Investing Beyond The Four Walls Of Marketing

There are some common complaints I hear senior execs voice about marketing:

Marketing is too insular — they’re not out there with customer service and sales trying the better understand the customer”, and “Marketing doesn’t tell us where we should be investing to deepen our customer relationships.”

If this frustrates you, I can understand why. After all, an article on Adweek.com about CMOs’ increasingly short tenure in the job stated that “…many CMOs are not given authority over areas other than advertising and promotions.”

But I’m not shedding any tears — senior execs get to be senior execs because they influence direction and decisions that extend beyond the scope of their function or department.

That’s why Marketing needs to help define, initiate, and fund projects that are owned by other functions like sales, IT, and customer service.

[I can hear you saying “but I don’t have enough budget to do the things I’m currently expected to do.” Your CFO and CEO aren’t buying it — they don’t believe that all the money that marketing is spending is money well spent.]

Case in point: Of all the things to spend its money on, why did ScotiaBank choose to invest in movie theater naming rights? Does it have the best Web site of all the Canadian banks? Are its branch reps the best in the business at closing sales? Is the bank’s lead management process running perfectly? Has its analytics group already modeled everything there is to be modeled?

I doubt it can answer “yes” to all these questions. Are these strictly marketing’s responsibilities? Probably not. But investing in theater naming rights may be a case of marketing spending its budget because it has it, not because it was the best investment alternative. This isn’t an isolated example.

Marketing needs to get involved and help fund initiatives that:

  1. Improve sales’ ability to determine lead capacity and distribute leads to the right salesperson (so they’ll stop complaining about lead quality).
  2. Train call center reps on product features/benefits and sales techniques.
  3. Help eCommerce invest in — and publicize — online self-service functionality (to improve customer satisfaction and the retention rate).

Investing outside the four walls of marketing requires tough tradeoffs and tough decisions. But CMOs that make them will reap the rewards. The customer experience will improve, marketing’s ROI will improve, marketing’s influence within the firm will grow, and who knows — maybe the CMO’s tenure in the job will increase as well.

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