CEOs round on marketers’ ‘lack of skills’

Chief executives believe marketers are poorly skilled and lacking in commercial acumen, according to research conducted by consultants McKinsey for the Marketing Society.

According to the findings presented at the Marketing Society Summit, held in London last week, the low opinion of marketers is shared by many marketing directors. Many agreed with the chief executives’ observations that marketers were resistant to changing the way they operate. Chief executives said marketers were dismissive of other departments’ analytical skills and instead placed a premium on their own ability to be creative.

Senior management described the marketing function as “undisciplined”, “uncommercial”, “self-important” and “narrow”.

The researchers also uncovered concern about the structure of training that marketers were receiving and that the traditional “marketing academies” of the large packaged goods brand companies were feeding fewer marketers into the industry at large.

As well as senior management’s worries about the overall attitude and skills of marketers, the report found there was little agreement about the meaning of marketing, with different companies ascribing the term to very different functions.

Despite the criticism, the chief executives saw marketing and branding as crucial to their companies’ commercial success.

McKinsey based its research on telephone interviews conducted with 20 chief executives and 20 marketing directors.

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