Innovation: Politics and the Art of Marketing Objectives


I was recently in an integrated plan review meeting where
the CMO asked a brand manager of a smallish established regional brand “Do you
have enough money in your budget to achieve your objective of increasing brand
penetration?” The answer that the manager gave was “Yes, we have made smart
choices about the best places to invest our funds to get the highest rate of
return.” Everyone nodded their heads and the meeting moved on. I am not sure if
it was only me, but I was thinking he had just answered the wrong question and
missed a great opportunity to get more funding for his penetration goals. Let’s
face it, gaining new shoppers or regaining lapsed users for an established
brand is an expensive proposition. Their budget was small and they had spread
it around to cover some basic program elements but this was not a “robust” plan
by any stretch. The tactics were well thought out enough but there was
certainly room for more activity So why then did he give this answer?

I understand the need for politicking and not wanting to
look bad in front of a C level executive but honestly, do you think he/she is
really looking for another yes man or woman? I sincerely doubt it. With all of
the challenges they are facing managing complex marketing organizations what
they are really looking for are marketers with in-depth knowledge of their
products and consumers combined with a conviction and passion for bringing
their objectives to life. Too often marketers are concerned about giving the
right answers and not concerned enough about challenging conventional thinking
and getting pulled in to corporate group think and meeting minutia. It doesn’t
mean turning every meeting into a soapbox for your brand’s causes, that can get
old too, but it does mean recognizing an opportunity when you have the
attention of the senior most decision makers and provide them with a
perspective that only you can offer.

From where I sit, I have seen a lot of marketing folks get
stuck somewhere in the middle of the pack. Their work is solid, they are smart,
reliable and effective but they stop just short of making themselves standout.
They write objectives that get head nods around the table with all the current
buzz words and goals that any brand would want. These folks often make good
clients in that they are easy to work but fall short when it comes to
championing any single initiative. So the question remains, where is your seat at the table?  Will you be one of the many similar
voices that are quickly forgotten or will you take a chance to find a way to
make yourself and your brand stand apart, and in my mind ahead of the rest of
the field. You may not always get the extra budget, but if you do it well, your
voice may be heard when it come time to make even larger strategic and
organizational decisions.