The Business Case for Marketing

Historically, marketing has been perceived as fairly subjective, but these days, creativity alone does not cut it. The apogee of a marketer’s career a few years ago might have been a sixty second spot for a Super Bowl ad or a billboard in Times Square. You could work months on capturing a story or a message designed to be as visually arresting as possible, while connecting with your audience on an emotional level. 

You might push out a TV advert, be present in print, be in expansive out of home and even a radio spot depending on your budget. But apart from sales reports, the results could be difficult to measure. 

How many people walked into a store and purchased the product after seeing that billboard? Had they seen it once? Or had they seen it 14 times, and had they heard the commercial a further 5 times? How many of them walked in, spoke to a salesperson who gave them a demo and let them try it out for size, but didn’t purchase? 

Now that we can measure all of that activity, alongside a myriad of other, even more complex and seemingly benign details, (did the ad with the laptop opened up to the right motivate more people to take action than when it was opened to the left?) we can collect all these countless data points, and spot trends. We can use them to create new hypotheses which we can test and test again… because an idea without some data points to back it up is just a hunch.

Modernizing Marketing

The volatile operating environment throughout COVID-19 only served to highlight the vulnerability of the marketing engine. In a global Gartner survey conducted late last year, almost half of chief marketing officers (44%) reported they were facing midyear budget cuts in 2020 as a direct result of the pandemic. Eleven percent expected their budgets to face significant cuts of more than 15%. Out of a list of 24 most valuable metrics for CMOs – return on investment (ROI) was reported as the single most important. 

The environment and the tools around us have modernized, and so we as marketers must modernize too. We must get smarter, and more efficient with our budgets. What differentiates a modern CMO these days, is having a digital vision based on data and insights and a clear deployment strategy for ongoing digital transformation of the organization as a whole. Data too, must drive a CMO’s communication of the ROI to the wider business in order to make the case for that precious investment.

The role of a modern marketer has become multifaceted and interdisciplinary – involving a flair for creative storytelling, alongside a skill for recognizing trends in numbers so that we know which of our hunches are resonating and which are simple speculation. I’m here for it - as it means our industry is attracting an expanding remit of skills that will help to elevate the business case for marketing within every sector, and prove we know how to drive ROI. 

Anchoring a vision as a CMO starts with an introspective review of what the needs of the organization are, and where the skill and capability of the team sits. From there, you can define your long-term vision and immediately following this, frame up your roadmap to get there. 

Short-term goals and quick wins

We’ve just released ‘High Performance Comes from Within’ – a creative, integrated marketing campaign designed to drive awareness and consideration for the ThinkPad sub-brand. This campaign marks the first stepping stone in my strategy for the marketing function at Lenovo. 

What you will see is an inspiring story about how innovative ThinkPad technology can elevate the next generation of talent to reach their full potential, at home, at work and everywhere in between. What you won’t see, is that it’s the first time we have built out a global business-to-business (B2B) marketing campaign that has been driven by the end-users themselves. 

With deep study into feedback from actual end-users, we’ve learned a lot about the new generation of Corporate Trendsetters. The rollout of the campaign was designed specifically to meet this group of motivated, optimistic, insatiable achievers where they’re at - on social, digital and earned media. It was spearheaded by macro lifestyle influencer and CEO/Founder of Love Squad, Ally Love who embodies all of the traits of a corporate trendsetter. The campaign drove over 5 million impressions in its first week, more than 15 million to date, and has exceeded five out of six of our benchmarks! 

The best marketing always starts with a deep and clear understanding of user insights - their pain points, passion points and changes in behavior. Leveraging what the customers tell us is a quick win because it’s wisdom that we just need to make sure we can act on. 

Planning for, achieving and celebrating short-term wins is super important, especially when we’re working remotely. They give us something achievable to aim for and help to keep us following along on the same track.

I cannot reach the destination alone, nor do I wish to. Stopping along the way to look around, checking in with how things are going, and making sure we’re achieving our goals together, helps me build confidence and credibility.

Long-term goals and vision

My long-term vision for marketing at Lenovo is around modernization of the marketing function as a whole, and this has to be anchored in data and insights. The time I took for step one of laying out my vision (acclimating to the organizations’ needs and learning as much as I could about the talent around me) helped me to define three key long-term goals to shoot for. These three focus areas will lay the foundations for a marketing center of excellence at Lenovo:

  • Insights into customer decision journeys, segmentation, and inter-personalization
  • Refining our media strategy into a hybrid of agency and in-house. 
  • Measurement strategy (clear articulation of ROI)

My plans for each of these three areas are complex and detailed, which is why they are long term goals to be achieved in 24 to 36 months’ time. My roadmap will involve outsourcing some things and bringing some in-house, in order for us all to learn, grow and educate each other… and in the process – put marketing at Lenovo on the map as a destination for fresh talent. 

Change where change is due

Anyone who has worked with me before knows I have a huge appetite and passion for my work. I will often be the person to put my hand up, lean in and take on multiple roles, start peering down several different pathways and contributing to different projects. I’ve talked a lot about the plans for marketing at Lenovo and optimizing our ways of working, but it’s equally important to manage ambitious changes strategically and at the right pace. Measured, purposeful changes that are optimizing the working foundations already there, will maximize any short-term efforts towards shared, long-term company goals. Importantly, this will help my teams feel empowered and confident along the journey with me as a new leader. 

This article is featured as part of LenovoPRO Community’s “Inside Lenovo” series where we feature content and insight from Lenovo’s own people. 

This article was originally posted at the following link as part of Emily Ketchen’s (VP/CMO – Lenovo’s Intelligent Services Group) “Ketchen’s Corner” newsletter. 

What are your general thoughts on marketing for your business? Do you enjoy it or is it a necessary evil? What are some of your approached to marketing strategy – both long and short term?

Leave your thoughts and questions below to get the conversation going!


  • As an entrepreneur, I believe marketing is not only a necessary evil but also an exciting process. It can open up opportunities to attract customers and build relationships with them. My long-term marketing strategy approach is to optimize existing channels such as and Google Adsense., in particular, offers inexpensive advertisement opportunities which are relatively easy to set up and manage. This can help my business reach out to potential customers. For short-term marketing strategies, I create engaging content and utilize social media platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

    Internationally, I use Linkedin and Wechat as well as Xiaohongshu.

    By engaging with customers through these platforms, I can learn more about their needs and tailor my services to meet them. Additionally, I will periodically run promotions and sales to attract more customers. These strategies are necessary for a successful marketing plan and will help my business grow.