Marketing’s Seat at the Table

Published: Aug 26, 2015
Modified: May 22, 2020

By Larry Light and Joan Kiddon

We live in a volatile, changing world. The simultaneous forces of increased globalization, localization and personalization are altering our social and business relationships. Demographic changes are causing major shifts in the products and service we provide. The steep decline in institutional trust is forcing brands and companies to review their behaviors and attitudes through a new lens of credibility and integrity. These challenges require that companies revisit the way business is managed.

How do we build strong businesses in a world that is becoming more global, more local and more personal all at the same time? Instead of businesses trying to sell what they know how to provide, businesses will have to learn how to provide what customers want. Achievement of enduring, profitable growth will belong to market-driven, customer-focused businesses that are best at attracting and retaining customers in a global, local, personalized world. To be market-driven, marketing must be at the center of business decision-making.

Effective marketing is not merely about message and media management, it is at the very core of effective business management. Marketing is fundamentally about attracting and retaining customers as the basis for enduring profitable growth.

The Collaborative Three-Box Model

Businesses need to transform how they manage the marketing function. Key to building powerful brands is the new Collaborative Three-Box Model. It is a shared responsibility model that changes the way we think and the way we work together to achieve our common ambitions.

The once familiar view of global marketing was the “one-box for all” approach of global standardization. This flawed idea evolved to the current common “two-box” mantra of “Think Global. Act Local.” The result is often that the important strategic thinking is at the central headquarters and the local responsibility is to act without strategic thinking. This will not work in this new global, local, personal marketing world.

The Collaborative Three-Box Model addresses the organizational structure, decision-making processes and mind-set issues that often create hurdles to effective marketing. Box One is a cross-functional, cross-geographic collaborative approach to defining the strategic vision and objectives. Box Two is further collaboration defining the Brand Framework… the boundaries within which there is freedom to be creative. Box Three is local responsibility for local strategies and creative executions within the Brand Framework.

Instead of a business plan and a separate marketing plan, there needs to be only one plan… a brand-business plan with one set of brand-business metrics. The brand-business plan and associated metrics are built on three-pillars of business strength – bigger, better, stronger. For each of these three pillars, there should be two or three metrics that evaluate business outcomes and marketing outcomes.

Role of Marketing Leadership

Marketing leadership plays a critical role in making The Collaborative Three-Box Model work. Effective marketing leadership creates the basis for a critical strategic, market-driven coalition of corporate management. Why? Marketing is in the unique position of being responsible for the common thread that crosses all functions, all geographies, all organizational levels, because marketing is the keeper of the customer wants and needs.

In too many organizations, marketing is still viewed as a communications function focused on messaging and media. This is wrong. In the drive for sustainable, top-line growth, marketing plays a central, top-management, customer-focused role, leading the collaborative approach to strategy and execution, helping to create the brand-business plan and helping to achieve the brand-business metrics.

This cannot be accomplished without marketing leadership at the C-Suite level. Marketing leadership provides the organizational glue that enables a consistent, collaborative approach to managing the business.

Larry Light and Joan Kiddon are the authors of New Brand Leadership: Managing at the Intersection of Globalization, Localization, and Personalization.

About The Author

Larry Light is the Chief Executive Officer of Arcature LLC, consultants in brand management. Light was a senior executive and Board member at BBDO and President of the international division of Ted Bates. He was Global CMO of McDonald's from 2002 to 2005. More recently, Light was the Global Chief Brands Officer of IHG. Joan Kiddon is President and COO of Arcature LLC.