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The next rung for marketers: Becoming a trusted advisor

At the 2012 International BMA Conference, Motorola Solutions CEO Greg Brown spoke about the importance of marketing within the overall performance and success of an organization.  Companies that are looking at marketing leadership as more than just a functional department — but as advisors who have a place at the table when key decisions are being made — are changing the overall narrative of B2B marketing and communications.

In many companies, marketing is relegated to a supporting role. The CEO, along with a small team of executives, identifies the goals and strategies designed to drive company growth.  These benchmarks are communicated to the marketing team, which is tasked with delivering everything from messaging to advertising, to email marketing to demand generation, in order to support of these objectives.

Sound familiar?  If so, you are far from alone.  Nevertheless, if you aren’t seen as a key player in the overall vision of your organization’s future, you put yourself at a disadvantage.

If marketing is viewed solely as a cost center — versus an asset that drives revenue and is vital to the overall growth of a company — you can be faced with resistance when it’s time to determine budgets for the year ahead. 

Earning the role as a trusted advisor — along with a seat at the table when planning the vision, goals and objectives for your company’s future — isn’t easy.  Changing the internal perceptions of marketing’s role in an organization is challenging, to say the least.  But it can be done.  Here are three ways to elevate the position of marketing in your company:

  • See the big picture For decades B2B marketing was limited to a small suite of channels — directories, magazines, trade shows and the like.  That’s no longer the case.  Today, there are myriad channels available to marketers; it can be overwhelming to keep on top of emerging trends in our industry.  As a result, it’s easy to get caught up in the tactics, versus envisioning how your objectives and strategies align with company goals. 

Examine and understand the goals of the business first, then select the appropriate channels.   This ensures that your activities are being driven by overall objectives, instead of a purely tactical focus. Ultimately, you need to demonstrate to your executive team that your department is more strategic and less tactical in nature.

  • Know your customer Marketers are in a unique and valuable position because they can serve as the (objective) voice of the customer.  Although salespeople speak with customers day in and day out, their conversations — and their mindset — are more limited, as their ultimate focus is converting prospects to clients as quickly as possible. 

Have your finger on the pulse of your target audiences.  Understand what they are doing, the challenges they are facing, and what they need.  There are a number of ways to accomplish this task, from reading trade publications, to conducting surveys and focus groups, to participating in sales calls and having informal conversations and discussions at trade shows.  Share this knowledge with the executive team, as it should play a role when setting goals and objectives.

  • Measure your impact Between small departments and multiple responsibilities too many B2B marketers are stretched thin these days.  As a result, many of us find ourselves focused solely on getting a campaign out the door before moving onto the next project.  But a successful marketer goes beyond simply developing and executing programs. 

Don’t abandon your marketing activities once they have launched.  In a challenging business environment it’s vital to show the value of your efforts. 

Through marketing, you build brand awareness and exposure and generate contacts and inquiries for your sales team — activities that can be tied to ROI when performed online.  By demonstrating a return on investment, you prove the worth of your programs to yourself, your company and the C-suite.

Chris Chariton is senior VP of product management & supplier marketing at GlobalSpec. She can be reached at

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