The Growing Role of Marketing in the World of Business

With the information age in full-throttle, marketing has taken on a bigger role in the business world of today. Below is a repost of my contribution to the thread "Marketing Is More Than Colorful Brochures and Social Media", as part of the eBook segment, "Naturally Caffeinated". I talk about perspective, metrics, department relationships, and what makes the best marketing individuals.  My colleague, Steve Guengerich, a Powershift principal and Capital Factory mentor, has made an impact on our Austin entrepreneur community by also creating an online tool for business leaders to share experiences, both positive and negative, of building companies. Other entrepreneurs are encouraged to leave their stories under the topics as well, and search for other great lessons here

Marketing is More Than Colorful Brochures and Social Media

To put marketing into perspective, the buyer's experience from the last 5 years and earlier has almost completely been obliterated. It's no secret that now consumers have all the information they need to make purchase decisions- or any decisions at all, right in the palm of their hands. The marketing of today helps to give that decision-making power to the people.

For simplification, here is a typical process of buying a car:

  • look up reviews (crowdsourced word of mouth)
  • head over to YouTube (social media)
  • talk to friends and family (word of mouth, maybe social media)
  • conduct online research for pricing (websites, SEO)
  • view or listen to an ad on Hulu or Spotify (advertising)

You know what to expect by the time you set foot in the dealership. Questions and options are narrowed and you're ready to negotiate. Gone are the days where you had to ask for all of that crucial information from the salesperson who gets a cut off your deal. This shift in purchase behaviors will only snowball, and the channels will become more fragmented. Marketers will have an even larger responsibility to figure this out.

Metrics

It's "easier" and cheaper than ever to start a business. This raises market competition, so businesses really need to understand how they stack up in multiple areas. Any information desired can be located and is accessible. Tons of low-cost tools help organize this data, and I consider most of these to be marketing management solutions with analytics baked in (think Pardot, Google Analytics, and Hootsuite). Lots of data means means you have to be smarter about what you look for and why.

Relationship Between Marketing & Sales

Marketing is crucial for sales. Sales teams can narrow their focus, spend less time on tire kickers and zero-in on more valuable prospects who are better equipped to make a purchase. In the big picture, marketing can provide data that supports and directs really any area of relationship between the company and the customer. 

What Makes a Great Marketer

With this new added weight to the marketing leadership role, it's important to make sure that they have the proper mix of skills. I think it starts with the following:

1) Great marketers are naturally inquisitive 2) Great marketers know how to sell 

Industries transform much faster today. If you don't have that "fire in your belly" to learn, do, or experiment, you will get crushed, run out of steam, or both. Being curious about the world can be a driving force in general. There's also a big issue of marketing becoming so specialized, understanding the bottom line of "why" will help to understand new mediums. 

In the same vein, and to add onto Laura's comment referencing new media channels: there is always a "new shiny toy". If you truly understand why people buy product, how they use it, and share it with others, you'll be able to identify triggers and know how to move the product off the shelf. 

CEOs and heads of business units can do more to grow their involvement when addressing these mounting challenges, as described in this timeless McKinsey report.  So yes, not only is marketing "more than colorful brochures and social media", it takes on a defining role in today's businesses. 

My ideas are in constant development on this topic, so I share some experience and encourage further thoughts in the comments section below. Don't forget to head over to the community thread to view more lessons shared on leadership, social ventures, networks, and more.