Gaining Power and Influence for Marketing

Modern Marketing


Roy Young, president of MarketingProfs and author of the excellent book Marketing Champions, recently discussed how to gain power and influence in the marketing role (this was part of his appearance on the Marketing Voices podcast). Here’s what Roy had to say, with my additional commentary:

Speak the financial “language of business”

First, marketers have to be clear about what marketing produces. Sales sells, but what does marketing produce? You might answer brand awareness, leads, and sales tools. But these answers disempower the marketing function. The best answer is that marketing generates cash flow in the short term and identifies sources for future cash flow in the long term.

In other words, marketing should speak the financial “language of business”. Marketers too often talk about awareness, customer satisfaction, market share, and positioning. But look at how every other influential executive in the organization talks – they use terms like ROI, margin, and stockholder equity. If these are not the terms that marketers use, marketing becomes disconnected from the power center. In sum, marketers can build marketing ROI and accountability by using hard metrics like revenue and cash flow, planning budgets and forecasting results with quantitative rigor, and tracking and reporting on bottom line results.

Repeatable and systematic methodology

Next, marketers need to develop repeatable and systematic processes. One reason that sales is effective in the organization is that they can follow agreed upon best practice methodologies. Similarly, finance is effective since they can follow generally accepted accounting principles that everyone understands and agrees about. In fact, all functions in the enterprise need repeatable and systematic processes in order to be seen as professional disciplines. Marketing is no different: what’s needed is a rigorous, quantifiable, and universally understood methodology for creating interest and turning that interest into revenue and cash flow. Only with this in place will marketing be seen as a professional discipline, not a second-class department that lacks rigor and precision.

For more on this topic, check out “How Marketing Can Earn a Seat at the Revenue Table” as well as “The Five Stages of Marketing Accountability“.