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How to Keep Your Marketing Department from Disappearing


Marketing MavenI recently asked a question on two LinkedIn discussion groups, "Is marketing on its way out?" As part of this, I quoted an interview of Gerd Leonhard in a Harvard Business Review blog "The idea of having a separate marketing department is going to vanish.*"   

I was surprised to get over 90 comments and many "likes." Here are some of the themes:


Marketing isn't going away.

Dr. Brian Monger • Found it. "... marketing department is going to vanish. In the future, the "reason to buy" will be socially motivated"

Ken Evans •. . . Maybe in companies where marketing has been diluted so much that it is just a corporate cheerleader and event organizer, but if you are a firm where product matters the marketing group still has a leadership role in product, market and customer development.

Marketing is changing, but won't go away. 

Jason Miller • Marketing departments are not going anywhere. They will be challenged though moving forward as they shift from a cost center to a revenue driver. The technology is now available for marketers to be held accountable for their spending as it relates to driving revenue. At the end of the day, marketing will only become more important for the ones who are doing it right.


The internet is changing the landscape.

Priscilla Gandel • I agree with Gerd: “When we are connected, we don’t need someone to interrupt and tell us which cookies are better, we can do that for ourselves.” That it not what marketers should be trying to do. If they do, they will not survive. We should be listening to our prospects and customers through constant feedback loops and communicating in meaningful ways to deliver content, guidance and value that will strategically promote our brands.  .  .

Peter Johnston • Nothing's new in this world. I just found this quotation from Peter Drucker:

"Marketing is so basic that it is not just enough to have a strong sales department and to entrust marketing to it. Marketing is not only much broader than selling; it is not a specialized activity at all. It encompasses the entire business. It is the whole business seen from the point of view of its final result, that is from the customer’s point of view. Concern and responsibility for marketing must therefore permeate all areas of the enterprise."

. . .

What value do marketing and sales people bring to the customer/company conversation, when the customer and company are directly connected via the net?

Here are my thoughts. Empowered by the Internet customers are disrupting every function in every industry. For many, the only sustainable competitive advantage is knowledge of and engagement with customers. To quote Jeff Bezos at Amazon, "We're not competitor obsessed, we're customer obsessed. We start with what the customer needs, and we work backwards.**"


For CMOs this is a crisis, both a danger and an opportunity. To lead through this period of digital disruption, CMOs must establish strong digital relationship with customers and prospects. However, establishing strong digital relationships means the CMO has to manage and influence people and processes across the company, not just in the marketing organization.

 Customer Lifecycle V1

As one example, successful digital marketing is a data driven process that requires integration across marketing, sales, finance and IT. For example marketing can start a digital relationship with a prospective customer, but if there isn't a relatively smooth hand-off to sales, it will end quickly.

Likewise, without support from IT and to integrate marketing systems with the corporate data warehouse (CDW), marketing can't tell effectively which contacts are current customers and which still are prospects. Without integration of financial data, marketing cannot identify which leads are the most profitable.

Marketing organizations are spending more on the technology underlying data driven marketing, but 66% are finding at or below average results from their investments***.  Our experience matches an IDC analysis**** which indicates that marketing organizations are spending too much of their effort on the technology and too little on the organizational change needed to establish strong processes and develop the business skills needed to effectively use the information they develop.

Will this result in the end of marketing? Maybe not, but it does require a supportive CEO or COO, and that CMOs develop a new set of skills that go way beyond managing one's own domain.

How well aligned are your Marketing and Sales Organizations? Download our Sales and Marketing Alignment Checklist.

**Forrester  "Executive Overview The Customer Experience Ecosystem Playbook 2013"

***ITSMA “Realizing the Promise of Marketing Technology’” 2013
****IDC “Predictive Analytics for Marketing”  Jan 2013 #238417


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