We often talk about the value of Marketing. To play a strategic, indispensable role Marketing needs to be valuable. Does it seem like I’m splitting hairs? These two words may seem similar but the meaning is not. The dictionary tells us that “value” is the degree to which something is useful or estimable. Something that is valuable, on the other hand, is something that is precious and of great worth, and therefore important. The distinction is important because while value may be appreciated, it may not be necessary or important. Something that is valuable, however, is something that is of great importance, utility or service; it is essential to the working of the organization. Valuable is indispensable. Valuable organizations participate in the decision-making process.

While every Marketing organization wants to be useful, who also wouldn’t want to be considered indispensable? Here’s an illustration of the idea. When you collect and analyze data to understand customer purchasing patterns, create a new piece of content, or execute an email campaign, your leadership team may value the work. But that doesn’t always mean it is considered valuable. There are serious implications to being valued but not valuable. Valued organizations will be given some resources (people and cash) to continue to be productive, but additional resources are harder to come by, may require more justification, or worse, can be taken away. It probably goes without saying, if a Marketing organization isn’t even perceived to be of value, it won’t be long before that organization sees budget cuts and headcount reductions. If the organization could ultimately operate without Marketing’s work product, it may be valued, but not valuable.

While every Marketing organization wants to be useful, who also wouldn’t want to be considered indispensable?

6 Ways to Make Your Marketing Organization More Valuable

If you want to secure and keep your Marketing budget, focus on being valuable. Art Petty, an author and teacher on management and leadership, asserts that people and functions are more valuable when they are aligned to the leadership priorities, help mitigate or eliminate problems, bring recommendations to the table, and build bridges across the organization. Using these ideas, and others gleaned from CMOs in best-in-class Marketing organizations, we’ve crafted a list of 6 ways to make your Marketing organization indispensable.

  1. Alignment: Focus the work of Marketing around the priorities and the outcomes of the organization. Be clear about what constitutes success and be sure the Marketing plan, team, investments, and programs are all synced up to these outcomes. What you do needs to matter and make a difference to the business. It’s not the quantity of your to-do list or how many of the items you complete that makes you a valuable marketer or employee. Being able to make good decisions about what’s important and prioritizing work so that what you are tackling will demonstrate that you know what is valuable to the company. Look for opportunities where your work will improve customer satisfaction and experience, create money for the company such as accelerating customer acquisition or grow customer share of wallet, and save the organization money.
  2. Accountability: Be able to quantify the value of the work of Marketing to the leadership team in measures and metrics that matter to the C-Suite.
  3. Anticipate: Marketing needs to be about more than execution of demand generation and branding programs. A valuable Marketing organization has the periscope up at all times in order to help the organization anticipate competitors’ moves, customer requirements, industry trends, and market changes. Listen and learn about customers and bring insights to the table that will help the leadership team navigate the market. Valuable Marketing organizations have a cadence of collecting and sharing critical information that the leadership needs for decision-making.
  4. Forge alliances. Marketers and Marketing cannot operate as a silo or see itself as merely a service center for sales. Marketers have a tendency to be head down in tactics. According to the Corporate Executive Board (CEB) research, only 40% of employees work with more than 20 people on a given day, and more than 80% only work with 10. Your network needs to expand beyond other marketers or the Sales team. Build bridges with members of the business, operations, finance, and IT teams as well as externally. External relationships enable Marketing to bring in an outside-in view of the market, competition and industry. Find ways to develop more contacts and expand your network. Give your network reasons to want to work with you versus someone else.
  5. Serve as a trusted advisor. To be a trusted advisor, your leadership team needs to have confidence that you and your team have the experience, training, knowledge, and expertise to support the business. You know Marketing is a trusted advisor when the leadership team brings Marketing into decision-making discussions early and turns to Marketing for input on general business issues and specific customer issues.
  6. Be a change agent. Your organization must constantly adapt and adjust to the market, competitors and customers. Take the lead on embracing change and helping the organization make change a positive process.

Each of these is important to tackle – the security of your organization and its budget is riding on it. Completing your own work and solving problems within your own function provides value. If you want to be valuable it will take more than hard work and effort.