Should Business Strategy And Marketing Strategy Sleep In Separate Beds?

Orginally published on on February 17, 2016 By Paul Talbot
Should Business Strategy And Marketing Strategy Sleep In Separate Beds_2Photographer: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg
What does it actually take for business strategy and marketing strategy to get along?
Why do the two so often seem estranged, careening toward irreconcilable differences?
Even in an organization focused on weaving business strategy and marketing strategy together, the relationship can be awkward.
One of the common reasons why is that the relationship between marketing and the rest of the business has never been consummated.
Two strategies wind up sleeping in separate beds.
Should they?
“Marketing strategy and business strategy effectively coexist as interdependent forces,” says Michael Houston, CEO Grey North America.
“One cannot be sustained without the other. Both must pivot off a real or perceived consumer need. However, they may diverge slightly relative to how they address these needs.”
But from Houston’s vantage point, there comes a time when the two may stray.
“For instance, a business strategy may look singularly at the number of absolute sales needed to generate desired financial goals, while an effective marketing strategy may dive deeper as it addresses the complexity of interactions with a brand, from purchase behavior to the role of influencers.”
Defining Strategic Objectives
If the role of business strategy is to identify what consumers want, the role of marketing strategy is to define the approach for effective campaigns to be executed.
This scenario suggests more than a casual relationship.
“Marketing is in service of the overall business strategy and CMOs should take comfort in knowing that they probably understand the needs, desires and motivations of their valued consumers more so than those simply crunching the numbers,” says Houston.
“Moreover, CMOs should help business leaders understand that effective marketing strategy turns singular sales transactions into deeper brand relationships that yield repeat purchase behavior.”
“Marketing strategy is completely intertwined with business strategy,” says Puneet Manchanda, Area Chair, Marketing at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business.
“Unless a firm has a clear marketing strategy, it cannot claim to have a business strategy.”
This degree of clarity is not always illuminated by the strategy itself. More likely it comes from people, leaders who see eye to eye on the importance of marketing.
This means the CMO who makes an effective case for an appropriate allocation of resources to marketing paints a detailed financial picture.
“The CMO’s best tool to convince the CEO is ROI,” says Manchanda. “Ideally the evidence should comprise hard numbers or metrics (but it can also be qualitative). This has the additional benefit of bringing key figures like the CFO on board as well, by making the language of marketing transparent and universal.”
Professor Manchanda advocates another tactic that can align business strategy and marketing strategy.
“Get all the members in the C-Suite in front of the customer. This can be done via participating in sales calls, perusing social media data, watching/interacting with the customer in their place of business, etc. This is usually an eye-opener for folks.”
How Marketing Strategy Strengthens Business Strategy
The value unfolds through short-term sales and the long-term cultivation of a more rewarding customer relationship.
Should Business Strategy And Marketing Strategy Sleep In Separate BedsPaul Talbot
I write about how marketing strategy can stray from business strategy.
I’m President of Southport Harbor, a copywriting and marketing strategy boutique based in Coronado, California. Before sunrise each morning, before I head next door to write copy at a table by the window in the empty bar of the Hotel del Coronado, I read a great ad. My favorite is “Down From Canada.” Written by George Cecil for Canada Dry Ginger Ale in 1923, the ad worked so well two new bottling plants were built to meet the demand it created. I am a somewhat reformed ex-media business executive, with tours of duty at AOL, CBS Radio, and Nationwide Communications. I’m a fan of F. Scott Fitzgerald, the Boston Red Sox, the Principality of Liechtenstein, fried clams, fog, and prices that end in the number 7.