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Do members of your company's executive team—along with your peers throughout the organization—see the connection between marketing and the cash flowing into your company's coffers? If not, they probably view you as merely a tactical tool (brochure writer, a trade-show participant, Web-site "put-it-upper"), not a true strategic partner. And they likely underutilize marketing.

To deliver maximum value for your firm, you'll need to correct their misperceptions of marketing's value. How? Avoid the 10 biggest mistakes marketers make.

Adapted from book I wrote with Allen Weiss and Dave Stewart, Marketing Champions: Practical Strategies to Increase the Power, Influence, and Business Impact of Marketing (Wiley, 2006), this article is the first in a 10-part series designed to help you demonstrate the link between marketing and hard, cold cash.

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Harry sank exhausted into his chair beside SignalNet's trade-show booth. It had been a long week, and he was dreading the stacks of work he knew would be waiting for him in the marketing department when he returned to the office. But the sight of the glass bowl jammed with business cards from trade-show attendees instantly revitalized him. A sign on the bowl read, "Win a SignalNet 1200XS—drop your business card here." Not a bad haul, he thought to himself. The sales team is going to love this batch of leads.

As the events crew began packing up the booth, Harry poured the bowl's contents into his carry-on suitcase. Back at MegaMesh the next morning, he proudly handed the stash of cards to Martha, the sales manager.

He had no idea that he had just made a major mistake.

Promising Prospect—or Dead End? How Do You Define "Lead"?

To do their job, salespeople need leads, or prospects, who are ready to buy. As a marketer, you probably supply sales with leads. But what is a lead, exactly?

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image of Roy Young
Roy Young is coauthor of Marketing Champions: Practical Strategies for Improving Marketing's Power, Influence and Business Impact. For more information about the book, go to or order at Amazon.