What is your favorite misconception about marketing?
Mine is that marketing is a hit to the company’s bottom line: an expensive, ancillary department meant to pump out brochures, social media posts and press releases and make noise at trade shows.
After more than 15 years in a largely engineering- and sales-driven industry, I am no longer shocked when I hear people express such views about marketing. That does not mean I agree with or support the idea that marketing is nothing more than a content factory meant to serve “more important” parts of the business, like R&D and sales. Instead of getting frustrated, now I take action.
Whatever industry you are in, I imagine you encounter preconceived and unfounded ideas about what marketing is and what it can do. Fortunately, as marketing professionals, we know marketing’s true capabilities and potential. If we want marketing to step up and play a bigger role in our organizations and beyond, I believe it is our responsibility to influence and change other people’s views.
I see marketing as a driver of revenue, growth, impact and innovation. I am working to redefine and even reinvent marketing’s identity in a tech-driven industry. Will you join me?
You can redefine marketing’s identity within your organization too. You just need to take the right approach.
The key is understanding the problem: Identities form with or without you. That is true of individuals, groups, teams, departments, organizations and entire companies. This means that if you are not actively shaping marketing’s identity, it will form on its own, perhaps in a way that could hurt marketing’s effectiveness and potential.
While identities are often built on self-beliefs, when left to chance and outside forces, they are generally built on others’ beliefs instead. Some of those beliefs may be valid. Some may not. The issue arises when preconceived and unfounded beliefs about marketing take hold within an organization and lead to dysfunction, suboptimal results, low morale and limited potential.
Here is what to do:
Start by diagnosing marketing’s current identity to establish a baseline, assess the magnitude of the problem and gain an understanding of how much change is needed. You can do this through an anonymous survey or by hiring an external coach or consultant to capture anonymous feedback from key stakeholders.
Then, clearly define what you want marketing’s identity to be. I suggest the following steps:
1. Identify your beliefs about marketing and marketing’s potential within your organization.
2. Create a team charter to redefine or reinvent marketing’s identity, and work with your team to identify their beliefs about marketing and marketing’s potential within your organization.
3. Develop a complete picture of marketing’s desired identity based on your beliefs and those of your team.
These three steps are simple, but they are not easy. With this picture in mind, you should now create the change you want to see. This will require you to work with your marketing team and your broader organization to turn this desired state into a reality.
You may need to identify new beliefs, capabilities and behaviors your team will need to adopt, as well as create a new environment in which marketing’s desired identity can thrive. Most certainly, you will need to reposition marketing within your organization. Getting others within your organization to buy into marketing’s new identity is crucial. You should thoughtfully reposition marketing and ensure your team shows up in a way that aligns with marketing’s desired identity consistently over time.
Still, some may be slow or reluctant to see marketing in a new light. You may need to have one or more crucial conversations with those who are less supportive or skeptical of marketing’s new identity to influence their views and beliefs.
Finally, remember that change is rarely quick or easy. This effort to redefine marketing’s identity is meant to build marketing’s impact and potential within your organization, as well as increase your organization’s impact and potential within your market. You can either clarify marketing’s desired identity, implement changes and work to make marketing’s new identity stick yourself or consider working with a coach or consultant to help you do so.
Whether you choose to do this work to redefine marketing’s identity on your own or with the help of external support, keep your vision of marketing’s potential at the forefront of your mind and the power of this new identity close to your heart. They can keep you going when change seems unlikely and help you create a new marketing identity that positions marketing as the top-line growth-generating, business-driving, leadership force it is.