Marketers are frustrated by the lack of opportunity for career progression at a time when salary growth is flat and most are working beyond their contracted hours, according to the annual Marketing Week Career and Salary Survey. It shows that marketers remain intensely ambitious as a profession, but that employers are failing to meet the demand for new challenges and greater financial recognition despite more than half putting in over 2.5 hours extra work each week.
The research is part of a collaboration with Marketing Week’s sister brands Econsultancy, Design Week and Creative Review to survey more than 8,500 people across the marketing, digital, design and advertising industries. The data analysed in this article focuses on those in the sample who classify themselves as general marketing and digital professionals, numbering over 4,300 people.
It reveals that while 68% of marketers class opportunity for career progression as ‘very important’, only 14% feel their employer does ‘very well’ at offering it. More than two in five (42%) believe their employer is not providing adequate scope for career advancement, though conversely, 44% do believe their company is ‘fairly’ good at supporting career ambitions.
One of marketers’ biggest issues is lack of access to training; only 16% say their company does this ‘very well’ despite 89% rating training as important to them.
Jeremy Ellis, marketing and customer experience director at travel group TUI, says that although it is partly down to individuals to think proactively about how they can grow their roles within a company, it is also the responsibility of business leaders to identify and promote the best performers. TUI has a global talent management programme through which the board identifies opportunities to move people into available jobs or create new roles where appropriate.
“Marketing is not just communications – it’s increasingly about how the brand lives and breathes in the real world,” says Ellis. “It’s important for people to develop their skills from a customer-facing point of view.”
Although 55% of marketers are content in their current role, more than a quarter (26%) state they are unhappy – the same figure as 2015. In addition, 82% plan to leave their job within the next three years, up one percentage point on last year.
Better financial remuneration is again the main reason for marketers to consider a job change, though this is down slightly from 69% last year to 65% in 2016, while the desire for a new challenge (59%) and concerns about the lack of opportunity at existing employers (39%) score highly this year.
The lack of growth in average salary levels may be adding to marketers’ frustrations. The average salary of a marketing director or head of marketing in this year’s survey is £68,345, for example, down 2.7% on last year (£70,215). Marketing managers have also experienced a drop, with their average salary down 3.5% to £39,156. As the results are not weighted and this year’s research sample is larger than last year’s group, these figures may be skewed by more lower-paid people taking the survey.
Despite predictions of the demise of digital-specific job roles from commentators including Marketing Week columnist Mark Ritson, the data indicates that the average salary for digital specialists has risen above that of general marketers. Indeed, although the average salary of a CMO is down 11% to £125,921 in this year’s survey, the pay of chief digital officers is up 16% to £86,176. However, this trend is not conclusive as the samples for these job categories are very small.
The struggle for work-life balance
For the first time, the Marketing Week Career and Salary Survey asks marketers to calculate how much time they spend working beyond their contracted hours. It finds that more than a third of marketers (39%) work at least five additional hours each week, while 12% regularly do more than 10 extra hours. Only 11% say they do not exceed their contracted daily hours.
A breakdown of this overtime by job category suggests that senior marketers are working significantly longer hours than their junior counterparts. For example, 44% of board-level marketers state they work 10 or more hours over their standard contract, versus only 10% of junior managers who put in the same time.
However, senior marketers receive significantly better perks for their efforts, with 62% of board directors confirming they receive private medical insurance as part of their remuneration package. This compares to 38% of junior managers. Meanwhile, more than half of department managers (54%) receive performance-related bonuses versus 32% of assistant-level marketers.
Looking across all levels of seniority, only 10% of marketers are totally convinced that the financial rewards they receive are fair, compared to nearly half (47%) who are not satisfied that their employer is providing fair remuneration.
Given that 54% of respondents say their marketing department has undergone a reorganisation or restructure in the past 12 months, and a significant proportion have also seen an increase in marketing personnel (34%) and budgets (29%), many marketers may expect to receive better remuneration packages going forward.
In addition, 28% report that their marketing department is working on a greater number of brands or categories than it was a year ago. Despite these pressures, 75% of marketers believe their employer affords them a fairly good or very good degree of autonomy in their role, while 36% say they have access to flexible working contracts if they wish.
