How We As Marketers Can Regain Our Swagger

How We As Marketers Can Regain Our Swagger

Yesterday, I was part of a packed house to hear Lawrence Kimmel, CEO of the Direct Marketing Association, discuss new marketing trends for 2011 and beyond. His analysis of the future is as scary as it is exciting, because it will require that we as marketers analyze the way we currently do things, and evolve to match the new realities of our economy, global market, and technology.

Lawrence Kimmel, CEO of the Direct Marketing Association

One particularly pointed comment Kimmel made was that as a whole, marketers have devolved from affecting the “Four P’s” (Product, Price, Place and Promotion) of our companies’ go-to-market strategies to focusing solely on the Promotion component. This limits the positive value we bring to our companies, diminishes our role as leaders in our organizations, and threatens the success of our companies.

So how can we as marketers take back our roles as important innovators, profit drivers, and strategic thinkers in our organizations? How do we regain our Swagger? Here are three suggestions, with comments from other marketing leaders:

Marketers need to advocate tolerance for exploratory solutions.

We now know that we are not going back to any previous state of economic expansion and spending any time soon, and business leaders are also realizing that cost cutting and efficiencies are not enough to grow the bottom line. Marketers have an opportunity to be a respected player as analysts and investors start to exert pressure for better results driven by top-line revenue growth. However, as Steve Jones, former CMO at The Coca Cola Company and principal at (r)evolution, points out, it is essential that marketers develop within executive management a tolerance for exploratory and insightful solutions.

Steve Jones, former CMO at The Coca Cola Company and principal at (r)evolution

“[Marketers] need to make the case for managed risk taking. They need to demonstrate that they understand the company agenda, can explore possibilities responsibly without betting the farm or burning unpredictable sums of cash. They need to make the case that the landscape has been shifting since we all put our heads down in September 2008. New players from India are providing better services; new producers from China are increasing quality products; new middle classes are emerging that we need to penetrate. Consumers have completely shifted their attitudes and values and need to be approached in a new way.  And marketers need to act like business leaders, not flakey ad guys.”

Marketers need to regain credibility by understanding the new landscape and creating a new marketing model.

Jones contends that marketer’s credibility is questionable because they haven’t figured out the true value of new technology. “They haven’t figured out how to use it in a way that new young consumers want to use it. To regain credibility and respect, marketers need to take back responsibility for understanding how to use the digital and Web technology as a meaningful marketplace.”

Jeffrey Hayzlett, former CMO of Kodak

Jeffrey Hayzlett, former CMO of Kodak, suggests that marketers should be prepared for the landscape to constantly change and welcome the challenges and opportunities that it brings. “Marketing is such a dynamic field, and with technology evolving rapidly, it is becoming ever more complex with even more creative outlets. I think the best marketers are those that embrace change while knowing their brand and what it means to customers. They should constantly be learning about themselves, the market, customers, and new technology they can utilize.”

Marketers need to maintain their focus on both strategic idea generation and measurability.

Few executives will argue that new initiatives that are well-researched and thought-through are bad ones.  What tends to drive everyone crazy is when it cannot be determine if those new ideas were a success or failure, and whether or not they warrant additional testing or financial investment.  This is when marketers look like creative geniuses, but financially irresponsible.  Marketers can gain the respect of their peers by making strategic contributions to the organization that lead to the expansion of revenue-generating initiatives and the quick dismissal of great ideas that failed.

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