May 28, 2015

Beyond the C-Suite: Why Every Member of Your Marketing Team Should Be a Decision Maker and Strategist

The C-suite is compromised of the chief delegators, decision makers and assessors within an organization. According to a new study, however, changes must occur regarding the level of influence that the C-suite has on certain divisions, particularly marketing. The recent study, “Beyond the C-Suite: Corporate Communications' Power & Influence,” was conducted  by Marlene Neill, Ph.D., assistant professor of journalism, public relations and new media at Baylor University.

Based on 30 in-depth interviews that Neill conducted with senior executives from Fortune 500 companies, the study found that relying too heavily on the C-suite for decision-making can cause a divide within marketing. "Everybody wants more power and influence, but strategic issues arise at the division level as well as [among] executive-level committees," Neill said.

The marketing executives that Neill interviewed stated that there is a distinct difference in the roles that executive-level teams take verses employees who work under them. They say these roles “justify” their belonging in the C-suite; however, for marketing companies to thrive, managers must embrace a collaborative and open approach with internal employees where responsibilities are more evenly divided. That is, they should be encouraging employees to explore and expand their roles, as well as identify innovative new ways in which they can contribute.

Neill cites one example in the study of how this lack of inclusiveness can affect a marketing team, specifically when it comes to strategic thinking and building successful campaigns. In one marketing company, the corporate communications group was initially excluded from the decision making process concerning a wellness initiative. After an unsuccessful launch, however, the team was invited to contribute. The team provided key messaging for the initiative that led to a significantly higher participation rate.

The bottom line is that strategic divides are often problematic in marketing departments. At the core of strategic thinking is an ability to be open, humble and willing to hear the opinions and contributions of others. Strategic thinking also requires an ability to see the big picture, which cannot happen with only a small group generating ideas and making decisions.

For this reason, every member of a marketing team should be a decision maker, influencer and strategist. In fact, in a recent two-part series on strategic thinking, our very own Eric Lebowitz advised that at least two people inside a company (but outside the marketing division) and two people outside an organization should provide feedback on upcoming content creation plans and marketing initiatives.

Where does your marketing department’s approach fall on this spectrum? 

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