This is the first in a series of posts about the three greatest challenges facing marketing organizations in 2018:

  • Becoming more accountable
  • Undergoing a digital transformation
  • Evolving to put the customer experience front-and-center

The first few posts will center on accountability. It would be easy to dive into what KPIs we should have, how to measure them and so forth, but before we go there let’s define what marketers are accountable for in 2018. Analysts report a big gap between the expectations of accountability and the ability to measure it.

76%25 of marketing organizations are accountable for a P&L, but marketing accountability goes beyond just the profit and loss numbers, doesn’t it?

76% of marketing organizations are accountable for a P&L, but marketing accountability goes beyond just the profit and loss numbers, doesn’t it? | Credit: Kevin Joyce

5 Basics of Marketing Accountability

During our lifetimes marketing has been responsible for the following:

  • Gathering customer requirements and defining the product and service set
  • Helping create and retain customers with demand generation programs, events, social, etc.
  • Increasing brand equity
  • Managing technology and channel partners
  • Empowering the sales channels with market data, prospect data, competitive data and sales tools and collateral

With the exception of demand generation, it is difficult to pin revenue contribution on the other responsibilities. However, something else is at play here. Marketing’s role is evolving, and there are areas where we are being held accountable that are not on the list above.

Marketing’s Evolving Role

Organizations have always looked to marketing for help with communications. Marcom was a standard block in every marketing organization chart, and indeed public relations, press releases, creation of collateral, and event management are already included in the five basics listed above. However, the need for customer communication is growing.

The number of channels that customers and prospects use to communicate with us has grown from in person, telephone, fax, and events in the 90s to include: email, chat, a variety of social channels, YouTube, podcast channels, websites, blogs, user forums, etc. And which function in the company is most familiar with and engaged in these channels and technologies? Marketing.

Now, before you dismiss this as just an expansion of channels used in the existing demand generation and brand equity responsibilities listed above, consider this. Companies are using marketing to communicate new customer welcome messages, customer feedback communications, license renewal messages, satisfaction surveys, availability of training videos, programs to increase customer adoption, etc.

These are not demand generation communications, they are communications that are part of the product or service that the company is selling. I.e. Marketing is becoming accountable for delivering part of the service.

Peter Drucker nailed this when he said:

“Marketing is not only much broader than selling, it is not a specialized activity at all. It encompasses the entire business. It is the whole business seen from the point of view of its final result, that is, from the customer’s point of view.”


If your firm is small or mid-sized and has neglected investment in marketing to date, the question expands beyond can the founders understand the role of marketing in offering product marketing and demand generation capabilities. The question becomes do the founders understand marketing’s role to deliver product and services and their ongoing relationship with customers to convert them into loyal advocates. Marketing is taking on responsibility for delivering these parts of the total solution.

Yes, as David Packard once said, “Marketing is too important to be left to the marketing department.” The things we are accountable for extend beyond the bounds of traditional marketing views. We have become part of operations and part of the product and service delivery system because we are masters of communication with customers. We are becoming a service organization to more parts of the firm than ever before, including operations.

Should these marketing capabilities be a center of excellence and centralized in marketing, or do we encourage other parts of the firm to develop their own communications operation? That is a question for another time.


  • Don’t settle for just being accountable for the traditional marketing influenced outcomes.
  • Explore how marketing can contribute to the delivery of the product or service.
  • Recognize that marketing’s assets include communication skills and mastery of the technologies that make it efficient and effective.