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 / Winter 2004 / Issue 37(originally published by Booz & Company)


Making the Perfect Marketer

Outcomes. When considering revenue, earnings, market share, degree of conversion, ROI, or something else, marketers and their leadership must agree on how they will measure success. "Most CMOs run into trouble because expectations are not clearly set and CEOs run out of patience," said a top marketer at a financial-services company.

Visibility. In companies or industries where marketing does not have a track record, it is important to figure out "how to market marketing," as one senior vice president at a financial-services firm told us. In industries like consumer packaged goods, where marketing rules the roost, marketers may face a different but equally difficult challenge to their relevance. "Everybody thinks they are a marketer, and therefore they value the marketing function less," a vice president of marketing at a CPG company pointed out. In either case, it's vital that the CEO be a visible supporter of the marketing agenda within the organization.

3. Develop organizational linkages. The CMO's role is a mix of control and influence. Clear guidelines about how to market with -- not through -- other demand-side functions, such as sales, R&D, and the corporate or business unit marketing departments, are essential to success. At one company, a blend of formal and informal linkage mechanisms includes weekly videoconferences among key stakeholders in any decision. "It's critical to be clear about what you own, what is matrixed, and what you need to informally influence," said the chief of U.S. marketing for a global corporation.

One pitfall for CMOs is letting the pressure of the "urgent" at the business unit level drive out the "important" at the corporate level. "Business-related marketing issues should be the business units' call, but if it has to do with people and capabilities, the CMO decides," the CMO of an industrial products company told us.

4. Drive a marketing capability agenda. One of the major findings of our study is that CEOs are asking much more of marketing, particularly in the area of capability development. Moving the organization ever closer to true ROI marketing capabilities -- an approach that blends data gathering and evaluation, decision rights, implementation, and outcome-based organizational adaptability, all toward the goal of more profitable sales -- will provide marketers with credibility, support, and increased leverage.

5. Take risks -- come up with the big ideas. Yes, establishing decision rights is essential and building ROI capabilities is critical. But sometimes you've got to stick your neck out. Several of our study participants say marketing needs to get more comfortable in taking risks. They see their role not simply as supporting but as coming up with the big ideas that can really make a fundamental impact on the fortunes of the company. "Marketing needs to figure out how to balance the big, innovative ideas with the sustaining ideas," said a CPG company's senior vice president of marketing.

Marketing, it's clear, cannot concern itself simply with brand identity guidelines, good television commercials, and rising awareness scores. "Marketing is about building new businesses, finding the white space, and leading the integration across the organization with sales and R&D," said the senior vice president of marketing at a global food company. In the end, nothing will collectively build the credibility and legitimacy of a CMO more than standing on the front line, leading the charge in support of the CEO's agenda.

About the Marketing Organization Study

In 2004, the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) and Booz Allen Hamilton launched a study to determine the relevance of marketing, marketing departments, and chief marketing officers (whether they operate under that title or another) in today's business climate. The first phase of the ANA/Booz Allen Hamilton Study of Marketing Organizations was conducted from June to September 2004. Three hundred seventy respondents from more than 100 companies in nine industries completed a confidential survey of 20 questions. Nearly half of the respondents -- 45 percent -- hold corporate marketing positions, and 39 percent are in divisional marketing roles. The remaining 16 percent of respondents represent a wide variety of staff and line positions. The survey findings were supplemented and supported by in-depth interviews across multiple companies and industries. The industries represented were auto, consumer packaged goods, financial services, health, manufacturing, professional services, retail, technology, and telecommunications.

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  1. “The Customer-Centric Organization: From Pushing Products to Winning Customers,” Booz Allen Hamilton, August 2004; Click here. 
  2. Leslie H. Moeller, Sharat K. Mathur, and Randall Rothenberg, “The Better Half: The Artful Science of ROI Marketing,” s+b, Spring 2003; Click here.
  3. Gary Neilson, Bruce A. Pasternack, and Decio Mendes, “The Four Bases of Organizational DNA,” s+b, Winter 2003; Click here.
  4. Kenneth C. Bator, “Why Marketing Should Report to the CEO,” ABA Bank Marketing, Jan.–Feb. 2004, Click here. 
  5. Philip Kotler, “Marketing and the CEO: Why CEOs Are Fed Up with Marketing,” Strategy, May 3, 2004
  6. Don E. Schultz, “Marketing Gets No Respect in the Boardroom,” Marketing News, November 24, 2003
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