Focus on the inside job to gain respect

In promoting the function and discipline of marketing as a driver of growth and a valuable link between a business and its customers, we can’t live in a bubble.

A theme that I see emerging from our content is the need for marketing to link effectively with every other part of the business and use its customer expertise to influence strategy. To that end, we gathered the views of several non-marketing board directors for this week’s cover story.

We asked them to share their views and experiences of working with marketers. On the whole it makes for some fairly grim reading.

Naturally, several of the CEOs, CFOs, HR directors, commercial and sales directors preferred to remain off the record in return for providing their frank assessments. Others were quite happy to be identified.

The accusations and complaints were many and varied. Some may not allude to you. Nor will all of them necessarily reflect the relationships you have built within your organisation. Alternatively, you may decide the criticisms are no more than you would expect from non-marketers who had been presented with a long-awaited opportunity to vent their deep frustrations with marketing.

“They understand… the needs of the entire business outside of their own departments”

But all are the beliefs of senior business figures – the people marketers must convince and persuade if their function is going to fulfil its potential.

More than most business functions, marketing’s success in business comes down to us being able to market the potency and power of what we provide for our companies.

Marketing Week columnist Mark Ritson, who has articulated the rudiments of brand strategy to many a board director in his time as a top brand consultant, adds his weight to the feature by saying that marketers just don’t speak the language of business.

On Monday, I was talking to Unilever CMO Keith Weed and asked him for his reaction to the sentiments in the feature. Weed’s elevation earlier in the year marked the first time Unilever had placed a marketer on the board. But although Weed is a former president of The Marketing Society and has held numerous brand manager job titles, he doesn’t classify himself as a marketer.

Instead, he sees himself as a business executive at a global consumer goods company with experience in a number of roles to draw on.

Plenty of world-class marketers see themselves in this way – as business people responsible for driving growth and capability across their organisations. If they are successful it is because they understand their requirements and, indeed, the needs of the entire business outside of their own departments.

Mark Choueke, editor

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