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2013: The Year Marketers Are Expected To Be Strategic

By Laura McLellan | December 08, 2012 | 3 Comments

What will be different in 2013?  Marketing will lead more disruption, create more innovation, drive more change.  In short, it will generate a lot more visibility than ever before, all across the organization.  Gartner analyst Jennifer Beck predicts that starting in 2013, digital marketing will be one of the top three imperatives on 100% of CEO agendas.   See “Predicts 2013: Digital Marketing Pushes Marketing Executives to a More Strategic Role”   [subscription required]  Leading marketing publications are calling 2013 “the year of the marketer.”

If you’re a marketer, you could argue that marketing has always played a major role in setting business strategy, but most functions outside of marketing wouldn’t agree with you.  The most egregious perception is that marketing equals advertising, or marketing is all about promotion.  Baloney! It hasn’t been that way in most companies for a decade or longer.  It’s so ironic that marketers – acknowledged communications experts – have such a difficult time  “marketing Marketing!”

One function that is listening and learning, however, is the internal IT organization. Gartner research with 512 U.S. and European companies this year (1/2 marketing, 1/2  IT managers) validates the trend we started to see some years ago.  Marketing is assuming a more significant role in guiding the organization’s strategic direction.                         

This graphic shows that both marketing and internal IT managers recognize a huge increase in just four years, with the largest increase due to come in 2013-2014.

 But what is the opportunity this strategic expectation of marketers presents?  Consider:

  • Marketing-directed outcomes.   You increasingly have  significant responsibility for four big outcomes beyond the expected ones of  revenue and profitability.  They are go-to-market plans, product roadmaps,  a customer experience plan , and company-wide strategic plan.   31% of marketing managers in a recent survey said they had total responsibility for strategic planning.  Five years ago that would have been unthinkable.  
  • The spiraling marketing money trail.  Marketing spending as a percentage of company revenue currently averages in the neighborhood of 8 to 12%.  Marketing is mainly measured on revenue and profitability.  In a significant number of companies you are already responsible for a P&L.   For executive teams to approve that amount of marketing investment, you know there’s high importance put on achieving strategic business objectives such as “grow the business”!  
  • An unlikely culprit – digital everything.  Digital marketing, digital business, digital commerce, digital analytics – we see digital used as a modifier for almost every aspect of business.  Often marketing is the vanguard of digital – if not leading the company, then an active participant in cross-functional teams who are evolving everything from offerings, go-to-market channels, processes and business models. The expected outcome is to acquire and retain customers more effectively, more cheaply, and with more speed.

So let’s all do our part to meet expectations – make 2013 the year your actions raise awareness of marketing’s strategic value and business contributions.

Comments are closed


  • This notion that marketing is moving beyond glorified marcom to guiding the organization’s strategic direction are extraordinary. What do you supporse … are the drivers that have caused this sudden change of heart? Is it coming from the CEO, who in turn is asking marketing for growth ideas?

  • Chris Taylor says:

    Thanks for some good things to chew on. Talking to customers, more and more of the technology spend is moving to the CMO. That leaves less innovation in the hands of IT but an increasing cost of maintaining legacy systems. Something has to give.

  • Great article. I really appreciate you sharing this. Previously, I would have disagreed with digital marketing.