role of marketing

Here is a scenario many of you can relate to: you’re fresh out of university and ready to start your Marketing career. You research industries you’d like to work in, and companies you’d like to work for. You are excited to start your career and many job descriptions sound enticing, but you’re not really sure what you kind of environment you are getting into.

How do you ensure you don’t end up in a role that doesn’t match personality, skills and aspirations?

At different firms, Marketing comes in different flavors. For some companies the role of Marketing is as main driver of growth and profitability; for others Marketing is a cost center, a department meant to support the Sales team.

This article explores three typical Marketing roles that coexist in today’s business environment, including tasks, performance metrics and expectations. In a way, these environments reflect Marketing’s profound transformation, from a cost to a revenue center. The goal is to offer new graduates and experienced marketers some career perspective, by helping define the role that best suits them.

The Classical Marketer

Companies that hire traditional marketers are usually well-established players in their industry, with a history going back at least a few decades. Their products often reach the end user via a network of independent distributors. The go-to-market strategy is to push products and marketing message to distribution, and rely on them to market the brand with their customers.

The role of marketing is to make the company “look good”, often relying on a single employee to be the jack of all (marketing) trades. Here are some common characteristics of the classical marketing department:

  • Marketing is a cost center, often acting as a support department to the Sales team and distribution partners;
  • its role is to make the company “look good” and build a strong brand;
  • Marketing objectives are only vaguely understood by other departments and Management;
  • main tasks include creating marketing, promotional and internal communication materials, new product launches, website updates and maintenance;
  • information on who, why and how the customer is interacting with the brand is very limited;
  • deliverables  are very difficult to track, measure and justify
  • budget is difficult to justify, given the unclear objectives, and almost impossible to increase
  • Sales and Marketing objectives are not aligned

The Lead Generator

Lead generation marketers often work for companies that rely heavily on their Sales force for generating most of the revenue. Companies that sell intangible goods and services, such as real estate, insurance, brokerage, logistics, rely on lead generators to feed Sales with fresh leads.

The Management of these companies understand the benefits of Marketing as a contributor to revenue growth; the challenge is defining the strategies and tactics to accomplish this objective.

Here are some of the responsibilities of the Lead Generator Marketer:

  • Marketing department is a cost center
  • its focus on generating leads for the Sales team; many leads are never acted upon for various reasons: lack of time, lead quality, miscommunication between the two departments;
  • success is more quantifiable, however their impact on the overall business is still difficult to pinpoint
  • deliverables includes number of leads generated, the size of the email database, the number of opens, clicks, and likes, and website traffic indicators;
  • tasks include generating leads at trade shows, via landing pages, contests and other Marketing tactics;
  • distribution support is very important;
  • high degree of distrust between Sales and Marketing.

The Revenue Marketer

Almost all newly-launched digital companies have revenue Marketing as a core strategy. Many established companies operating in more traditional markets have also successfully transitioned the role of Marketing from Sales support to revenue generator.

In this type of business environment, Sales and Marketing are on equal footing; both departments are responsible for generating revenue, though strategies and tactics might differ.

Here are some of the characteristics of the Revenue Marketing department:

  • Marketing department is a revenue center, on equal footing with Sales
  • tasks include opening and managing alternative sales channels for the brand (such as ecommerce), implementing advertising that generates sales, and international expansion
  • deliverables are highly trackable, measurable and quantifiable;
  • budget easy to justify and increase though improved revenue;
  • Sales and Marketing objectives are highly coordinated with the goal of improving the company’s bottom line

Benefits of working in a Revenue Marketer role:

  • the role of Marketing inside an organization becomes pivotal, meaning the marketer is an important member of the strategic team;
  • Marketers can easily justify and increase budgets based on revenue growth;
  • bonuses are tied to Marketing’s direct contribution to revenue, rather than elusive ones such as the number of leads converted by the Sales team.
  • in-depth knowledge of who, how and why customers interact with the brand (direct to consumer relationship).

The difference between traditional and revenue marketers can also be illustrated by the AIDA model: awareness, interest, desire, action.

Traditional marketers are typically responsible for the first two steps in the process: awareness and interest. Once the customer expresses interest in your brand, the lead is passed on to Sales, which in turn is responsible for closing the deal.

The lead generator move one step closer to closing the sale, by generating desire, and moving the customer close to a favorable decision. The Sales department takes over in the last stage (action) when the customer is ready to interact directly to your product or service and make the purchase.

The revenue marketer is responsible for the entire customer journey, from managing the first interactions with the brand until the sale transaction is finalized. Revenue Marketing has been made possible by broad internet availability, and changes in consumer behavior (such as the fact that most of the research is done online)

What About Digital Marketing?

Many of you might be wondering why there is no mention of  digital marketing in the above profiles.

I consider digital marketing a very effective and measurable form of marketing communication; since this article looks at the function of marketing from a strategic perspective, I feel digital marketing does not belong here.

How to Plan Your Next Career Move?

First, you need to decide what type of environment will best allow you to be a successful marketer.

Beyond the obvious research, answering these questions will provide a glimpse into your new role, as a traditional marketer, lead generator or revenue marketer. There is nothing wrong with any of those, as long as the position match your expectations and career objectives:

  • Who does the role report to? If you will be reporting to the VP of Sales, or VP of Sales and Marketing, your tasks will most likely match the classical marketer or lead generator profiles.
  • What is the size of the Marketing department? A one-person Marketing department means you will be the jack of all trades, meaning you will be responsible for all the marketing tasks within the company and you’ll have less opportunity for specialization.
  • What type of company will you be working for? Those of you aiming for a revenue marketer role are best suited promoting products with short sales cycle, such as ecommerce companies that market directly to consumers. If you’re a marketing a complex product, that requires Sales involvement, your role will probably be to create awareness, push the marketing message, and generate leads.
  • Are the company’s Marketing materials in urgent need of a refresh? If the company’s website, and other marketing materials are outdated, you will probably be doing classical marketing activities for some time.

The role of marketing is constantly evolving, and taking the center stage at many businesses. When considering a new Marketing opportunity, be sure to read and fully understand the job description, and company expectations. We spend most of our active hours at our jobs; we might as well do something we enjoy.