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Brad VanAuken Branding: Just Ask...

When The Value Of Marketing Is Questioned

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Brand Strategy Brand Leadership

Today on Branding Strategy Insider, another question from the BSI Emailbag. Rachael, a brand marketer in Dallas, Texas asks: 

“The 130-employee B2B company I work for recently created virtual "think-tank centers" (four to date) that serve different industry sectors. Each carries its own identity under the parent umbrella, and I've ensured that the parent-child relationship of the brands is cohesive. Here's the issue: I am the only marketing manager on staff; I have no support team; and my annual marketing budget is small (<150k). With such limited resources, I simply cannot do any of the brands justice. 

I have approached the executive team several times over the last year to make the case for added headcount and budget, and have gotten nowhere. Beyond that, I have asked them to prioritize; something they've been unable/unwilling to do. The company has an Old Boys Club mentality and an overall lack of appreciation for marketing and branding. Advice?”

Rachael, thank you for asking this question. I am certain there are many others who are dealing with similar issues in their organizations. In fact, I have consulted for many technology-related firms run by scientists and engineers. Certainly most of my college classmates at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute were future scientists and engineers. I have found that many scientists, engineers and finance and operations professionals view marketing as a soft skill that lacks the rigor of other disciplines and that it deserves less attention and investment. In fact, when I was the marketing vice president at Element K, our finance vice president told me to my face (shortly after my arrival there from Hallmark) that he thought marketing was "overhead" that should be managed to reduce costs because it "added no value." 

Strong brands have a huge impact on the success of organizations. While researching the benefits of building strong brands for my book Brand Aid I compiled the list below. It is based on empirical studies from a variety of sources.

Benefits of Building Strong Brands

1. Increased revenues and market share

2. Decreased price sensitivity

3. Increased customer loyalty

4. Additional leverage with vendors and retailers (for manufacturers)

5. Increased profitability

6. Increased stock price, shareholder value and sale value

7. Increased clarity of vision

8. Increased ability to mobilize an organization's people and focus its activities

9. Increased ability to expand into new product and service categories

10. Increased ability to attract and retain high quality employees

I encourage you to share this list with them as well as these four posts.

However, here is my advice to you. Offer to achieve very specific goals (increased lead generation, increased market share, increased customer loyalty, etc.) in return for funding specific marketing activities. That is, pitch your needs in terms of investment, "If you give me this, I will achieve this on behalf of the brand or company." This makes marketing seem less soft and less like a cost center with no measurable return. If this does not work for you, involve the people who are making the marketing investment decisions to a much greater degree in what you are considering doing so that they can begin to see at a more detailed level what you intend to do, how you intend to do it, what it could achieve on behalf of the organization and what it would cost. Their active involvement in your activities will help them better understand how you and marketing are adding value to the organization. It also increases their personal investment in what you are proposing. Asking for their help and insight also plays to their egos and to their perceptions of themselves as helpful managers and mentors. Lastly, an outside party can be a valuable ally in penetrating and transforming the Old Boys Club. We touched on that here.

Let us know how it turns out Rachael.

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1 Comment

John Ford on April 20th, 2012 said

Certainly the most vulnerable — or soon to be most vulnerable brands are run by those with this mentality. I wish my competitor thought like this — we would bring them to their knees.

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