12 Powers of a Marketing Leader

Today’s Marketing Leaders

Today, many marketing leaders report that they are having less impact and are not satisfied in their jobs. That may be somewhat surprising since marketing methods and capabilities are in the midst of exciting changes and the opportunities are like never before.


Research: only 44% of marketing leaders satisfied with career.


Thomas Barta, a former McKinsey Partner, and Patrick Barwise, Emeritus Professor of Management and Marketing at London Business School, just conducted the most extensive research ever on what drives marketers’ business impact and career success. What drives impact? What does it take to thrive in marketing today? With data spanning 170 countries and over 8,600 leaders, Thomas and Paddy distilled the results into what it really takes to drive customer and company value.

Thomas and Paddy recently shared more with me about their new book, The 12 Powers of A Marketing Leader: How to Succeed by Building Customer and Company Value, and the extensive research behind their findings.


“When the best leader’s work is done the people say, ‘we did it ourselves.” -Lao Tzu


Your research revealed that most senior marketers aren’t satisfied with their career paths. Why not? What’s different for them than they expected?

12 Powers of a Marketing LeaderThat’s right. Only 44% of marketers are satisfied with their careers—and in the 360-degree data, marketers’ bosses, when comparing the career success of all their direct reports, put them last. We think there are two reasons. First, as customer experts, they likely think they should have more influence on key business decisions rather than being limited to decisions on advertising and promotion. Recent research by Frank Germann, Peter Ebbs and Rajdeep Grewal shows that they’re right: having a CMO in the C-suite and having an influential marketing department do help companies become more customer-focused, increasing business performance. Secondly, they lack job security. While average S&P 500 CEO tenure is six years plus, average US CMO tenure is only four years and possibly decreasing: search firm Spencer Stuart recently reported it was down to forty-four months in 2015.


“Leaders must encourage their organizations to dance to forms of music yet to be heard.” -Warren Bennis


Balance Leadership and Functional Skills

You say that leadership skills matter more than technical marketing skills. I passionately agree. Is there a certain time when this matters more in a career? How do marketers balance the constant need to stay up with new technologies with the need to learn leadership skills? 

Leading marketing isn’t the same as doing marketing, and many marketers underinvest in leadership skills.

As a junior marketer, most of your effort will inevitably go into becoming excellent in the particular technical area you’re working on. As you become more senior, you have to achieve more through other people. But at all stages, it’s important to keep developing your broader business and leadership skills.

Our evidence is that many, perhaps most, senior marketers are getting so sucked into the ever-changing technical issues that they lose sight of the bigger picture and the need to build and mobilize a great team, keep it aligned around the CEO’s agenda, spend time with their non-marketing colleagues who mainly determine the quality of the customer experience, and so on.

Patrick Barwise Patrick Barwise

As a senior marketer, you should aim to be a leader of leaders. You need enough understanding of the latest technical developments to hire the best people, mobilize them, align them with the strategy, and constructively challenge them when necessary. But your main role isn’t to try to keep fully up to speed on the technicalities (an impossible task); it’s to ensure that, as a group, the team contributes as much as possible to the development and execution of the strategy. Crucially, that includes mobilizing your boss and your non-marketing colleagues as well as your team (and yourself).

Functional skills and leadership skills matter. Getting the balance right is a big challenge, but really important for both marketing and the company.


“Recognizing power in another does not diminish your own.” -Joss Whedon


Take a 360 Degree View of Leadership

You distill your findings into 12 traits that drive success, and you put them in 4 categories (boss, colleagues, team, yourself). That’s basically an internal 360 degree view from where you sit in an organization. What are some of the symptoms that demonstrate you have it wrong, e.g., you’re focusing too much on the boss and not enough on the team or otherwise have your balance out of whack?

That’s exactly right about the 360 degree view. Our beef with most work on leadership is that it’s only about managing your subordinates and perhaps yourself. But most leaders – in fact, everyone up to CXO level – also need to manage their relationships with their colleagues and bosses. The traditional picture of leadership is incomplete except for perhaps the CEO – and even the CEO is accountable to the chairman and the board.

The main way in which senior marketers get this balance wrong is by spending most of their time inside the marketing department managing the team’s activities rather than walking the halls to energize everyone around the customer agenda. The symptoms are that non-marketers in these companies will likely say: “Marketing is a silo,” while the marketers will refer to themselves as something like “the coloring-in department” – that is, limited to advertising and promotion, with little influence on the company’s products, prices, distribution, service support, etc.


