‘Marketers need to be better at marketing themselves’

ISBA Conference 2014: Marketers need to be better at marketing themselves, the discipline and their skills to executive colleagues or they will only ever be “wheeled out by the board to talk about advertising”.

Former Virgin Media CMO Jeff Dodds and William Hill CMO Kristof Fahy issue a ’challenge to marketers’ wanting to progress to CEO roles.

 The call to action came from Jeff Dodds, former Virgin Media CMO and now CEO of TEL2 in Holland in a session about The Marketing Academy’s Fellowship Programme, which aims to equip top marketers with the skills to make the transition onto boards and into the CEO role, at the ISBA conference in London today (12 March).

Dodds said marketers do not do enough to address the confusion of many on boards that marketing is just about advertising.

“Good marketers spend most of their time looking at numbers, they are numerate and commercial. We [marketers] need to change perceptions or we will only ever be wheeled out to talk about ad campaigns at board meetings and not marketing.”

Dodds was presenting a three point “challenge to marketers”, alongside William Hill CMO Kristof Fahy to be taken more seriously by the c-suite.

Fahy said marketers need to adopt a CEO mindset by demonstrating wider thinking on matters such as technology trends and business risks as well as talking about marketing plans in terms of long-term business value.

Dodds said marketers shouldn’t get “too hung up” on the “intellectual arguments about CMOs becoming CEOs” – focusing on reports that demonstrate lack of career progression to the CEO role – “stop talking about it [promotion] and just get on with it”.

”I do wonder if we [marketers] are guilty of self-flagellation. Do facilities management professionals have the same arguments?” Dodds pondered.

Finally, Dodds said marketers eyeing a CEO role should find a company with problems that could be solved by “marketing thinking”. Referring to his new role, he added: “I have been hired because I have a marketing background and there are marketing problems to solve.”

Fahy, a member of William Hill’s executive team, added marketers should only aspire to be board members if being on the board was a by-product of being one of the company’s key decision makers.    

“I am glad I am not on the board as they [boards] can be boring as they deal with issues such as remuneration. On the executive you are part of the team that makes decisions. If your role becomes board level, great”.      

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