The marketing director guide

Is your marketing director leading or following? Does it matter? A few thoughts.

Jobs that are as different as their companies

Just as no two companies are exactly alike, the marketing function at every company is somewhat different. I’ve worked with dozens of marketing directors, and no two have exactly the same job. The position seems to vary from company to company far more than sales director, finance director or IT director. Why?

A few predictable factors, and a few less predictable, determine the scope of the marketing director position. Predictable factors: the industry in which the company competes, the preexisting internal marketing organization (if any), and the size and history of the company. Less predictable: the personality and expertise of the marketing director and other senior management, and quirks of the business plan — often undocumented.

And, while any effective marketing plan has to be built on a solid foundation of understanding the customer, most often the problem can be solved in a number of ways.

In the end, “marketing” is more a reflection of the unique soul of a company than any other function. Some companies are marketing-oriented, and others are sales-only zones, unfriendly to any efforts that don’t seem designed to add to short-term results.

As a result, the marketing director position is likely to be unique at any company. And that’s before personality, style come into play and level of experience come into play.

A work always in progress

All marketing directors have limitations. I can’t think of any marketing director — even the best — who does it all, and does it well. (If you’re an exception, please tell me about it.) The key is to recognize any limitations, and address them intelligently. A marketing director has to surround herself with resources that can execute in areas where she doesn’t have the perfect skill set. Not every individual will know everything there is to know about managing databases, conducting research, developing strategy or executing creative. Understanding the objectives and managing resources should make up for a lack in any one area.

As I tried to compile an idealized list of marketing director responsibilities, I realized why there are so many book on marketing and branding. The job is what you make it.

I started this list as a reference for site visitors, my clients and myself. It includes areas where the marketing director should lead, and some specific things he/she should be able to do. 

The list isn’t final by any means. A complete list is probably impossible, because technology and methodology keep changing. So please send recommendations on what you think is important, and I’ll update the list whenever doing so improves it.

The list

1. Communication strategy

This is the strategy for determining the most compelling, most powerful messages. The Marketing Director should lead the development, facilitate input and drive consensus from key stakeholders. Communications strategy should include:

  • Positioning, including definitions of
    Company core competency, core values, vision and mission
    Practical and emotional needs of existing and potential customers

    Competition and its relationship with the company’s customers
    A positioning statement that takes into account the company’s products, vision and mission; the customers’ needs; and the competition. The positioning statement should demonstrate “how we’re different.”            
  • Value propositions, for brands and products
    Define the value of products and services, using real numbers and case studies wherever possible
    – Compare your value to the cost of using competitive products/methods 
  • Key messages for corporate, brands, products, lines, etc
    Benefits first
    Features second
  • Refine brand strategy:
    Develop and maintain the organization of brand systems
    Define brand look and voice
    Create comprehensive list of brand-to-customer touchpoints
  • Research: Ongoing efforts to understand
    Customers’ practical and emotional needs
    Current brand image
    Competition’s image and initiatives
  • Present findings/strategies internally
    Executive management
    Board of directors
    Key staff

2. Marketing program

Plan a program to support the company’s business goals

  • Define/articulate long-term, strategic goals
    Segments/industries to serve
    Define revenue goals
    Define market-share goals
  • Define/articulate short-term, tactical objectives
    Short-term sales goals
    Short-term market-share objectives
    Tactical opportunities
    Particular accounts/customers
    Awareness objectives
  • Catalog all touchpoints               
  • Manage strategic databases               
  • Create/rationalize budget
    How many customers/how much revenue is needed?
    What is the expected cost per customer acquisition?
    Compare/contrast previous budgets
    Project ROI for spending
  • Devise programs to achieve objectives and support goals
    Evaluate current programs
    Evaluate new opportunities
    Choose complementary “best of” elements
    Schedule program
    Manage budget
    Execute programs elements in alignment with communication strategies
    Implement internal branding initiatives
    Create “living document”; changes should be made based on measured effectiveness, new information

3. Marketing deliverables

Manage internal and external resources to deliver materials/projects that follow strategy and fulfill marketing objectives

  • Manage all touchpoints
    Visual identity
    Tone of voice
    Apply key messages
  • Advertising in its many forms
    Direct mail/email
  • Public relations
    Regular press releases
    Press relations
    Manage PR firm
  • Websites
    Update site as needed
    Use site to complement all marketing efforts
  • Collateral/sales materials
    Update all collateral and sales materials
    Create new materials as needed
  • Trade show
    Identify and evaluate shows
    Create show presence
    Create plan and support materials for each show
  • Events
    Identify and evaluate event opportunities
    Marketing plan for each event
  • Manage agencies and other vendors
    PR firm
    Ad agency
    Interactive agency
    Specialty firms
  • Measure results               
  • Adjust programs or approaches as needed               
  • Keep records to add to institutional knowledge               

4. Build internal marketing team

  • In-house creative capability
  • In-house interactive capability               
  • Managers for specific programs such as lead acquisition
* * *
That’s it as of now. Please send your suggestions.
– Barrett Rossie

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