Marketing’s Ability to Create Value

Changes in the marketing profession suggest a need to focus on purposeful experiences for our clients.

Experiences book coverAt some point in our careers, we’ve all felt undervalued and that we had more to offer, if only… One of the missions of SMPS and NERC is to give marketers the skills, knowledge, relationships, and confidence to step beyond the role of the marketer in the past and transform their organizations as business leaders.

The PROFESSION module of the MERGE conference content will focus on the changing role of marketing, not just in the AEC industry, but everywhere. Author, Speaker, and Storyteller, Carla Johnson of Type A Communications, will kick off this module with a ‘MERGE Moment’ about creating a customer-first marketing mindset that creates engaging experiences for customers. This is just one example of how Carla believes marketers have the ability, and even the responsibility, to step out of their comfort zones and transition from a tactical marketer role to a strategic business leader role.

Marketing is changing

As we all know, marketing is changing. We keep hearing about new technologies, the multi-generational workforce, talent shortages, squeezes on profitability, on and on. With all this going on, the marketer’s role is shifting from one who implements someone else’s strategies, to one who influences those strategies. As noted in the SMPS Foundation’s Fellows Survey, “Marketers need to not only be identifiers of change, but also be given more strategic roles in their firms to be internal agents of change.”

Carla’s book, Experiences: The 7th Era of Marketing, notes a 2013 Forrester Research study about the expanding role of marketing. “Ninety-seven percent of marketers said they expect the pace of change in marketing to accelerate, and 76% felt their leadership evaluates success or failure more rapidly than ever before. Other findings included: 21% say the skills for which they were hired are now obsolete; 97% see a dramatic increase in the breadth of marketing skills needed; 97% are doing things they’ve never done before; and 45% can’t find marketing candidates with the right skills.”

So, what does this mean for us now?

We must earn our seat at the table

In order to become valued business leaders, marketers must prove that we understand the strategy of our entire organization. The 7th Era of Marketing references research by The Fournaise Marketing Group which found that “73% of CEOs think marketing lacks credibility. In contrast, 69% of marketers think their strategies and campaigns have an impact – they just don’t know how to prove it.” This is a striking difference – how can we, as marketers, help change this perception?

Bringing value to an organization as a marketer requires bold strategies, the comfort to test new ideas, and courage to think unconventionally. Carla Johnson suggests, “Great marketers step beyond their areas of responsibility and transform their organizations. They spend a great deal of time understanding the operational and financial details of their company, while immersing themselves in the world of their customer, gaining insights and perspectives. They’re perpetually curious, which makes it easier to transition from a tactical marketing role to that of a trusted advisor, and strategic partner at the executive level.”

And with this new role, how can we bring even more value?

Create content that focuses on purpose

For most of the past two decades, the focus has been on relationships. The basic approach has been the more you help someone else and the more interactions you have, the stronger the relationship will be. Deeper relationships would result in better opportunities and business outcomes. The 7th Era of Marketing suggests that, while this won’t go away, it will become secondary to the experiences that are created. For marketers, this requires a client-first mindset when developing content, so that it communicates purpose.

As Carla Johnson puts it, “Marketers who first focus on ‘purpose’ ultimately engage, delight, and inspire customers.” This suggests that instead of marketers creating content that just describes the value of their service, we must transition into visioning and leading the creation of valuable experiences for our clients.  It is through these experiences that we can differentiate our companies. This will transform an industry like ours where many companies provide the same services and have similar experience and expertise.

Join Carla Johnson for Thursday afternoon’s MERGE Moment to learn more about how we as marketers can lead our companies to a differentiated future through a strategic role focused on client experiences. And if you haven’t already read Carla’s book, Experiences: The 7th Era of Marketing, here are some highlights to get you excited to MERGE with her.


Have ideas on how we marketers can help our firms become high-performing ones? We invite you to start a discussion in the conference LinkedIn group.