A popular topic in recent marketing news is confusion within organizations, particularly among the C-Suite, about the role and importance of marketing strategy teams and their leadership. Harvard Business Review recently published an article (“The New Pressures Facing CMOs and How to Overcome Them”) based on a study by Spencer Stuart that shows an alarming number of Chief Marketing Officers were fired in 2018. Keith Ferrazzi, the article’s author, suggests that confusion around four primary areas is contributing to this disturbing trend.


The areas cited are Brand, Product/Direct Marketing, Data Analytics, and Sales Support. Each is important. Each involves a different focus and set of needs. Most CMOs are experts in one or two, but Ferrazzi is quick to point out that no one CMO can successfully handle them all alone. Most tend to focus on the ones they know best, but the reality is that they’re responsible for all of them. That’s where solid teamwork comes into play.


The key for all marketers is understanding the right mix for their organization before aligning resources, plans, and budget. We need to put careful thought into building the right teams and asking for the right input to make our brand visions a reality: Successful marketing is a partnership, not an individual sport. And if the organizations we’re working for don’t understand how we’re working to build our brand, how can we expect them to estimate our value?


Doing this can be easier said than done. I get it. I’ve been there in-house, and I’ve seen clients struggle to navigate these waters. There are hierarchies in place. Different teams have different priorities. The bottom line is it’s still your job to deliver a strategy that fuels growth and guides your brand to success.


To truly be effective, there are two critical issues you need to address when tackling marketing strategy for your organization. The first is understanding how your brand looks from an internal perspective. Do employees really understand the company’s mission? Do they know how their individual roles play a part? And, equally, if not more important, is understanding how you look through the eyes of your customers. Do they know what you stand for? Are you meeting an unmet need for them?


Tamsen Webster spoke recently through the American Marketing Association on the topic of irresistible ideas. She said, “Great ideas are built, not found.” I couldn’t agree more. It takes time. It takes commitment. And it takes a new level of candor in order to yield creative collaboration that will create change and growth. Invite your partners and customers into the planning process and be open to their input. Have the difficult conversations and be ready to work on what you hear.


Being honest with yourself, your partners, and your team about your mission, your strategy and your message is pivotal to making sure your organization and your customers understand where your brand is headed. And it’s vital to navigating the current choppy waters of marketing success.


Lauren Sweeney is the Founder and CEO of Dotted Line Collaborations, a full-service marketing agency solving big brand problems from our headquarters in Richmond, Virginia. When Lauren’s not providing strategic direction for the firm or delivering results for our clients, Lauren is outdoors enjoying all that Richmond has to offer or traveling to a new and exciting destination.