What is marketing leadership?

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Doing marketing isn’t the same as leading marketing—and executives who master the art of leading marketing outperform the ones who don’t.

After many years of working closely with leading marketers, and through Patrick Barwise’s and my large-scale research for The 12 Powers of a Marketing Leader, we have established a clear picture of what it takes to succeed in marketing. High-impact marketers aren’t just customer gurus or advertising wizards; although these people know how to do marketing, the world’s most successful marketers know how to lead marketing.

Doing marketing isn’t the same as leading marketing. So what’s the difference?

Doing marketing is all about mastering technical skills like promotion and pricing. Unsurprisingly, many marketers score high when it comes to doing marketing.

Leading marketing, however, is a much broader task. It’s about helping the organization maximize the Value Creation Zone (V-Zone for short)—the crucial overlap between customer and company needs.

The V-Zone is a moving target. On the customer side, expanding the V-Zone means continuously understanding customer needs and ensuring that customers recognize why the company’s products and services are better than what competitors have to offer. On the company side, expanding the V-Zone requires knowing what the organization needs—in the CEO’s view—and mobilizing the many colleagues who don’t report to the marketer in order to create great customer experiences.

Whereas doing marketing means mobilizing customers, leading marketing means knowing how to mobilize bosses, colleagues, teams, and oneself to improve the end-to-end customer experience.

Marketing Leadership

The Four Dimensions of Marketing Leadership

Mobilize your Boss. Claiming your seat at the top table requires skill and focus. Success in marketing starts with a top-management perspective—a view on what’s important for customers and for the organization’s most senior leaders.

Mobilize your Colleagues. Most marketers don’t have everybody else reporting to them. That’s why, to get anything done, they must know how to mobilize their colleagues—including the many people who don’t report to them.

Mobilize your Team. World-class marketing is, of course, still about great product development, pricing, or advertising. Initially, marketers execute marketing tasks themselves. But sooner or later, they must learn how to build, align, and mobilize a team with the right combination of technical, creative, and interpersonal skills to deliver the brand strategy.

Mobilize Yourself. Mobilizing bosses, colleagues, and teams is exciting. But it’s also hard work. Especially when combined with the relentless time and budget pressure in today’s organizations, the process of mobilization can be demanding. That’s why marketing leaders must aim high and continuously find ways to mobilize themselves— to keep going when things get tough.

These four marketing leadership dimensions complement what marketers are already doing every day: mobilizing customers!

Here’s some good news: almost everyone can learn these critical marketing leadership skills. In our large-scale global research, we found that personality matters very little when it comes to a marketing leader’s success. Every marketer can start on this journey straight away.

Source: The 12 Powers of a Marketing Leader, Barta/Barwise

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