7 Big Problems in the Marketing Industry: #2: The Role of Marketing in the Firm and the C-Suite

by | Jan 9, 2017 | News

There is a long history of debate between how academic researchers conceptualize “marketing” and how that is reflected in the activities firms may engage in and how they organize to accomplish these activities. Thus, academic views and corporate practice concerning the role of marketing within the firm have often been out of alignment. However, as the world has become flatter, governments have increasingly shaped policy, supply chains have globalized and “customer demand” (not supply) is the limiting factor on corporate growth, it’s clear that from both perspectives the role of marketing within the firm needs to be carefully reexamined.

We need to explore what is possible, as well as what is already happening in some firms. For example, in some firms, marketing has lost power within the firm even though one of its fundamental roles is to represent the voice of the marketplace in firm discussions. In others, marketers have grown in stature and been given new responsibilities for a wider array of insight- and demand-generating activities.

Relevant questions include:

   WHAT ARE MARKETING VS. NON-MARKETING ISSUES AND TASKS?

Has the scope of marketing activities and tasks expanded or has it contracted? Recent evidence suggests that most information is no longer controlled by the marketing function, but is now controlled as an organizational asset under the responsibilities of the analytics or IT group, and that has shifted the balance of power within the organization. Is this the case, or is the evidence to the contrary?

   HOW SHOULD MARKETING TASKS BE ORGANIZED WITHIN THE FIRM?

When should organizations centralize marketing activities, and when should they decentralize them and push marketing activities into the businesses? Is there an optimum balance? And if there is, what determines what is optimal vs. non-optimal? Firms such as Cargill have “atomized” its core platforms to over 80 business units and pushed marketing to the front lines. Other organizations have increasingly centralized marketing to share cost and services. What is the right model? Does it depend on industry and customer context?

   WHAT DOES A “WORLD-CLASS” MARKETING ORGANIZATION LOOK LIKE?

Popeyes chain of chicken restaurants has recently reorganized with the most senior “marketer” the chief brand officer. In turn, the CMO, guest experience and PR areas report to the chief brand officer. Some organizations do not even have a CMO, assuming that the growth function can be done with other organization-wide resources. What is the best structure? Or does it depending on the competitive context or other factors?

   SOME CMO’S ARE BEING GIVEN RESPONSIBILITY FOR BUILDING THE ORGANIZATION’S MARKETING CAPABILITIES.

How do I build my company’s marketing capabilities? Is it more about finding and keeping the right people, or more about building a standard tool-kit? In either case, should I build or buy? If I decide to build what is the right “roadmap for change?” Do I invest in training? If yes, what is the right form and design of these initiatives?

   HOW DO I ATTRACT THE BEST MARKETING TALENT?

What does it take to keep the best marketing talent? How do I stop people getting “stale in the saddle” but keep them engaged in the same area long enough to benefit from their experience?

   WHO IS/SHOULD BE REPRESENTING MARKETING IN C-SUITE CONVERSATIONS?

Does it have to be a CMO? What are viable alternatives, if any?

   WHAT IS/SHOULD BE THE ROLE OF THE CMO?

Voice of the marketplace? Demand generation? Growth champion? Innovation-driver? Capability-builder? All of the above? What are the costs and benefits of different CMO roles under different conditions?

   WHAT IS THE IMPACT OF THE CHANGING ROLE OF MARKETING WITHIN THE CORPORATION?

Read the original article at AMA.org

This spring, we’re unveiling the AMA’s first ever intellectual agenda in our almost 80-year history that features what we believe are the “seven big problems” confronting marketing. The seven big problems will drive content for the entire AMA community: a multi-faceted and diverse group of professionals in marketing and sales, academic researchers and educators, and collegiate marketing hopefuls.

The AMA’s intellectual agenda seeks to serve as a big tent source of guidance and inspiration that includes both theoretical and applied knowledge that will ultimately provide actionable insights, frameworks, tools and resources for the AMA community. We’ve created a living document that can evolve along with the AMA community and the discipline of marketing itself.

–Russ Klein, AMA CEO

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