The role of marketing was a major topic of conversation last year, and there is a widespread belief that marketing’s scope of responsibility has expanded. In the August 2018 edition of The CMO Survey, eight out of ten (79.6%) of the survey respondents said that the role of marketing in their organization had broadened over the past five years.
Marketing’s responsibility for orchestrating customer experiences has been widely discussed for several years. More recently, industry commentators and practicing marketers have become focused on the role of marketing in driving business growth.
In a recent survey of over 200 CMOs and senior VPs of marketing by the CMO Council and Deloitte, 27% of respondents said that the CMO is primarily responsible for the growth strategies and revenue generation for their organization. The CEO came in second at 22%.
Marketing leaders also believe that other senior business leaders expect them to play a leading role in growth. When participants in the CMO Council/Deloitte survey were asked what level of expectation there is among senior executives and board members for marketing to be a growth driver, 35% of respondents put the expectation level at high, and 33% said senior company leaders think growth is the primary mandate of marketing.
Some will argue, of course, that this is nothing new. After all, it’s fair to say that growth has always been the “prime directive” of marketing. What’s new is that marketing and other business leaders now believe that marketing needs to expand the tools it uses to drive revenue growth.
So as we begin a new year, it’s appropriate to ask two basic questions about the expanded role of marketing. First, to what extent have marketing leaders embraced the growth challenge and adjusted their activities to play a larger role in growth? And second, what should be the role of marketing in driving growth, and what do marketing leaders need to do to fulfill that role?
Where Do We Stand Today?
The recent research indicates that leading business growth is more of an aspirational goal than a current reality for most marketers. Overall, the studies show that most marketing leaders are still relying on conventional marketing communications tools to drive growth, and they remain much less involved in other business activities that have a significant impact on growth.
For example, in the latest edition of The CMO Survey, senior marketing leaders from B2B and B2C companies were asked to identify the activities or functions that marketing is primarily responsible for in their company. The top four activities identified by survey respondents were:
- Brand (91.4% of respondents)
- Digital marketing (82.7%)
- Social media (82.7%)
- Advertising (79.6%)