What gives a marketer her authority?

In a post from last week, I mentioned (almost as an aside) that marketers have to own the “What The Customer Wants” piece if they want any authority. This was a rather loose end that needed tying. I can think of three other subjects that a marketer ought to know cold, if they expect to have a say in corporate strategy.

Qualitative Market Knowledge. In other words, you’ve got to know who does the buying and what do we need to give them at each point in the process. Customer interviews form the backbone of this knowledge. Large-sample-size surveys provide hard data to back up the conclusions you gain from interviews.

Quantitative Market Research. How big is your current market? How big will it be in five years?

Prospect and User Metrics. What do people click on? Which ads motivate them? Who calls customer service the most, and the least? This data fills out your knowledge of the customer, both in how they buy and use your product.

Competitive Environment. The product manager, if he’s not in the marketing group, may own this piece. (He may own some of the metrics too.) Marketers can go beyond the typical who-has-what-product-feature by tracking competitor corporate strategy.

Note that these aren’t fungible skills like the ability to write ad copy, perform regression analysis, quote from business cases like an MBA, or do a slick Powerpoint. This is situation-specific data, which require regular monitoring. Knowing these four subjects keeps marketers from being treated like an ad agency.