The Role of Marketing Has Grown, But Maybe Not Enough

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Most marketing leaders agree that the role of marketing has grown significantly over the past few years. Much of the recent conversation about the expanding scope of responsibility has focused on marketing’s role in managing customer experiences and driving business growth.

Numerous research studies have shown that marketers believe they are (or soon will be) responsible for designing and managing customer experiences. For example, in a 2014 survey of 478 CMOs and other senior marketing executives by The Economist Intelligence Unit, 75% of the survey respondents said that within three to five years, they would be responsible for the end-to-end customer experience.

Growing revenue has always been a primary objective of marketing, but the pressure on marketing leaders to drive revenue growth is increasing. In a 2016 survey of 535 CEOs and 847 CMOs by Accenture Strategy, 50% of the CEOs said their CMO is primarily responsible for driving disruptive growth in their organization. CMOs were ranked ahead of all other C-level executives, including the CEO, the chief strategy officer, and the chief sales officer.

To win a leading role in customer experience and business growth, marketers will need to step beyond the responsibilities that have traditionally been associated with the marketing function. Two recent research studies provide an interesting perspective on how the scope of marketing has, and has not, expanded.

The CMO Survey

The August 2018 edition of The CMO Survey by Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, the American Marketing Association, and Deloitte provides fairly detailed information regarding the current scope of marketing’s responsibilities. This survey generated a total of 324 responses from senior marketing leaders in U.S. companies, 66% of whom were affiliated with B2B companies. The detailed survey report makes it possible to isolate the responses from B2B marketers, and the following discussion is based on those responses.

The CMO Survey asked participants to identify the activities or functions that marketing is primarily responsible for in their company. The following table shows the activities that more than 50% of respondents said marketing is primarily responsible for in their organization.

The table below shows the activities or functions that less than 50% of respondents said marketing is primarily responsible for in their company.

These survey findings suggest that marketing’s scope of responsibility has not expanded beyond conventional marketing communications functions in most B2B companies. For example, only 38.6% of respondents from B2B product companies, and 48.1% of respondents from B2B services companies said that marketing is primarily responsible for customer experience. And only 35.1% of respondents from B2B product companies, and 32.7% of respondents from B2B services companies indicated that marketing is primarily responsible for revenue growth.

The survey also shows that marketing is not primarily responsible for the development of market entry strategies, new product development, pricing, or innovation in most B2B companies.

Some participants in The CMO Survey may have interpreted the survey question strictly and based their response on whether marketing has primary responsibility for a given activity. If that’s true, it’s possible that marketing is involved in some of the activities shown in the second table.

The CMO Council/Deloitte Survey

A 2018 survey by the CMO Council and Deloitte provides a more nuanced view of marketing’s scope of responsibility. This survey produced 191 responses from marketing leaders, and appears to include both B2B and B2C marketers. In this research, the survey participants were asked to identify their level of involvement in several areas. The following table shows the percentage of respondents who said they were leading, influencing, or not involved in these areas.
























The Takeaway

For the past few years, many marketing leaders have argued that marketing is, or soon will be, the principal orchestrator of customer experiences, and that marketing is evolving from “brand storyteller” to “growth driver.” These research findings are important because they show that many marketing leaders have more work to do to win a leading role in customer experience and business growth.

The gap is particularly significant when it comes to business growth. Producing sustained revenue growth requires companies to leverage multiple growth drivers, many of which have not been traditionally associated with the marketing function. To successfully lead growth efforts, marketing leaders will need to extend their influence to areas such as market entry strategies, product development, pricing, and innovation.

Top image courtesy of Petr Sejba (www.moneytoplist.com) via Flickr CC.

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