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Marketing is a Revenue Generator, Not a Cost Center

By: Elaine Fogel

 

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“Marketing is a Revenue Generator—NOT a Cost Center!” If you’ve been involved in marketing for any length of time, it’s likely that you’ve heard something like this before.

 
I can’t count how many times I’ve sat in on meetings where I felt compelled to defend my marketing budget. “It’s an investment in growth,” I said, as the others on the senior management team rolled their eyes.
 
Does nothing change???
 
The Economist Intelligence Unit’s newest study, “The rise of the marketer: Driving engagement, experience and revenue,” found that “business owners view marketing both as revenue drivers (69% agree, 19% strongly) and cost centers (68% agree, 26% strongly). At most companies, the business owners know that marketing drives revenue, but the view that marketing is a cost is just as widespread.”
 
 
Huh? Can it be both?
 
Over the next 3-5 years, respondents expect that the marketing function will migrate from the cost side of the ledger to the revenue side. And, what will drive that? Several things…
 
  1. Marketers need to demonstrate their contributions and abilities to drive revenue more internally. “If you aggressively pursue an agenda of accountability and transparency, then you’ll be viewed as a trusted partner and adviser,” said John Dragoon, CMO of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, one of the interviewees.
  2. Marketers need to win customers at any touchpoint, making the customer experience paramount to driving leads and revenue. Yet, today, two-thirds of marketers polled say they are not responsible for managing the customer experience. This will change “as consumers gain power and become less reliant on sales, [and] the marketing function is increasingly orchestrating relationships.”
  3. Companies will need specialists to manage and shape customer-centric cross-channel and cross-business strategies. “Even if marketing doesn’t have sole accountability, it is first among equals in making sure everyone understands their role in creating touchpoints that are differentiated, consistent and outstanding,” adds Dragoon.
 
So, what type marketing leaders can fit this new role? What skills do they need?
 
  1. Coming in at number one is marketing operations at 39%.
  2. Technology and digital engagement is #2, also at 39%.
  3. Strategy and planning is #3 at 38%.
 
What I find fascinating is that creative and graphics skills came in last at 16%. Even though science is winning out, isn’t the creative side as important?
 
If not for the creative and graphic presentation of any marketing campaign, how would businesses attract customers in the first place? So much for our right brains ruling the future. (Sorry, Dan Pink.)
 
What do you think? Will marketing be viewed more as a revenue generator in the next few years?
 
This article was originally published by Elaine Fogel
Published: March 2, 2015
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Elaine Fogel

Elaine Fogel is a marketing, branding, and customer experience evangelist, professional speaker, and author of Beyond Your Logo: 7 Brand Ideas That Matter Most For Small Business Success. People in 100+ countries regularly read her blog, Totally Uncorked on Marketing and her articles have appeared in many publications.

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