‘Brilliant marketers speak a simple language’

Marketers should make sure they speak to other departments, from sales to operations, “like human beings” to help get buy-in at their company for new product development and innovation.

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They should also make sure they present a portfolio of new products featuring a range of start up investment costs to earn the support of the finance director.

Three departmental directors handed out this advice to alumni of The Marketing Academy, the leadership mentoring initiative supported by Marketing Week at its latest boot camp dedicated to learning how to influence across an organisation.

Euan Smith, executive vice president of product and operations at Sky Deutschland, said: “You have to treat the person you are talking to as a human rather than just a function. A brilliant marketer will come and explain to you in simple words that you can understand and not claim to be the only person who can understand the customer – I promise you I can understand the customer too.”

Discussing funding for new product development, Aer Lingus chief financial officer Andrew McFarlane said: “What we can’t afford to do is to take 100 good ideas and invest in these upfront. The way to my heart for NPD is to have a portfolio of projects, of which some will have a short time to value and some longer. We can’t afford to invest in everything at the front end.”

The panel urged marketers to break out of their silos and create cross-functional teams, if this was not already happening, to produce the best work for their companies.

Sales director Adam Peasey, who has worked at Procter & Gamble, United Biscuits and with the ONE brand. said: “It’s a multifunctional world now and has been for a while.”

The panel said that they all valued the work of marketers who helped companies take the risks without which they would become moribund and fail.

Peasey said: “Most organisations that are ground-breaking would rather take 10 staggering steps forward that four perfect ones.”

Contradicting a view that “traditional” marketers were losing board room influence to new roles, such as chief risk officers, and to new disciplines based on customer insight and data, Peasey said: “I think marketing is going to become more and more important. I think from an FMCG point of view right now the sector is in a bit of a rut and is not quite sure of the right way out. The problem is getting out of the cycle of volume deals [with retailers] and I hope a generation of marketers can lead us out of that.”

Smith added: “Marketing is not a cost. The point of the marketer is that they think differently to us [operations]. If we all had the same KPIs we would be out of business next year.”

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