The 12 Powers of a Marketing Leader

  1. Tackle only big issues
  2. Deliver returns, no matter what
  3. Work only with the best
  4. Hit the head and the heart
  5. Walk the halls
  6. You go first
  7. Get the mix right
  8. Cover them in trust
  9. Let the outcomes speak
  10. Fall in love with your world
  11. Know how you inspire
  12. Aim higher


Cover Them With Trust

I appreciate your chapter Cover Them with Trust. Talk about trust – what steps should a leader take to build trust?

Tomas Barta Tomas Barta

To build trust within the team, leaders need to go beyond professionalism (knowing a lot, being reliable, and so on) and our key recommendation to get people to “ask for forgiveness, not permission.” People like strong leaders who trust them and genuinely listen to their ideas and concerns, but they also want to know the real person behind the business leader. That’s why, at times, it’s critical to be willing to show weakness, too. Michelle Peluso, former CEO of online shopping site Gilt, for example, shared her own 360-degree assessments with her team and asked for help. You can’t put a value on that. Conversely, having and showing a big ego destroys trust. So make your corner office the team room. Praise people. Take one for the team at times.


“A big ego destroys trust.”


The 4 Most Important Powers

Why Leaders Must Deliver on Promises

Setting Expectations

Recently, I purchased a gift basket for an employee who goes above and beyond, day after day. She never seeks praise, but quietly serves others in a way that is admirable. She consistently demonstrates the 9 Qualities of A Servant Leader. The basket we picked was pictured on the website and looked like this:



Yum, right? Full of fresh fruit and other goodies, we thought it would demonstrate some small measure of gratitude for all she has done for others. That picture set our expectations and it seemed a fitting thank you.


“Be so good they can’t ignore you.” –Steve Martin


Unexpected Disappointments

When she received it, she was grateful. That’s who she is, part of what makes her successful. But then she took a picture of the basket, and I did a double-take. Because here is what it looked like:


Not exactly as advertised, huh?

We were shocked.

A brand isn’t a logo. A brand is a promise. It’s an experience.


“Building a brand is about a thousand little new touches.” -Eric Ryan


This particular business has destroyed its reputation with the experience.

We all know that this destruction can happen with corporate brands. It can also happen with personal brands:

12 Ways Brands Get Off Track

12 Sins of Branding

Companies, like people, can go off track. A simple error compounds. The wrong attitude takes root. A poorly designed strategy is implemented. Perhaps the focus is just a bit off, sending everything off course. It happens.

What do you do if you are off track? How do you recognize the signs?

There are two branding experts that I turn to when it comes to branding and revitalizing brands: Larry Light and Joan Kiddon. They not only have the experience, but their advice is my favorite kind: practical and actionable. I’m not one for studying theories that I can’t immediately use.

I recently spoke with the authors about the troubling behaviors and attitudes that cause companies to mess up their brand. They have identified 12 ways that brands go awry. Their updated book on branding, Six Rules of Brand Revitalization, is a must-read on the subject.


“Arrogance leads to complacency which destroys innovation and leaves you out of date.”


The Arrogance of Success

How do you pull a culture out of arrogance, especially if they don’t realize it?

Often it takes a sense of urgency, a perception of an impending crisis. Change is difficult. An arrogant culture resists change until it seems that there is no option. Change or die. Dramatize the need for change. The most dangerous disease is complacency. Arrogance can lead to complacency. Complacency can keep your eyes closed to innovation and leave you out of date with your customers. The common expression, “Go back to basics,” is often used to defend resisting change. Going backwards will not guide marketers how to best go forward.


“Culture change is led from the top. The leader sets the tone.”


Culture change is led from the top. The leader sets the tone. Sometimes a leadership change is necessary. This is what happened at McDonald’s in 2002. The new leadership immediately dramatized the need for change. Jim Cantalupo, the new CEO, created a sense of urgency.

We recommend the four steps of Breaking the LOCK on Brand Troubles: Fix Leadership; then leadership can fix the Organization alignment. Cultural change is an imperative. Knowledge is a powerful force. Become a learning culture…


12 Branding Sins

1: The arrogance of success

2: The comfort of complacency

3: The building of organizational barriers and bureaucratic processes

4: The focus on analyst satisfaction rather than on customer satisfaction

5: The belief that what worked yesterday will work today

6: The failure to innovate

7: The lack of focus on the core customer

8: The backtracking to basics

9: The loss of relevance

10: The lack of a coherent Plan to Win

11: The lack of a balanced Brand-Business Scorecard

12: The disregard for the changing world



Is there one that is most often the culprit in brand failures?

