How to Become a More Effective Marketing Leader

Marketing simply cannot function effectively without alliances. The strength of your internal relationships can determine the success of your marketing objective.

One of the biggest challenges marketing leaders face is navigating internal politics and applying the appropriate level of influence to achieve the bank’s strategic objectives. The people you surround yourself with and how you build alliances could bolster the credibility of marketing and ultimately your career.

Why Should Marketing Build Alliances?

Today’s marketing leaders must be jack-of-all trades and learn to get to know people outside their normal circle. Colleagues across different disciplines and diverse backgrounds will help marketers broaden their perspective. Marketing simply cannot function effectively without alliances. No matter how important or critical a marketing project is to the bank, marketers are unlikely to accomplish it without help from someone outside of the department. The strength of your internal relationships can determine the success of your marketing objective.

Which Alliances Are Critical to Marketing Success?

At the basic level, we all build strong alliances with our sales teams. After all, sales can make or break the success of any campaign, product launch or ongoing sales initiative. Beyond sales, tapping into management, supervisors or other influential leaders in the following departments can go a long way:

  • Executive Team – Communicate with the team in their language. Understanding and using financial terms and metrics to explain what you do in marketing is crucial to establishing credibility and justifying your contribution.
  • Finance – Finance must be involved in the numbers or else your figures will constantly be questioned. Calculating product profitability, even at a basic level, is essential to applying customer and lifetime profitability and allocating your limited marketing resources.
  • Training – Building a connection with training ensures marketing projects are given appropriate priority in light of the increasing demands today of compliance and operational training.
  • IT – Marketing and IT are increasingly more tethered. Creating a bond with this department can ensure marketing has a voice in technology decisions that affect the customer experience.
  • Compliance – Regulations and their interpretations are often subjective. A good relationship with your compliance officer is crucial to navigating regulatory waters and avoiding unnecessary obstacles along the way.
  • Operations – The back office can be a huge resource for system knowledge, customer-data cleaning, product implementation, record flagging or survey and call program execution.
  • Tellers – Using tellers for focus groups, brand ambassadors or marketing committees can go a long way in engaging employees and delivering important messages from the top to the ranks.

How to Start Building Alliances

The alliance process involves give and take. Don’t wait until you’re in a crisis, and you actually need something. Start by making yourself a resource to others, and these same individuals will be a resource for you when you need them. Here are a few tips to consider:

Be a resource. Be a reliable news source for industry or competitor information

  • Use your expertise. Offer feedback, share experiences, consult, share a hot idea.
  • Be a role model. Offer to mentor or allow another department to job shadow.
  • Have integrity. Don’t demand credit; don’t wait for recognition.
  • Be a promoter. Connect people who can help each other; share other’s ideas, giving them credit; pursue opportunities to make others’ jobs easier.

Ultimately, whom you choose to have in your corner and how you nurture those alliances can make you a better leader.


Laura Pomerene, CFMP, is vice president and marketing director with First National Bank and Trust in Beloit Wisconsin. Laura is currently faculty and incoming chair for the ABA School of Bank Marketing and Management. If you’d like to send Laura an email, click here. The ABA School of Bank Marketing & Management is considered the industry standard for bank marketing education. It is the only national school of its kind, where students learn from a faculty of industry experts and practitioners. For information about attending the school, click here.

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