Explain, Influence, Manage and Lead from the Front
A glance at the back pages of most newspapers and marketing magazines will reveal a variety of different titles for the job of marketing director; including customer marketing, customer experience, digital, direct, brand, communications, marketing and commercial and so on. This underlines that a marketer requires a combination of skills and expertise to be successful.
Whatever the title, communicating and managing the effective delivery of the commercial strategy through the business is pivotal to success.
Explaining, influencing and setting the tempo for the business directly affects the motivation or drive of staff, in other words, how well the strategy is executed. As Jack Welch once wrote in a letter to shareholders: “In the old culture, managers got their power from secret knowledge: profit margins, market share, and all that… In the new culture, the role of the leader is to express a vision, get buy-in, and implement it. That calls for open, caring relations with every employee, and face-to-face communication. People who can’t convincingly articulate a vision won’t be successful. But those who can will become even more open – because success breeds self-confidence.”
Marketing is still finding its feet in many organisations, especially service organisations, and those outside of the packaged goods sector. In these organisations, it is less clear where the remit of marketing begins and ends and the marketing director is less able to call the shots. Often the marketing remit is owned by the chief executive or managing director, as it is only at senior level that the various strands of responsibility come together. In these organisations, there may also be senior managers with overlapping roles and responsibilities. Thus the influencing and management challenges will be greater and more complex.
The start-point is for marketers to expect to be misunderstood. Many see marketing as fluffy, creative, primarily associated with advertising and lacking in rigor. So it is vital to explain and explain again your leadership intentions and how marketing can add value. To exert influence and lead and manage effectively it is also vital to build relationships with your colleagues.
Nowhere is this more important than with your sales counterparts. For marketing and sales are often confused or moulded into one function. Yet, marketing and sales see things differently. Sales sees targets while marketing sees objectives. Sales looks for buyers while marketing aims to understand customers. Sales rightly sees products and their benefits whilst marketing sees brands and their positioning and values. Marketing has the power to not only lift sales but strengthen both price and profit. Reaching this understanding with sales will be the most important single powerful relationship builder with a fellow director.
But there is a whole board out there – all with their own individual agendas and methods. In practice Boards work to agree projects and finite deliverables based on the achievement of given numbers with the Finance Director playing an influential role. Boards think logically and unemotionally. A board will want to know HOW (and how much) then WHAT and WHEN. As Head of Marketing your task is to understand the customer and to build brand values based on an emotional response. Bear in mind that these aims and outcomes are foreign to all your board colleagues, with the possible exceptions of the HR Director (although today that function is often more concerned with compliance than anything else).
So you can easily see how a general misunderstanding as to the real role of marketing can arise. So explain what you are doing and explain why. And as each individual is different, each must be treated differently too.
Explaining, influencing and leading from the front is one of seven essentials to be a successful marketing director. Find out more in . This has been acclaimed as the most comprehensive guide to help marketers improve their marketing effectiveness. Available in hardback and ebook form you can read the free introductory chapter of The Marketing Director’s Handbook on our website.