It amazes me that there are still some businesses that relegate marketing to a functional role reporting up to the C-suite rather than being part of the leadership team. These days, no organization – corporate, family-owned or non-profit – can afford not to have marketing expertise around the boardroom table. A Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) must add the “voice of the customer” perspective at the highest level of strategy determination and charting direction.

Of course, I’m using the term marketing in its holistic sense, representing the integration of sales, advertising, public relations, social media, research, market-driven product innovation and new market development. In today’s increasingly competitive landscape, internet-empowered customers have a plethora of communications channels for information, discussion, purchase decisions and even rating products for other potential buyers. These customers can make or break a B2B or B2C brand regardless of how good the company’s operations, finance and technology are.

Reputation and brand value are bottom line assets that your customers control.

There are lots of examples of companies where marketing has a leadership role, like Apple, Nike and Travelocity. I also see examples – no names here – of organizations that are making business decisions that are clearly not aligned with their customers’ needs. I hope they’ll elevate a CMO to the C-suite soon in the interest of their stakeholders and shareholders.

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