In many organizations, the corporate marketing function has lost budget, head count, influence and confidence, resulting in strategic consequences that run deeper than many senior managers may realize. The question is not how to rebuild the marketing center, but how to disperse marketing competenceacross the organization.
In many companies, there has been a marked fall-off in the influence, stature and significance of the corporate marketing department. Today, marketing is often less of a corporate function and more a diaspora of skills and capabilities spread across the organization. By itself, the disintegration of the marketing center is not a cause for concern, argue the authors, but the decline of core marketing competence certainly is.
For this article, the authors undertook a series of in-depth interviews with leading marketing executives and chief executive officers to clarify the root causes of the decline. Their research identifies eight distinct factors that contribute to marketing’s waning influence — among them a worrying “short-termism,” significant shifts in channel power and marketing’s inability to document its contribution to business results. The consequences are not immediate, but they are far-reaching: Absent a core of marketing competence, say the authors, the corporate brand will suffer, product innovation will weaken, and prices will be less robust.
However, the fact that marketing does continue to influence corporate strategy in some companies suggests there are opportunities and viable approaches for building marketing competence as a source of competitive advantage. The article suggests four key issues facing marketing management, placing the focus not on restoration of the corporate marketing function but on the rebuilding of marketing competence across the organization.