Is 2016 the Year Marketing Gets a Seat at the Adult Table?

by EMM Group

Do you remember what it was like when you were a little kid going to a family dinner for a special occasion? All the adults got to sit around the big dining room table talking, laughing, and clinking glasses while you and a couple of your cousins were stuck at “the kiddie table.”

Sure, when you were 6 or 7 years old, that was great because you could goof around and have fun without Mom or Dad looking over your shoulder. But when you’re 13 or 14, it suddenly starts feeling a little uncomfortable being stuck at the kiddie table watching all the adults converse from afar.

Unfortunately, in a lot of companies these days, Vice Presidents and Directors of Marketing find themselves at “the kiddie table” in the board room. Their budgets are first to get cut in a pinch, they’re dismissed as a cost center instead of a revenue center, their opinions aren’t sought out, and they feel stuck in the corner, pressured to achieve results in a difficult marketplace with limited resources.

If that’s you, let’s work together to make 2016 the year you break the mold and get a seat at the adult table!

Why does Marketing get left out so often?

It’s not fair or accurate, but there’s a perception in many organizations that the Marketing team is expendable.

After all, businesses can’t possibly survive without Sales – that’s where revenue comes from. Without Operations, work would grind to a halt. Without HR, the people accomplishing the work would be helpless. But Marketing? Well, technically, the business could survive – at least for a time – if the whole department disappeared. So, they’re expendable, right?

In reality, this is a dangerous attitude for any organization with a desire to grow in a highly competitive landscape. But that’s a topic for another day. The question now is, what can marketers do about it?

What does it take for Marketing to get a seat at the table?

Since the existing perception in many companies is that Marketing is of lesser value to the organization than other teams, it’s up to marketers to prove their value to the organization and earn that seat.

Here are some encouraging tips for making that happen:

  • Prove your value: If you’re not already, start immediately setting up systems to closely measure your marketing goals and tactics so that your successes can be linked realistically with tangible benefits to the company. (Most importantly, revenue.)
  • Think and act collaboratively: To get to the point where other VPs and Directors are actively seeking your opinions and insight, they’ll need to get to know you first and learn to respect and appreciate what you have to offer. Start by getting them involved in what Marketing is up to and soliciting their views when appropriate. Develop relationships built on mutual trust and respect.
  • Get the CEO behind you: No single factor will make or break a marketing team’s chances of establishing equality in the board room more than the support of the CEO. If your top dog is marketing-minded to begin with, you just need to establish the relationship and prove your value to him or her personally. If they’re not marketing-minded, this may be an uphill battle requiring a lot more convincing, but it will be worth it.
  • Perform like you belong there (or fake it till you make it): This is primarily about your own attitude – do you really believe that you and your team deserve a seat at the table? Then act like it’s a given (without being arrogant) and perform like you belong there. Be prepared and present for every meeting; volunteer educated opinions and suggestions on agenda items; don’t waffle or downplay input regarding Marketing.

So is 2016 going to be the year you finally get Marketing away from “the kiddie table” and into a position of equal impact in the organization?

That’s up to you. But we can help.

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Keywords: Go-To-Market, Team Capability Building