The New Insiders - Michael Kassan

By Media Link-ed Archives
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We talk a lot about how to survive and hopefully prosper in a world of constant change. We haven't spent nearly enough time talking about how that changes the people we appoint as change agents.

The marketing organization's mission has historically been to manage a company's external business life. The marketer and his or her team were the ones who opened the window to the wider world, studied it, strode out into it and secured a profitable relationship between their brands and their consumers. The marketer was, in a business sense, the ultimate outside man or woman.

That externally-facing role is still pivotal to a CMO's portfolio. But it's no longer enough. Not nearly. Say hello to the new marketing boss, nowhere near the same as the old boss.

With all of the bone-jarring shifts a 21st Century marketing organization needs to be able to make, perhaps none is more critical than a dramatic new position within the company. The marketer is now as much an insider as an outside agent. Arguably more so.

The marketer now touches almost every facet of an organization. For example, marketers need to be digitally competent and technologically savvy has created an ever-more profound relationship with their own technologists and operations.

Within five years, CMOs are predicted to control more of their company's IT budgets than their CIO counterparts. This development, in my opinion, will not create a rift within organizations, rather an ever- deepening relationship.

Then there's procurement. Purchasing is now woven so firmly into the reality of a marketing organization's partner-choosing process that it forces the marketer's attention inward as he or she is increasingly called upon to understand and contribute to the economic health of his or her enterprise as well as its sales efforts. However, in this relationship, it's critical that marketing lead procurement – and not the other way around.

Very few individuals in a business organization, in fact, have the reach and the influence to rally the organization around a goal the way a marketer can. This is vital in a digital ecosystem because while brand-building still can take years, a brand can be thoroughly destroyed in a second.

There's an old academic theory our nation's three-branch system of government with its checks and balances that prevented any one branch from holding too much power no longer worked in a world with nuclear bombs. All it took was the President's press of a button, mere seconds, and an irrevocable choice would have been made.

That nuclear bomb is today's tweet. One keystroke, not even a matter of seconds, and an irrevocable choice is made that can blow a brand to bits overnight. One single mistake by anyone within an organization is all it takes.

This ever-present threat requires every stakeholder in the C-Suite to behave like a marketer. And it requires the marketer to understand the perspectives of everyone else in the room, and of course to continue to build brands strong enough to overcome even a digitally-enabled nuclear option.

Much attention has been paid, and rightly so, to how marketing organizations need to break down silos. Similarly, the marketing team itself has been a silo within companies. But that silo is being dismantled quickly—and permanently.

The new marketer is a man or woman of many talents, with knowledge that spans the C-Suite and unprecedented influence within their companies. Mr. or Ms. Outside is becoming the consummate insider. No one is immune to change, least of all the change agents themselves.

Michael E. Kassan is Chairman and CEO of MediaLink, LLC, a leading Los Angeles and New York City-based advisory and business development firm that provides critical counsel and direction on issues of marketing, advertising, media, entertainment and digital technology. Michael can be reached at

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