Marketing, unrealized: is your midmarket organization missing something?


I forecast that 2013 will be another year in which the leading marketing writers and speakers will proclaim — louder than ever — that marketing must have a more prominent role in midmarket businesses. They will claim that marketing should be THE leading discipline in planning the direction of business. They may invoke experts like the “Grandfather of Modern Marketing,” Peter Drucker, who explained very early on: “The purpose of a business is to create a customer.”  and that, “Business has only two functions — marketing and innovation. All the rest are costs.”
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If that’s true, where are the medium sized company marketing leaders?

A survey of Fortune 1000 companies conducted by Ernst & Young found that only about 15% of all midsize companies employ some sort of marketing person with a chief or senior-level title such as chief marketing officer.

Instead of marketing leaders, midmarket organizations employ marketing managers who focus on tactics, such as advertising, event planning and sales support. Other midmarket companies prioritize sales and throw in the marketing responsibility as an afterthought – the common VP of Sales and Marketing role.

If Drucker is correct, the overall marketing program should be able to show how the marketing investment drives new revenue. Marketing activities must be accompanied by business measures and metrics. There are also innovative ways marketing can go beyond communications and media, to work with operations, product development, customer service and distribution. Cross functional collaboration will help to associate marketing with growth and business productivity. In fact, marketing cannot do it alone.
“The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him/her and sells itself.” Thus, “The aim of marketing is to make selling unnecessary.” —Drucker.

This is a call for marketing planning with business measures, and for cross functional collaboration. It’s also a call for marketers to develop a fluent understanding of the business purpose, operating functions, revenue streams and profit potential. By this definition, a successful marketer works across the business.

CEO’s listen to plans like these. And CFO’s fund them.

Marketers have a unique skill set. They are different from financial managers who look at the company’s history; they are skilled at actuarial accuracy. Marketers are different from operational managers who are concerned with the present; they are skilled at management discipline and efficiency.

Marketing is responsible for the future of the business, where it will find the next customer or marketplace. Marketers must be able to see things no one has seen before, things that have the potential to surprise and delight the market. Marketers also must help the company understand how to make and communicate something “Insanely Great.” These are conceptual thinking skills.

Marketing must be given a more prominent role, if midmarket companies are to remain competitive, profitable and growing. It is the job of CEO’s and midmarket business leaders to cultivate top tier marketing talent and capability. And it’s the job of marketing leaders to work with a knowledge of the entire business model.

With large companies moving downmarket to find revenues and low cost foreign competitors moving to the American market, midmarket companies MUST become more adept at marketing.  And, providing marketing a seat at the leadership table in the form of a Chief Marketing Officer or Vice President of Marketing with the right skills and support will ensure the long-term success of more midmarket companies.

Kevin Masi is co-founding principal and brand strategist for brand and digital marketing firm Torque. [link to He writes and speaks about agile marketing for organizations, with a particular focus on midmarket companiesTwitter [link to Google+