Every Marketing organization needs to answer a fundamental question: “what’s the role of Marketing in our business ?” Why ? Because the “brand” is almost always much more than just the Marketing plans.
In many organizations, for example CPG, Marketing’s role is clear, well defined and a given. But for many organizations, particularly non marketing driven ones, it’s a question that needs answering. In an earlier post “What Do CEO’s Really Want From Marketing?,” I summarized ex-IBM and American Express CEO Lou Gerstners’ point of view: the role of Marketing is to build the brand and deliver a great customer experience. But is it really that simple ?
Extending Marketing Influence
At a recent CMO Club dinner in New York, I had the privilege of leading a discussion on this very topic: “Leading the Brand Beyond Marketing.” What followed was a spirited discussion among CMO’s about how and when Marketing should exert more influence over the brand experience. The simple part was agreeing that Marketing should influence the brand experience beyond the marketing plans. The hard part is how.
Tools for Defining Brand Experience Drivers
Here are 3 tools I’ve found helpful in increasing Marketing’s influence over the total brand experience–including some areas historically considered irrelevant to Marketing. The common denominator with all of them is facts. The tools provide a data based approach to defining which factors are driving the brand and what role Marketing should play in influencing them.
- Market Contact Audit — This is an excellent tool to help you understand the relative importance of various Marketing contact points in your category. It measures the top 35 contact points for impact, as well as brand ownership–e.g. the degree which contact points are owned in consumers minds by different brands. Importantly, the approach forces you to think beyond the standard marketing touchpoints–e.g. advertising, sponsorship, etc. and consider new ones like answers forums, annual report, etc. A likely outcome is a clearer understanding of the most impactful contact points in your existing marketing mix as well as new ones outside the traditional marketing mix that you hadn’t thought about before.
- Brand Equity / Customer Satisfaction Drivers — Customer satisfaction surveys not only measure satisfaction. They also measure the important factors contributing to satisfaction and quantify the relationship between those factors and satisfaction. Understanding these drivers enables Marketing to define areas outside Marketing that are central to driving a superior brand experience.
- Corporate Reputation Drivers— Similar to above, a corporate reputation survey measures the overall corporate reputation and the key drivers which most impact, positively or negatively, the reputation of the firm. For single brand firms, this can be a critically important element of managing the total brand experience. It’s different from satisfaction research in that it measures all stakeholder groups (e.g. media, analysts, NGO’s, etc. ) and it is focused on corporate reputation, not the user experience or brand equity.
Defining The Role of Marketing
With a clearer understanding of the most important drivers of brand experience, the question then becomes: “what’s marketing’s role in driving it?” Developed by the Marketing Leadership Council and Corporate Executive Board, the “Marketing Alignment Survey” is a great tool to foster discussion and alignment as to the role of Marketing in your organization. It surveys non Marketing functions to understand, across the full range of Marketing activities, both the perceived importance and impact of the Marketing organization. This helps answer the question: “does everyone agree on what marketing should be doing?” and if not, to define gaps and how to bridge them.
It’s vitally important that within the firm, there’s a central point of influence over the key drivers that impact brand experience. It’s less important that Marketing have direct functional control–and in most organizations it’s not realistic or appropriate that they do so. What’s most important is that the Marketing organization play a leading role in ensuring that there is focus on the most important touchpoints that bring the brand to life.