Getting a seat at the table
We had an exciting and enlivened corporate rebrand presentation the other day, and one of the participants from the very insightful client team (TeleSight Inc.) made an interesting point. Just because the majority of people prefer one direction, doesn’t make it right. Now, we won’t get into the global implications of this concept (political, religious) but keep it marketing centric. You all know the old maxim that a camel is a horse designed by committee (attributed to Vogue magazine, July 1958)—and that’s only if the committee’s recommendations actually get implemented.
As brand and marketing experts, we have for years been asked to gain consensus from a client group about a communications issue. It may be a group of senior executives, it may be a board, it may be a combination of employees and volunteers—and sometimes it’s the spouse, kids and ‘sister-in-law’. We are not intimidated. Disappointed, maybe, but not intimidated. We know that we have reasons for our recommendations and rationale for every solution. We can overcome objectives and generally guide the group to the ‘right’ solution. But this is indicative of an issue that confronts marketers across the spectrum.
Getting a seat at the table. The boardroom table.
We have the same discussions with global organizations as with 10-person firms—about the respect, authority, autonomy and budget granted to marketing. And here’s the great thing—the change is happening. Top performing companies around the globe and around the city recognize the value of brand (‘Brand is one of the most valuable assets for any company, accounting for about a third of shareholder value on average’), the importance of employees as advocates, the link between positioning and perception, and the ultimate fact that marketing can be measured. These CMOs have the ear of the CEO, together they nurture the brand, and most importantly, the decisions on marketing are made by the marketing experts.
When was the last time you heard of company-wide meeting of top management, where the CFO laid out three completely different options on the company’s quarterly report and asked for opinions from everyone and then took a vote. Not likely. Yet many organizations do this for website design, ad campaigns, identities, brandlines, etc. Because everyone has an opinion about marketing. Fine—they also have an opinion about where the business is located, but the decision is made based on facts, expenditures, forecasts, market conditions, business objectives and perhaps, expert opinion. It’s time for change to marketing.
So to all you CMOs, Marketing Directors, VPs and others: go ahead and gather input from all interested parties—that’s just research and discovery. But when it comes down to recommending the right platform, campaign, or creative direction, own it. Fight for it. Justify it. And demand the authority to implement it. Then measure it and be responsible for the outcome just as any other C_O must do to defend their budgets and their voice. Your brand will thank you.