Marketing Clout

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Marketers were once considered to be central to a corporation's success. Today, they are assigned to positions of marginal importance. Increasing global competition and corporate scandals have forced corporate boards and shareholders to join the call for greater marketing accountability. Marketers must show a clear return on marketing investment by measuring and reporting the efficiency and effectiveness of marketing programs. It is time for marketers to demonstrate accountability.

Marketers should start by closing the communication gap and understanding the corporate agenda. Today's marketers simply do not speak the language of CEOs. After all, a CEO is more likely to have a background in finance than in marketing. While marketers focus on awareness and perceptions, the CEO is held accountable for shareholder value and profitable growth.

Executives must also cultivate an understanding of the value of marketing and begin to treat brands and customers as assets rather than expenses. In order to make the marketing investments that lead to profitability and increased shareholder value, executives must focus on brands and customers rather than products and services. This approach will help maximize the cash flows that create long-term shareholder value.

In order for marketers to regain stature within their organization, they must take the following steps:

Understand the CEO's agenda. Marketers must align their strategies with the overall corporate strategy for delivering shareholder value. They must demonstrate to CEOs how marketing investments result in increased shareholder value.

Broaden their skill set. Today's marketer must have the tools to articulate the effect that marketing investments will have on the company's bottom line. Seek professional help from a measurement consultant if needed.

Embrace a measured approach. Marketers must be able to identify and develop a set of benchmarks and performance indicators with which to optimize the marketing mix.

Beware of meaningless metrics. Not everything that marketers measure is meaningful. Metrics must be tailored to each corporation's business model and corporate strategy.

Embrace value-based marketing. Marketers must view customers and brands as valuable assets—and execute strategies that build and grow the equity and value of these assets over the long term.

The relegation of marketing from a position of influence to one of questionable importance is a trend that is not irreversible. The role of marketing can move back into the forefront of corporate strategy. By taking a proactive, measured approach to understanding, participating in and promoting the corporate agenda of delivering shareholder value, marketers can regain the stature they once had.

Pedro Laboy is COO-senior partner at Tocquigny. He can be reached at [email protected]

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