Here’s the good news: Non-marketers—or employees in departments such as operations, sales, finance, customer service, etc.—view marketing as a valuable part of their organization, according to a new survey from Research Now.
In fact, 84% of respondents reported that marketing is essential to their business.
Here’s the not so good news: Sales (92%), customer service (92%), manufacturing/operations (86%), and IT (86%) were all deemed more vital than the marketing team. Research and development was viewed as equally vital (84%). Only the finance (82%), purchasing (70%), and HR (61%) teams were seen as less vital than marketing. Regardless of their department, only 2% said that marketing has little or no impact on the business, the survey found.
How well is marketing performing?
Some 65% agreed the marketing team was seen as hard working. Marketing is also recognized for its knowledge and expertise by 63% of U.S. colleagues, while 61% consider marketing to be results-focused and 55% regard the department as delivering successful results and projects.
For creativity, an area where most marketers would feel they excel, just over half of those questioned (56%) considered creativity as a key strength of the marketing team. Slightly more than half of respondents (53%) also felt that effective communications were a key strength for the marketing team, and less than half (47%) thought the marketing team was effective at problem solving.
The role of marketing was viewed as executional rather than strategic. The results suggest that marketing’s colleagues value their contribution, but don’t appear to understand its role beyond the creative outputs they see.
The perception of marketing is rooted in tangible outputs, in particular creative outputs such as advertising, PR, and brand management. Some 53% of respondents regard advertising and promotions as the top marketing activity, followed by 43% for brand management and development and 38% for PR.
Those working outside of marketing also don’t appear to understand the role that data management and analysis have in driving many of the top activities by a marketing team. While 34% choose market research as one of the top five marketing activities, only 18% include customer data analysis, 11% provide customer insight, and just 14% include competitor analysis among the top marketing functions.
The study reflected the recent growth in digital and online marketing with social media being listed as one of the top roles and responsibilities for the marketing team by 39% of those non-marketers surveyed. Seventy-one percent respondents stated that social media activities have become more important over the last two years. This has been echoed in the make-up of the marketing team itself with 51% of all respondents and marketers, as well as non-marketers, reporting that social media specialists have been employed in their marketing team in the last five years.
Additionally, 52% of respondents said that web management and SEO have increased in importance within the marketing team in the last two years, likewise reflecting the swing to digital. In addition, while 60% of people working in non-marketing departments said that brand management and development had become more important in the last two years, only 13% saw the team as driving business strategy and 10% in working on product development and innovation.
The study also found that there appears to be a silo-view of marketing and its function within business for many employees. Only 16% of the non-marketers regarded collaborating with other departments as one of the top functions of marketing. As might be expected, collaboration is most successful with sales. Eighty-nine percent of those asked said that the marketing team collaborates effectively with the sales team, 55% said that marketing collaborates effectively with research and development, and 52% said the marketing team collaborated well with customer service.
However, for all other departments, collaboration is not seen as effective. Less than half of those questioned felt collaboration was effective between the marketing teams and the purchasing (34%), manufacturing/operations (36%), and IT (44%) teams.
In addition, those surveyed suggested that the marketing team could collaborate more closely with all departments. The study saw, on average, a 21% increase in the desire for collaboration when respondents were asked, “how effectively do you believe the marketing team should collaborate with the following departments?” The most significant increases were seen for customer service and research and development with 80% and 81% of respondents stating they should collaborate effectively with the marketing team.
“Thankfully, the results of this study do lay some stereotypes to rest,” Chris Dubreuil, MD – Northern Europe at Research Now, says. “Marketing is a well-appreciated and crucial function of any business. However, there does seem to be a fundamental lack of understanding, particularly concerning the importance of strategic marketing in the broader business context and the importance of data for marketing purposes. It would certainly seem that marketers need to market themselves a little better and effectively communicate the less glamourous, but equally vital, tasks that lay the foundation for their tangible, creative output.”
Methodology: Between Oct. 22 and Nov. 9 2015, Research Now surveyed 1,500 respondents in the U.S. who do not work in marketing teams, representing a wide range of 22 industry sectors, company sizes (all with 50+ employees), and company locations in the U.S. Every person surveyed worked in an organization with a marketing department.