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3 Ways Marketing’s Role is Expanding

Posted on  22 February 12  by 

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Marketing is sometimes glamorized, sometimes scoffed at, and frequently misunderstood.  In fact, Marketing seems the perfect profession to feature in the popular “What People Think I Do” meme (and a quick web search reveals many people agree).  Internet sensations aside, perhaps some of the confusion about marketing stems from the fact that the role is rapidly changing and expanding.  Channels are proliferating, technology is evolving, customer behavior is changing, and marketers today have more responsibilities to juggle and objectives to meet than ever before.

Some of the most significant additions to Marketing’s “To-Do” list include:

Owning More of the Funnel: Specifically in the B2B world, Marketing is taking on more responsibility in part because of customers’ tendency to delay contact with Sales.  As we have posted about several times before, on average customers are 57% of the way through their purchase decision making process before they allow Sales to play a role.  As a result, Marketing owns more of the funnel and its role expands beyond generating awareness and helping customers gather information to addressing customers’ underlying purchase motivations and building momentum towards the sale.  Our 2011 B2B work, Influencing the Newly Empowered Customer, addresses Marketing’s new role in the mid-funnel head on.

Generating Radical Innovation: While a technology- or engineering-led approach can produce incremental improvements, truly radical innovations have to start with the customer.  In addition to their responsibilities of taking new innovations to market, Marketing teams are increasingly tasked with helping product and R&D teams understand customers and uncover their unmet/unarticulated needs.  Check out our recent work on innovation, which turns the numbers focused approach to innovation on its head and argues in favor of fewer, bigger, more protected innovations.

Surfing the Technology Tidal Wave: Marketing and technology have always been frenemies – while tech offers new ways to interact with, understand, and target customers, it can also make marketers feel like they are trapped in a hamster wheel trying to keep up with the rapidly evolving set of channels and tools they must master.  As customers latch on to new tech trends, so must marketers (and frequently without any additional budget).  One of the biggest tech-related changes in the B2B world as of late has been the adoption of marketing automation tools.   If this is a priority for you, click through to our Marketing Automation Resource Center to find ideas and advice for handling the demands this new technology brings from other marketers in the trenches.

Many of Marketing’s expanded duties seem to tie back to one central theme that we are increasingly hearing this year: customer centricity.  Companies are growing wise to the fact that orienting everything they do around the customer is the best path to profitability (to give credit where credit is due, it is not as though this is a totally new realization, more that it is a more urgent priority today thanks to a confluence of many economic, technological, and social factors).  And who knows customers best?  Who has been oriented around customer wants, needs, and expectations from the beginning?  Say it with me – MARKETING!

Marketers, what other roles have you been asked to take on?  Overall, do you see Marketing’s expanded role as a curse or a blessing (or something in between)?  Please share your ideas in the comments section below.

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