Secret Marketer: Something is wrong with marketing’s reputation if even the IT team makes fun of us

A new week, a new Secret Marketer. I’m secretly hoping to be just as good as my predecessor. With a bit of luck, I’ll be able to match the weekly insights that helped me realise I’m not on my own here.

Working in marketing is a great career choice. It’s definitely fast-paced and it’s often creative. You need to really understand people and what makes them tick. There are lots of new channels to get our head around and loads of interesting media and technologies. It certainly makes it an even more fun career than when I started out: the only media I had to work with were newspapers, billboards, radio, TV, direct mail and even – heaven forbid – flyers.

However, I read Marketing Week’s article on the need to change marketing’s perceptions with interest – and with a pained look on my face. Partly because the headline rang true: ‘Not the colouring-in department’. No greater insult could be thrown at a marketing team.

What’s particularly annoying is that I’ve heard the same insult in my current company and a previous company from the same source: the IT team. Our reputation as marketers must be pretty appalling when we have IT insult us. Their reputation is so bad that they have a phrase that highlights their notoriety: ‘have you tried turning it off and on again?’.

As a board member, I get to see the real dynamics of what goes on behind the scenes in board meetings. Typically, there is lots of jockeying for position with the chairman and currying favour with the CEO. If the numbers are going in the right direction, life is a bit easier for everybody. But if they are more down than up, you can see the other members planning to get their retaliation in first.

Depending on the challenges at hand, the board view on marketing can vary from ‘we need the strategic input of marketing to meet our objectives’ to ‘you guys just execute’. And it can vary when the leadership changes. We have a new CEO, who comes from an operations background, and sees marketing as a communications activity that occurs at the end of a metaphorical production line. He has no frame of reference, as he did not engage with the marketing team in his previous company. Our former CEO was committed to the brand and knew what marketing could do for the business.

The new CEO, who is sharp in all respects and a likeable guy, is a long way behind on this. I have a meeting with him to explain exactly what Google AdWords is. I’m not fancying his chances of grasping the nuances of PPC, CPC, CPA, CPM, retargeting or bid management. I think I might leave programmatic advertising for another day. Wish me luck.

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