How fit is your business for growth?

Lucy Handley is a key member of the Marketing Week features team and has also worked in advertising agencies so can bring a unique perspective to client-agency relationships when writing on this topic.

Even in the biggest consumer businesses, it can be hard to explain the role of marketing to the rest of the company.

Take this comment from Simon Lowden, the chief marketing officer of Pepsi Beverages, North America:

“The role of marketing in driving growth is not well understood in other functions or sometimes by those general managers who are not marketers by background. As a result, we either get boxed into a more limited role – creative, communications, promotions, sponsorship.

“Or, at the other extreme, any issues relating to KPIs on price, revenue management streams, distribution, availability, manufacturing strategies… all these questions are laid at the door of marketing.”

But marketing, argues The Growth Drivers, a new book by Andy Bird and Mhairi McEwan – which features Lowden’s comments – is about creating better value for customers and therefore driving business growth.

McEwan and Bird say this is something that the whole company must get involved with, whether that be the people on the shop floor, the call centre, in research and development or the group of people who call themselves the ‘marketing department’.

However, you could argue that the book’s full title: The Growth Drivers: The definitive guide to transforming marketing capabilities, should drop the words ‘marketing capabilities’ and perhaps replace them with ‘business’.

After all, the book includes a full explanation of how marketing touches every aspect of a business and the importance of understanding that, which means reaching a broader audience.

Even seeing the word ‘marketing’ on the cover might mean chief executives, HR directors or chief information officers think that it’s not for them. But all functions of a business could read this to see if it affects how their brands grow.

Bird and McEwan recommend putting in place a programme to help marketers be the best they can at their jobs and improve the marketing capability of the whole organisation.

Here’s an edited Q&A from the book that everyone can do to see how fit their business is to grow and the questions they should ask in terms of developing a marketing capability programme.

Rate the answers on a scale of 1 (not at all) to 5 (completely).

1. How well does the chief executive or board understand the function of marketing, both in terms of the marketing function and through the whole business?

2. How committed are the chief executive and chief marketing officer to the need to build marketing capabilities to drive growth?

3. How clear is the vision for the role of marketing in the organisation?

4. How well-defined is the scope of marketing capability development? Is it focused on specific areas?

5. What are the most important issues and opportunities that have most impact on the role of marketing and commercial growth? Does everyone agree on these?

6. Is the overall goal of the marketing capability programme clear and linked to the business’ overall objectives?

7. How well-defined are specific capability development objectives, KPIs and the approach to tracking results?

8. How clear and focused is the strategy for the design of the capability programme?

9. How clear are the programme elements required to make the objectives happen?

10. What names, logos and positioning are being used internally to build awareness of the programme? Are these clear and compelling?

11. Who is responsible for the leadership, development and delivery of the programme? Are these roles clear?

12. What is the budget for this programme, is it commercially justified? What kind of people resource do you need to do it?

13. Is the overall plan clear, realistic and achievable in the time?

14. Is my role clear in this?


If you take the test, leave me a comment to let me know how you get on. Is there room for improvement or are you capable of tackling anything?

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