5 Steps to Getting a Seat at the Table

Stephanie Geiger, Co-founder and Executive Vice President, Government Marketing University

As a government marketer, you know that the best marketing plan starts with strategy. Without it, you will not succeed in your role. Coming to the table with a strategic plan that can demonstrate results will not only accelerate the evolution of your organization, gain you respect, and support your career growth, it can also earn you that prized seat at the table.

During Episode One of GAIN 2021, Government Marketing University’s premier government marketing conference, the government marketing community came together online to learn about the importance of strategic marketing. “Marketing is an essential function of any successful business,” said Rao Unnava, Ph.D., Dean of Graduate School of Management, University of California, Davis, and American Marketing Association Board Member.

During Unnava’s presentation, “Build a Lasting Career with a Seat at the Table: Kids’ Table No More”, he shared insights on what government marketers need to do to get recognized by corporate leaders and participate in the important decision-making process that happens in every company. Unnava revealed that government marketers must first educate stakeholders about the purpose of marketing; convince them of marketing’s return on investment (ROI); and work collaboratively to integrate with corporate strategy.

Unnava shared these five important steps to gaining the recognition you deserve:

  1. Understand the implications of marketing actions for other functions.
    Don’t cause conflict with other departments. Before launching a campaign, it is important to consult with other departments – such as logistics, operations, production, or finance – that would be impacted by the timing and execution of your campaign. If these functions are unaware that you plan to launch a particular campaign, the supply chain may be unable to meet the increased demand and the company could see negative impacts financially and on internal resources. Communication is key to getting support from other department leaders.
  2. Learn basic accounting and finance principles.
    Consider seeking training in accounting and finance to understand what effect your actions will have on your company’s finances. Retaining a customer is six to eight times cheaper than trying to bring in a new customer. If you can show over time how your acquisition costs decreased, and retention numbers are rising, you will be able to demonstrate the value you are providing to your company’s bottom line.
  3. Link marketing strategy to corporate strategy.
    Explain how your marketing strategies are helping the company to accomplish its strategic objectives. Once stakeholders see that they will not be successful without your contributions, you will be regarded as a team leader and an integral part of the decision making process.
  4. Work with other groups before finalizing marketing strategy.
    Get both recognition and buy-in from corporate stakeholders by going outside to consult with government marketing experts. An experienced government marketing consultant can give you a much needed outside perspective to identify areas of your strategic plan where you need to improve the most. They can help you to come up with a better plan to target the right customers with the most effective marketing campaign at the right time. This positions you as a strategic thinker and a problem solver.
  5. Tell the story of ROI and how that brings value to the company.
    Then, tell it again. Keep reminding your senior leaders how marketing’s contributions are supporting corporate strategy and making a difference. Tell the story of how marketing is boosting ROI to as many people as you can. The more you reinforce how you are bringing value to the company, the more you will be recognized as a part of the team, and you’ll be brought to the table for further discussions.

No one is going to offer you a seat at the table unless you demonstrate to corporate leaders that you are worthy. In addition to the five steps listed above, also remember to dress, speak, and communicate professionally; know who the key players are, and make sure they know who you are; and aim to exceed expectations. If you prove yourself to be an essential team player, some day you may find yourself at the head of the table.