I have worked in the world of marketing and communications for a long time. There are parts of marketing that remain the same, but I have found the role of marketing is completely different, depending on the leadership at the organization. And ultimately, as the marketing director, the definition of marketing is mine to create.
There are those leaders who see the world of marketing as collateral and things. In my experience, these have typically been “old school” minded leaders (not old, many young leaders operate this way too) who focus on numbers, stats and operational measures of success very heavily. Problems are seen as threats, people are appreciated mildly and every issue has someone/something to blame. Leaders seem to get their confidence from being right, in charge and are threatened by initiative that touches their areas. Marketing is a responsive department, a bow-making department that creates pretty flyers and things out of operational plans set by someone up top. These are challenging placements and usually boil down to the marketing team becoming educator and executor at the same time. The opportunity is to teach leaders the value of marketing by sticking your neck out and bringing proposals that meet a business solution. Show them data, provide them reports, market intelligence, dashboards and summaries that spell out the value of marketing. It can work. I’ve seen it. I’ve been part of it.
Working with leaders who get marketing and understand its strategic value to the organization is a dream. These are usually pretty open leaders who understand that collaboration goes a lot farther to achieve goals. And by collaboration, I mean there is no threat, no “my way” or harsh edicts. Problems are not a threat, but deserve examination and consideration. These leaders are hard on process and not on people. They do not get their security from their position, title or accomplishments, but from the overall success of the organization and the greater team. Marketing’s role is integrated, visionary and essential to achieving business goals. Likewise, in these settings, marketing should use their insight into competitive and market pressures, identify needs and trends and be an important part of strategically leading the organization. It works. I’ve seen it. I’ve been part of changing the course of the organization.
As a marketing director, it’s my role to lead, regardless of where I am working. Each day, each campaign, each project is my opportunity to innovate, initiate and challenge the status quo, to move the company forward, to help our team and our leadership be successful. Each day I have an opportunity to make a difference. And ultimately, that is what keeps me coming back to this world I love and that we get to work in.