what you’re measuring. Third, marketers need to develop new skills in analytics, social media, business, and more. They have to ask themselves, “What skills and expertise do I need to build, in both my personal skill set and in my company?” Marketing needs to train and develop these skills and also partner with agencies to stay agile enough to handle the rapid pace of change in technology and business. What will the result of marketing’s new value proposition be? If every marketer follows this advice, what will the New Marketing look like? Ideally we’ll see marketing as the function that brings customer, business, and market knowledge to the table. The marketing programs and activities they develop and execute will be aligned with very specific objectives that drive business outcomes and measurable results. They’ll work closely with sales, finance, and technology, and will be perceived as efficient and effective. Marketing will be trusted to ask the right questions and get the job done. Marketing’s new value proposition is to be a highly respected organization that is recognized for its contribution to achieving business goals. If you weren’t able to attend the conference, or if you attended and were so overloaded with information that you haven’t retained it all, don’t worry. The dialogue won’t stop just because the event is over; rather it’s just begun. We plan to synthesize most of the other terrific points our speakers made and will make that information available to you over the next few months. For now, take a look at the immediate reactions to the presentations via our twitter transcript. Read ITSMA Online Survey: Marketing Transformation: Are we there yet? and Seven Steps to Create a Stronger Growth Engine in Marketing.

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