From building brand awareness, ensuring consistent messaging, to bringing in leads—your marketing department breathes life into your company from top to bottom through your customer’s eyes. Marketing does some seriously heavy lifting to help grow a business, but which lift is the most important one? When some of the work marketing does happens behind the scenes, what do business owners see as the strongest value-add?
We conducted a recent LinkedIn poll to answer a common question: “What’s the most important contribution a marketing department can provide to a company?”
The answers ran a wide gamut, but a few clear winners came up on top in the court of public opinion. Read on for an in-depth look into the role of marketing within a company. The most popular answers are broken down below, with the highest result last.
Why is Marketing Important?
1. Customer-Centric Culture
A little less than one-fifth (16%) of respondents to our survey said the most crucial role of marketing is to deliver a “customer-centric culture.” But what does it look like in practice?
Your marketing team is responsible for all of your messaging, including the construction of your target customer personas. These are archetypes of people who represent your “ideal” client base: from demographics to hobbies and typical online behavior, your buyer persona represents who you are directing your marketing efforts toward overall. This helps you build all of your efforts with this customer’s needs and wants in mind.
Good branding strategies never lose sight of this all-important individual. Customers feel included and invited to interact with your brand (and hopefully into your marketing and sales funnel to close the deal) when they are being directly spoken to and empathized with in your messaging. When interacting with brand materials, your clients “should also have increased awareness of and engagement with a firm’s brand, products …. all of which show that the brand is integrated into their priorities in a positive and productive way,” says Barbara Kaplan, CEO of BSK Strategies.
2. Growing Customer Awareness
You may offer the best product or service in your industry, but your best customers could be passing you by for a competitor if they aren’t familiar with your brand. According to our survey, 29% of participants believe the most important role of a marketing department is to ensure that “customers know the brand(s).”
Robert Curtiss, a National Account Manager with Business Group Resources, provides a poignant example of the power of brand recognition, “Can I have a kleenex? I spilled coke on the Formica because I was distracted by the Zamboni crashing into the jet-ski. That Zamboni driver should get a seeing-eye dog!”
As humorous as it is outlandish, Curtiss’s example holds water: Brand recognition is king in the court of public notice. Being the first brand that springs to mind for your category is a powerful way to “live rent-free” in your customers’ minds.
Through consistent application of brand guidelines, thought leadership work, and positive product and service placement, your marketing team is responsible for growing customer awareness.
3. Delivering Positive ROI
At the end of the day, your marketing team is there to provide a positive return on investment for the money you give them. This was the most popular choice, with nearly half (46%) of our respondents choosing it over other options. It seems the most obvious answer in business terms: your marketing team exists to convert the money you give them into more money for your business.
But is it that simple? “Positive ROI is a lagging indicator of a customer centric culture, customers knowing the brand, and everything else a marketing department does,” stipulates Mark H. Johnson, Talent Optimization Manager with PI Midlantic. “It’s all about financial results.” According to quite a few other commenters, Johnson hit the nail on the head with this analysis.
While delivering favorable ROI is a final result of a successful marketing team, their primary objectives, such as building a brand image, spreading awareness, and creating customer journeys, will all ultimately serve the purpose of creating a positive ROI. It follows that while this should be the main goal of your marketing strategy (and any other department in your business, in most cases), it can be achieved through a range of other avenues.
Not insignificantly. 9% of our respondents reported that the most important role of a marketing team is something else entirely. They may be onto something: from crafting client relationships to reflecting business values, reaching out to press, representing new releases, and more—chances are, your marketing team is busy creating more opportunities for your business growth than you realize.
Darren Sudman, Founder of Unless, an outsourced corporate social responsiblity consultancy, made a case for his answer. “Reflect the culture, purpose and value proposition. If those are aligned and well received, everything else takes care of itself,” says Sudman.
It’s a tried and true method to follow. The great Simon Sinek famously wrapped up his vision for marketing in rather succinct terms: “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it and what you do simply proves what you believe.”
If people are always going to buy your “why” before your “what,” perhaps the answer to the question “why is marketing important” lies within being able to connect and communicate your company’s why and your customer’s why.
Not sure if you’re communicating to the right customer, or don’t have a clear idea of the story you’re telling them? Download our Narrative Marketing Outline to help get that process started.
What do you think is the most important role for a marketing department? If you’d like to discuss this topic further or get help identifying the role your marketing department plays and how we can help fill those gaps, contact our team!
About the Author
As the Managing Director of &Marketing (and-marketing.com), Rajat “Raj” Kapur strives to provide small, medium, and mid-market businesses unparalleled marketing strategy and execution services. His team of professionals can either augment an existing team, or outsource the marketing function for a client.
&Marketing provides the robust outsourced marketing department growing companies need without the high overhead costs of big agencies or full-time employees. Our variable model empowers businesses to reach their growth goals through access to the guidance and expertise of senior level strategists and a flexible execution team.
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