As we say in the book, the Twelve Tendencies for Trouble are not independent of each other. These are all interconnected forces. A company that succumbs to one seems to succumb to more than one. There is no single culprit. Each of the Twelve Tendencies for Trouble must be avoided.


“Problem solution is the most effective way to stay relevant.”


Encourage a Culture of Innovation

How to Avoid the Most Common Branding Mistakes

6 Rules of Brand Revitalization


How do you keep a brand relevant?


If you are looking to develop a strong global brand, you will find two names consistently mentioned as “go-to” experts: Larry Light and Joan Kiddon. They have just released a second edition of their book on branding, Six Rules of Brand Revitalization.

If you need to revitalize a brand, or if you are looking to avoid the pitfalls others have made, this book is a blueprint to follow for building a brand.


“Without trust, there can be no brand loyalty.” -Light / Kiddon


I recently spoke with the authors about their new book and the rules of branding.


6 Rules of Brand Revitalization


1. Refocus the organization.

Where do most corporate leaders get it wrong?

They tend to believe that “refocus” can happen through tools and templates and HR seminars. Refocus is more than filling in the blanks and talking the talk. When there is a conflict between strategy and culture, culture wins. A commitment to change requires refocusing of the cultural mindset that emanates from the top down. Merely embarking on a training program to encourage a focus on new tools, templates, and techniques can distract from the need to accomplish both the behavioral and attitudinal modifications that foster culture change.


“Refocusing an organization around common goals is the first step for brand revitalization.” -Light / Kiddon


6 Rules of Brand Revitalization

Rule 1: Refocus the organization

Rule 2: Restore brand relevance

Rule 3: Reinvent the brand experience

Rule 4: Reinforce a results culture

Rule 5: Rebuild brand trust

Rule 6: Realize global alignment


What tip would you provide to a leadership team in the midst of this refocus?

Leaders are different from commanders. Commanders manage by telling people what to do. They create acceptors. Leaders create believers. Acceptors go through the motions complying with the new processes and behaviors. Believers have true commitment that this refocus is a better path to a successful future. Acceptors are not the same as adherents. The leader must be the one to set the tone and drive the change for all to see and emulate. Leaders must demonstrate commitment if they expect people to become believers in the new world.


“The leader must set the tone and drive change.” -Light / Kiddon



2. Restore brand relevance.

What are the best ways to stay on top of changing customer expectations?

Stay up-to-date with all available information. Read a variety of sources, not just in your business’ field but also across many disciplines. Include regular market research reports. But also include what is happening in the world around us. Be observant. Be informed. Be open to new ideas.

In this world of access to “big data’” there is now a focus on data analytics. Analysis can tell us about what is happening today. Analysis is about the decomposition of data. But real insight does not come from analysis. It comes from creative synthesis. Analysis is about taking data apart. Synthesis is about putting together disparate sources of information in original ways. Synthesis is about detecting patterns that others fail to see. Keeping a brand relevant will involve both analysis and synthesis. Make sure that the organization is open and conducive to creative synthesis.


3. Reinvent the brand experience.

How do you define a brand experience?

The total brand experience includes consideration, shopping, purchase, use, service, online, offline, brand communications, handling of customer complaints, and so on. Every touch point with the customer is a part of the total brand experience. It includes every aspect of the brand promise: functional benefits, emotional and social rewards, solutions to problems, and so forth.


“Every touch point with the customer is a part of the total brand experience.” -Light / Kiddon


How fast can a brand innovate and reinvent?

How Busy Authors Market Books In An Online World

Are you an aspiring author?

Have you written a book but need some marketing tips?

How do you get the message out about your work?


How to Increase Online Effectiveness

Today it’s not only about the manuscript but also about how to get the word out about your book. Online marketing and social media have upended the traditional methods to market an author. Today, your effectiveness online is crucial to the success of your book.

