Blog post

B2B Marketing’s Power Problem Is Not Just Marketing’s Problem

By Hank Barnes | February 23, 2021 | 0 Comments

go-to-market

Let’s face it and own it.   B2B Marketing is not viewed with a tremendous amount of respect in most organizations–and across the industry.   We regularly hear stories of sales superlatives or a brilliant product “selling itself,” but rarely hear the same stories for marketing.   In many cases, it is treated as a necessary evil.   That view often extends beyond the org.   When I was a VP Of Marketing for several startups, I had to change my title to VP of Marketing and Strategy in order to get analysts to view me with any credibility.

As we work with clients, we regularly see examples where they are interested in following or recommendations, but often seem powerless to do so.   This drove us to try to figure out just how bad the power problem is.   We surveyed 175 senior marketing leaders (VP or Above) in technology companies to understand how much of a say they have in their organizations (My colleague, Christy Ferguson, has published research on this for organizational leaders).   The results were not surprising—many don’t have much say or much power.  Even in terms of their own efforts

But digging deeper something truly revealing did appear.    In growth organizations, marketing is much more likely to truly have authority to drive key marketing decisions.

The chart highlights a number of areas where marketing should logically drive.  And they do in growth organizations.  In areas where others should lead, when marketing has a bigger say, the results are less positive.  If Marketing is not empowered to drive it’s function, then what’s the point–and similarly for other groups.  This perpetuates the stereotypical view of marketing that is prevalent.  I still remember when I would interview for VP of Marketing jobs.  Often, they simply wanted someone to manage the content creation process and generate leads (any lead, not necessarily good leads).  Marketing was purely tactical.  Those interviews did not last long.

But what about a bigger role?  We also looked at influence on other decisions.   In a similar pattern, marketing leaders in growth organizations are more likely to have a seat and a voice at the strategy table.

To me the message is clear and reinforces some of our research on buying behavior and decision making.    The top performing organizations seek diverse input from across many functions to identify options and vet alternatives.    They recognize the unique value that different perspectives bring and respect the contribution of others.   Empowerment is one component of this, but it is more than that–it is recognition.  And they also recognize that if they want to bring out the best in their people, you have to let them be their best.

Several years ago, we used to talk about “The Connected Model” – a call for organizations to treat marketing, development, and sales with an equal balance and avoid pointless finger pointing exercises.

Here is yet more evidence that we still have a balance problem that needs fixing.   Get to it.

Leave a Comment