Louisa Loran, global marketing director at shipping company Maersk Line, notes that the rise of digital technology has reshaped the way marketers work, providing greater flexibility but also putting more demands on their time. “In any global company, marketing is becoming more and more real-time,” she says.
“That requires you to be ‘on’ a lot more. In the old days, you could say ‘I’ve bought my media, it’s going to run on this day and I’ll get a report about it the following week’. That’s no longer the case. There is less opportunity to switch off today [than before] and much more of a need to react to what is happening.”
Climbing the career ladder
Marketers are divided about the sectors in which they would most like to work, regardless of whether they are considering a job move. The most popular choice is the entertainment industry, selected by 33% of respondents. This is followed by travel and leisure (31%), retail and ecommerce (29%) and agency or consultancy work (25%).
Entertainment is not the best paying option, however, with average marketing salaries in this sector standing at £39,384. This is dwarfed by the FMCG sector, which boasts the highest average salary of £47,106, followed by gaming and gambling (£45,519) and telecommunications (£43,625).
Despite most marketers confirming that they want to move job in the next three years, only 4% say they aim to exit the profession entirely. Furthermore, 57% plan to improve their marketing skills by signing up for marketing-related qualifications or training in the future, however only 42% of respondents have undertaken and completed a marketing course to date.
Paul Harris, CMO at B2B software firm BrightHR, argues that having the right attitude is more important than having specific skills. “Our view here – and it’s not just for marketing but for everybody – is that it’s ‘culture first’,” he explains.
“I will always recruit based on the person [I am presented with] because you can’t train someone to be a great person. You can’t train them to be energetic, optimistic and positive, and to have all the right attitudes and behaviours, but you can train them to understand search engine optimisation and pay-per-click and all the specific skills.”
Harris also points out that in small businesses like his, it is difficult to continuously promote people because of the limited number of roles. Company culture is therefore vitally important to making people feel valued, he argues. This could include helping people to learn new skills or rewarding them for taking on new responsibilities.
“People make the mistake of thinking that progression and fulfilment at work is all about job titles and money, but it isn’t,” says Harris. “If people can be fulfilled by doing a job that they love and by feeling respected and trusted, they will be much happier.”
There are encouraging signs for the profession in this regard as most marketers (77%) agree that their employer offers a good working environment and 60% believe their company communicates a clear vision, while 80% feel adequately challenged by their work.
Diversity issues and gender pay gap persists
The Career and Salary Survey confirms findings revealed by a Marketing Week investigation last year, that minority groups are significantly under-represented within the profession. Nearly a quarter of respondents (23%) say that people with disabilities are not at all represented within their company, while 9% state the same about ethnic minorities. The previous study found that 51% of marketers said there were no people with physical or mental disabilities within their department and 26% reported the same for ethnic minorities.
However, despite this lack of representation, there is no conclusive evidence that the experience of these specific groups at work is any different from the opinion of the marketing community in general. A breakdown of the answers from all non-white respondents (471 people), for example, shows that the exact same proportion of people (26%) feel unhappy in their jobs, while 81% – only one percentage point lower than the figure for all respondents – plan to leave their job in the next three years.
Although it is difficult to find divergent opinions here, there are signs that marketing’s continued failure to address the gender pay gap is having a detrimental effect. Men continue to earn significantly more, with an average salary of £42,303 compared to £35,005 for women. That means that men earn an extra 21%, equivalent to an additional £7,298 per year. Men earned 21% more than women on average last year too, which shows that the pay gap has not improved over the past 12 months.
The gender pay gap persists at all levels of seniority, with higher disparities for more senior positions. Male marketing directors earn £79,683 on average, for example, compared to £61,507 for women in the same position. Lower down the managerial ladder the gap is smaller but men still earn more. Male brand managers take home £42,738 compared to £39,166 for female brand managers.
Ongoing concerns over pay may explain why a higher proportion of women (29%) say they are unhappy in their job compared to men (24%). Not surprisingly, more women (51%)than men (46%) also believe that their employer is failing to provide fair financial rewards.
Given the large proportion of marketers who are struggling to find new career opportunities, employers must work hard to identify these frustrations and find new ways of meeting their workforce’s aspirations.