Clarifying the Mission

19 years ago   •   2 min read

By Marcia Kadanoff

You may be curious about why “clarify the mission” sits where it
does at the bottom of the roadmap.  Marketing is unlike any other
function in the business in that it’s mission is about as clear as
mud.  The senior marketing executives we talk with tell us it is a
constant challenge to help others at the company understand the
mission, roles, and responsibilities of marketing. 
Misunderstandings here can layer expectations on marketing that take
the senior executive’s job from difficult to mission impossible.

A recent article8
underlines the point by dividing senior marketing executives into three
types, ranging from tactical to strategic.  The most tactical role
is a marketing services provider, who spends the majority of his or her
time procuring services at least cost from agencies and media
companies.  The most strategic role is the “super CMO” who is
works with the CEO to drive growth.  In between these two extremes
is the “classic CMO” who compiles and shares best practices, as an
advisor to the marketing executives who reside in the divisions and who
are responsible for planning and implementing marketing programs. 
The diversity of roles is telling as it reflects a lack of clarity
around the value add that marketing should provide. 

Another problem that comes up is that many companies seem to define
marketing based solely on the volume or kinds of activities
accomplished.  For example, the number of ad campaigns fielded,
leads generated, or sales promotions put together in a just-in-time
manner.  Activity-based accounting like this is one attempt to
make marketing more accountability that can backfire.  There is a
real risk of burn out, as marketing people run faster and faster and
while making little real progress because no one stops the insanity
long enough to ask whether the activities performed actually matter in terms of driving shareholder value. 

To make marketing matter, marketing has to have a mission that ties
what it does squarely to the creation of shareholder value.  A
company is of no value without its customers.9  This should make marketing’s mission clear or at least obvious.  Marketing is the only function at the company uniquely
tasked with acquiring new customers of value, maximizing the value of
customers over time, putting in place programs that aid retention, and
migrating customers through the company’s product portfolio.

Actions speak louder than words.  To truly make this marketing’s
mission, we need a way to link what marketing does every day to changes
in customer value and to the company’s financial statements.  Many
academics have tried to create models to value customer equity. 
These models look good on paper but are impractical to implement. 

ROI Marketing is a practical way to link marketing activities to
specific customers and—by valuing what those customers bring to the
business—show how specific marketing activities drive growth in revenue
and profits.   

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