All organizations have processes—documented or not, well executed or not, effective or not—for doing what they do. Generally speaking, these processes depend upon the talent of your employees and contractors, your customer relationships, your fulfillment methods, how well your assets are developed and managed, and the resources of your investors. That list could obviously be much longer and deeper, but let's limit it to those elements for now.
It could be argued that management's core purpose, no matter what role you play or level that you are at, is to optimize the execution of these processes and sub-processes. The processes for which marketing is traditionally responsible are summarized by the American Marketing Association's (AMA) old definition of marketing: "Marketing is the process of planning and executing the conception, pricing, promotion, and distribution of ideas, goods, and services to create exchanges that satisfy individual and organizational goals."
AMA's definition was updated in 2007 to: "Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large." [emphasis added]
It now resembles the definition by Philip Kottler in his classic textbook Marketing Management: "We see marketing management as the art and science of choosing target markets and getting, keeping, and growing customers through creating, delivering, and communicating superior customer value." [emphasis added]
So marketing's scope has expanded from merchandising, which is still critical of course, to shaping and owning the customer value message. Thought leadership initiatives identify, articulate and communicate that value message. The challenge is to communicate that message using traditional research, white papers, case studies, etc., as well as social media outlets, in a way that continually engages your targeted audience. Ah, there's the rub.