Q1 2012 Trends in Marketing Management
I spent the entire first quarter meeting with various MarComm executives to understand how their plans for 2012 had evolved since their September planning sessions. The bottom line that I took away is that marketing is getting serious again.
Prior to this past quarter, I would have argued that there was still a fair amount of fluff in marketing conversations across the board. It wasn’t uncommon that go-to-market strategies were based on hypothetical scenarios and not clearly linked to business cases. Not anymore. Here are a few anecdotal trends that I noticed.
1. The line has returned to having a role in marketing strategy.
General managers, product owners and line executives have reestablished hands-on leadership roles in MarComm planning and execution. This is great! While the marketers they hire were traditionally responsible for reporting their progress, line executives are once again actively ensuring that marketing plans bolster corporate strategy and are linked to tangible business outcomes. Line executives are responsible for turning good businesses into great ones, and they now refuse to view marketing as a delegated task.
2. Soft metrics have disappeared from dashboards faster than ever before.
Marketing strategy is once again starting with balance sheet objectives. This is also great! It is getting to the point that perhaps the intern in the mail room will soon ask what the Return on Marketing Expense will be. Companies and trade associations have done a great job coming out of the recession to create corporate cultures where everyone understands that they are responsible for growing the enterprise. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the metrics that marketers are now tracking. Future brand perception is still important, but short-term growth in market share has reclaimed the throne.
3. New hires are coming from operations.
Similar to how line executives are actively participating in marketing strategy, they are now also hiring away execs with more traditional P&L experience to run the marketing department. Executives with this background understand what drives EPS, how the customer consumes product or service, and how the competition goes to market. There has been turnover of MarComm personnel with careers built on traditional communications or journalism backgrounds, and the void is being filled with execs with detailed accomplishments in change management. The credo is clear, “Get in here and get stuff done”.
4. Sales departments are still not involved.
Sales and marketing teams have struggled to find common ground for some time. This isn’t news and is an age old debate. Marketing accuses sales of not following up on leads, sales accuses marketing of passing terrible leads, and neither side ever agrees to sit at the same table. It’s a junior high dance – boys on one side, girls on the other, lots of staring, little conversing. While marketing is indeed increasing direct focus on selling more product, marketers still struggle to define what the sales process or customer interactions look like. Sales teams are just as guilty, failing to clearly communicate to marketing which differentiators are preferred by customers. In the end, marketing tools support marketing objectives rather than the sales processes, sales teams make up their own tools and messages in an effort to drive immediate business, and the corporation losses significant opportunity costs for not streamlining commercial operations. Shame, shame, shame…I know your name.
By Joe Bisagna