In my own experience in the book business, I have seen the shift to social media and the rise of the author’s platform as major marketing tools. One of the notable experts in this field is Fauzia Burke. Fauzia is the founder and president of FSB Associates, an online publicity and marketing firm specializing in creating awareness for books and authors. She’s the author of Online Marketing for Busy Authors: A Step-by-Step Guide. Fauzia has promoted the books of authors such as Alan Alda, Arianna Huffington, Deepak Chopra, Melissa Francis, S. C. Gwynne, Mika Brzezinski, Charles Spencer and many more.

I recently asked Fauzia to share her wisdom about the best ways to market a book online.


“Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction.” -John F. Kennedy


You’ve personally witnessed online developments from inception to today’s social and mobile world. Compare and contrast today to pre-online. How is the world different for authors today?

Oh, wow. Everything has changed . . . the most significant being that there’s never been a better time to be an author. Now, for the first time in the history of publishing, authors have direct access to their readers. Social media has changed the publishing landscape. While there is more competition in the marketplace today, there are more opportunities than ever before.

The new accessibility of social media allows authors to reach their audience directly, and this makes a long-term online marketing strategy absolutely essential for authors. The key to success for authors today is to build and grow their platform long-term. If they earn the trust of their readers, they can do anything.


“There’s never been a better time to be an author.” –Fauzia Burke


Common Misconceptions

What are some of the biggest misconceptions authors have when it comes to book publicity?

Many people feel book publicity is not quantifiable. I disagree with that notion. We can absolutely quantify the effects of publicity. When book publicity works, we see an increase in sales. Today, we can also judge the value by an increase in social media visibility and more traffic to an author’s site. Unfortunately, we can’t often duplicate success or land book sales each time. How a book resonates with its audience is magic. We can’t make people buy a book, a fact that is more frustrating to us as publicists than to anyone.

The other misconception is that there is a short launch period when an author gets media hits and goes on a book tour, and then an author moves on until the next book. That is just not the case anymore. Book publicity is a marathon, not a sprint. Authors are expected to engage with their readers whether they have a book to push or not.

Josh Charles, an actor on the TV series The Good Wife said when he exited the show: “I think that the beauty of social media is the ability to stay in touch with the fans and share with them what they’re going through and let them know that I’m there and the character may be gone, but I’m still involved in the show.” Authors too start a conversation with their community that is ongoing and lasting. It can’t stop at the end of a book tour.


“How a book resonates with its audience is magic.” –Fauzia Burke


3 Must Do’s for Authors

What are the top 3 “must do’s” for an author?

  1. Work on an online marketing strategy. The few authors that have become huge bestselling successes without a digital or social strategy are anomalies. Most of us need to work on online branding every day for the success of our businesses, books and careers. I encourage authors to develop their online brands. Online marketing is not about selling; it’s about making buying easier. It’s about forming real connections.
  2. Authors need to have a professional website. Your website will be your home base for your digital marketing efforts, and it is critical to your credibility. People do judge a book by its cover and an author’s expertise and quality of their writing by the look of their website.
  3. Be patient. If you are a little overwhelmed by the rapidly changing world of online marketing, you are not alone. Remember all of us, experts and novice, are learning as we go. You don’t have to become a social media strategist to be effective. By using the most important online marketing outlets for your audience in a targeted way, your book, brand and bottom line will benefit.


“No matter what your pursuit, the most fulfilling part is sharing it with others.” -Eli Broad


Social Media Engagement is a Privilege

My perception is that, after writing the book, most authors breathe a sigh of relief and think “It’s done!” and then they learn the real work is ahead of them. Is that your experience? How do you ease them into the reality of what’s ahead?online-marketing-for-busy-authors-sidebar

Ah, yes. Of course, for every author, writing their book is a labor of love and incredibly hard work, and so understandably they exhale a sigh of relief when the book writing process is finished. It’s tough to immediately say, “Wait until you see the work that’s still ahead.” We all complain about social media because it’s time consuming, but it’s the way the world has changed, and as authors, we need to change with it. We have to adapt. Once authors embrace the need to change with the times, I tell them some good news:

  • You don’t have to do everything.
  • You don’t have to constantly switch directions to follow the next shiny thing.
  • You get an unprecedented opportunity to build a community of interested readers who want to support your success.

It’s really a privilege to be able to talk to people and form relationships with your readers. I think authors breathe a sigh of relief when they realize the best way to engage effectively online is to be authentic.


“It’s a privilege to be able to talk to people and form relationships with your readers.” –Fauzia Burke


Stand Out with a Strong Personal Brand