In a recent article in Marketing Week ( http://tinyurl.com/34gyrkh ), Diageo chief marketing officer Andy Fennell says “the marketing discipline undersells itself when it promotes the discipline as merely the provider of ‘creative services’.”

In a recent article in Marketing Week ( http://tinyurl.com/34gyrkh ), Diageo chief marketing officer Andy Fennell says “the marketing discipline undersells itself when it promotes the discipline as merely the provider of ‘creative services’.”

Generally speaking, this comment could apply to any division within an organization by just substituting the name of another discipline for “marketing”. For example, IT is often viewed as the provider of information technology services and the HR department is just as often viewed as the provider of “hiring and benefits” services. However, as a marketer, the point Fennell is trying to make is that marketers should play a lead role in organizational strategic planning, but instead, often propagate the “we’re just the creative guys” perception by not taking greater ownership of that planning, resulting in a myopic view of the critical value of the marketing department.

The first challenge to overcoming this perception is finding and working for a company that welcomes marketing leadership as contributors to the overall business plan. Unfortunately, there are organizations who look at marketing (and other departments as well) strictly as deliverable or support divisions, not strategic contributors. However, once you’ve found a company willing to listen to your input, you need to demonstrate an interest in the broader business plan. If a marketer only cares about marketing, then he/she is going to be viewed only as a “marketing services provider”. On the other hand, if a marketer demonstrates that his/her vision and knowledge can help develop and direct the business plan, he/she will successfully dispel the prejudiced view of marketers as just “the creative guys”.

Interestingly enough, there are generally two divisions within a company that interact with virtually every other division regularly: finance and marketing/communications. Yet in many cases, of the two divisional leaders, only the CFO is always consulted on business strategy.

For a company not to seek the marketing department’s counsel, or for the marketing department not to be a leader in broader business planning is, in my opinion, short sighted.

However, a shift in perceptions doesn’t occur without someone actively working to change those perceptions. Only you can do that. So ask for the ball and then run with it!