Monday, May 21, 2007

Marketing Leadership: Five Steps to Move Forward

Linda Popky, L2M Associates

Two weeks ago I asked where is the marketing leadership ? I firmly believe that global marketing leadership can be driven by us here in Silicon Valley. Here are five steps to move the process forward:

  1. Elevate the right exemplars.

From the earliest recorded time through the Greek and Roman empires to the present, societies have looked to their exemplars—their leaders—to set the stage for how entities and individuals should act. It is the exemplars that provide the example for what is rewarded, what is tolerated, and what is punished. As human beings, we focus on behavior rather than pronouncements, knowing that actions really do speak louder than words.

As marketers, we run the risk of letting the leadership process happen haphazardly, or worse yet, of elevating the wrong exemplars. Instead, we must specifically decide who deserves to be elevated as our models. We need to be clear about which behaviors we want to emulate and what type of leadership we intend to endorse. Nature abhors a vacuum. If we don’t choose the right leaders, they will be chosen for us and we will then live with the consequences.

  1. Stand up and be counted.

As marketing leaders, we need to take leadership positions on key issues that affect our area, our industries, our profession. We need to drive the responsible use of marketing techniques and technologies through our organizations and beyond. We need to ensure our organizations understand the strategic importance of marketing as a discipline to their success, and that they are aware of the critical impact a strong team of marketing talent (or lack thereof) may have on their future. To quote the Talmud, If not me, than whom? If not now, then when?

  1. Be ahead of the curve.

It’s easy to jump on a bandwagon, but harder to stand up for an issue that may not yet be mainstream, or may even actually be unpopular. We have the power to raise awareness and to create attention—that’s what we do so well. We need to do that early, rather than follow others’ leads. Today the buzz is around clean tech, climate change, sustainability. These are all noble and good causes, but they are not the only areas that need our attention. How can the discipline of marketing, with all its techniques and technology, programs and processes, drive the next big thing—rather than be driven by it?

  1. Mentor others.

A good mentor can not only open doors for a marketing employee, but can teach them how to navigate a complex organization, give them insights that would take years to develop on their own, or help them develop critical influence and negotiation skills. We have all been guided through the years by a series of mentors and leaders, some more than others. We need to ensure we are providing that same level of guidance—and more—for young professionals as they enter our sphere of influence. They may live in the world of Web 2.0, but we’ve survived the school of hard knocks. The experiences and expertise we can share are invaluable

  1. Consider the greater good.

New marketing techniques and technologies are introduced almost on a daily basis—some have even been highlighted in other entries in this blog. We need to be sure we understand the consequences of each of these tools that we are so ready to unleash to the world. How will they be used and how might they be misused? How can they be engaged to effect positive change, on a global as well as a local basis? When there are negative impacts, how do we mitigate them? What is our role and how do we embrace it?

Where is the Marketing Leadership? It is here, within each and every one of us, if we choose to take on the challenge. We are what, how and where we do marketing. We have met the future and it is us. How will we handle this responsibility?

Linda Popky is the President of L2M Associates, a Redwood City, California-based strategic marketing company that helps organizations dramatically improve their return on investment on marketing programs, processes and people. Learn more about how to leverage your marketing investment by visiting her website at, or contacting her at

No comments: