In my work with many marketing leaders and in interviews I conducted for my upcoming book, Making Marketing Matter: How to Win Respect for Marketing in Your Organization, I have learned that marketers are no different from other executives in their desire to make a difference.

Like anyone else, marketers want to know that they make a significant contribution to the successes of the organization. To them, making a difference means having input—a seat at the “top table” of the organization, the place where strategic decisions are made about future direction.

And while marketers may see things differently from executives in other business disciplines, it's that different perspective and knowledge that they want valued in their organizations.

Of course, respect for marketing in any organization is a function of the role that marketing is expected to play. This is often a source of frustration for marketers, because the role of marketing is determined by many factors outside their control, including top management, past history, industry, culture, and the changing business and competitive environments. In fact, in any organization, marketing may play one or more of many different roles, and each role comes with a set of expectations.

Reflective of the different roles and expectations of marketing are the many different titles that senior marketing executives hold. Unlike finance, for example, where the senior executive usually has the title of Chief Financial Officer, the title of the senior marketing executive are various: Chief Marketing Officer, VP of Marketing and Sales, VP of Market Strategy, VP of Business Development, VP of Marketing, VP of Advertising, VP of Customers or Customer Loyalty, VP of Demand Creation, and many more.

Nevertheless, while the roles and expectations of marketing vary enormously from organization to organization, and are often beyond the control of the senior marketing executive, I have learned that to win respect and influence, all marketers must build a brand for the function and staff inside the organization.

Just as marketers are experts in building and managing the products and service brands of their organization, marketers should manage marketing as a brand asset of the organization.

So what is required to manage marketing as a brand asset of the organization? I suggest we take guidance from the definition of brand as a promise of value that is…

1. Unique

2. Relevant

3. Sustainable

These three dimensions of all brands point the way for marketers to create value inside any organization. Regardless of its role and expectations, marketing will win respect when it is recognized as a contributor of value that is unique (not generated by any other area, department or function), relevant (supporting results for the organization) and sustainable (ongoing and lasting).

1. Unique Value

The unique value of marketing is its focus on customers. More than any other function, marketing leads the way for the organization to understand, attract and keep customers.

While by no means an exclusive domain, marketing is uniquely absorbed with this external focus in holistic terms. Marketing's contribution to the organization is to lead the way in customer focus by bringing the customer perspective inside the organization in ways that build customer equity, which, in turn, is no less than the primary source of equity for the entire organization.

2. Relevant Value

While the external focus of marketing is unlike most other management disciplines, this unique perspective will not be valued until marketing can demonstrate its relevancy to the organization as a generator of earnings in the short term (or revenue increases for nonprofit organizations) and top-line growth in the long term.

Nothing is more relevant to business than results in terms of revenue and profit growth.

Also, marketing enhances its relevancy when it skillfully communicates throughout the organization the positive consequences of a customer-focused strategy.

3. Sustainable Value

The unique or relevant value of marketing is ultimately of no consequence unless the value is sustainable. That is, only if marketing can repeat over a long period of time its ability to bring a customer perspective throughout the organization and generate earnings in the short term and top-line growth in the long term will the marketing brand win lasting respect.

Marketing must therefore be both a scout to watch for change emerging on the horizon and a vanguard leading the way to new opportunities.

In each of these three dimensions of the marketing brand, marketers must effectively market their work to internal “customers.” They must recognize that it is the equity that marketing builds within the organization, rather than the equity that marketing builds with customers, that often makes the difference between gaining a seat at the strategy table on the one hand and powerlessness and marginality on the other.

Next week: Part 2 of this series offers 10 lessons marketers must learn to build the marketing brand within the organization as a promise of value that is unique, relevant and sustainable.

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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.