Russell Parsons: Marketing outsiders add value but don’t lose sight of the basics

Attempting to sum up his love of post punk band The Fall, legendary broadcaster the late John Peel said of the group, “They’re always different but always the same”.

Peel’s words were ringing in my ears when reviewing the big subjects covered by Marketing Week this week.

Asda replaced marketing boss Steve Smith last week with someone who doesn’t have a traditional background in marketing, chief merchandising officer Barry Williams. The supermarket is one of a growing number of brands looking for skills beyond purely a history in branding and campaigns.

It is a point underlined in the excellent Careers Special. The issue of ‘marketing outsiders’, the growing band of marketers without marketing qualifications and skill sets more akin to technology roles than marketing, is explored.

The digital and data driven revolution that allows for precision targeting and presents a dizzying array of channels to reach people is behind the need for a more multi-skilled marketing team.

However, the panoply of skills evident within a marketing team are best harnessed when underpinned by the basics tenets of marketing. All the data and technological advancements Silicon Valley can pump out are useless if not led by marketing leaders who can answer the question ‘is this the best way to serve my customers?’. The subject of our lead story, Camelot UK CEO Andy Duncan, puts it best when considering the nature of marketing here. He says: “It’s also about some of the classic principles of marketing that have gone unchanged for 25 years. It’s about insight and understanding your consumer, it’s about having the ability to be very strategic and creative.” Marketing: always different, always the same.

This is my first week as Marketing Week editor and it is an honour to lead a great title reporting on such an innovative industry full of inspirational protagonists. We will, of course, continue to analyse the major shifts in marketing but will not lose sight of the everyday concerns of marketers. If you have any feedback on how Marketing Week can better serve you, please get in touch.

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