Who should own organic growth in your company?

by os_admin

First let’s ask a simpler question...Who ‘owns’ organic growth in your company today? If you took a water cooler survey, chances are most people would say ‘the CEO’. Okay, but the CEO ‘owns’ everything. So let’s confront the basic question...which function should own organic growth?

Unfortunately, most CEO’s especially B2B CEO’s, probably can’t give an immediate coherent answer to that question. Some might say sales; some might say R&D; and a few might answer ‘our corporate strategy VP’. Unfortunately, few would answer ‘marketing’. That’s a sad commentary on the loss of relevance that the marketing function has suffered recently.

Our point of view is that in virtually all companies, the function that should own organic growth on a day to day basis is Marketing. That’s not MarComm ...it’s Marketing.

Why? Because organic growth starts with understanding customers and their needs, especially their unmet needs. And understanding customers and their needs is the historic capability of Marketing. If these two statements are accurate (customer needs are the source of growth and marketing is best at understanding those needs), then the marketing function should own growth in virtually every company.

Of course other functions have critical roles to play in driving growth.

R&D or operations must develop the new product or service that meets the need.

Sales must sell it to the customer.

Finance must help with developing the costing and pricing model.

But, the original source of all growth rests in customers and their unmet needs. That is what marketing should discover and champion within the company. Moreover , marketing needs to play a critical role in developing the sales pitch with sales and the pricing model with Finance because marketing understands customer motivations and the competitive value equation in the customer’s mind.

In other words, the customer should be at the center of every company (the customer is boss!) And marketing is the customer’s internal champion, the lead internal collaborator in helping other functions meet the customer needs that marketing is responsible for articulating.

Even if a company invests the growth responsibility in a Strategy VP, it is the marketing mindset, the marketing approach and discipline, which that ‘strategist’ must use to drive organic growth. By marketing approach we mean,

  • Understanding the company’s current customer holistically, (who are they , what are they buying, where and when are they buying, what need does the product or service fulfill, and what other needs or related need are poorly met).
  • Segmenting the overall customer set by needs to understand which are underserved or completely unserved.
  • Creating a value proposition to appeal to the target segment
  • Aligning all elements of the product and service bundle to deliver the value proposition
  • Assembling the supporting components of the marketing mix to create awareness and trial of the new product or service.

But if you really want to answer the question ‘who owns growth? once and for all, why don’t you simply take down the sign that says ‘the Marketing Department’ and replace it with one that says ‘the Growth Department’. Then everyone will know who owns growth.