Your five-step guide to achieving greater influence and impact

There is a looming crisis in marketing – fear over diminishing influence and lessening impact. There is, however, plenty marketers can do to address the situation.

Influence leadershipInfluence, or more pointedly the lack of it, is consistently offered as the biggest concern among senior marketers I speak to.

The CMO being reduced to the role of tactician with strategy conceived and delivered elsewhere is the most diplomatic complaint. Marketers being at the mercy of others in the organisation who believe they can do the job better than marketers, is one of the most brutal.

The reasons behind the grumbling are many and varied. The pressure to sideline long-term activity in the face of financial instability and economic uncertainty leaving marketers marginalised is one. The lack of confidence in marketing’s virtues among marketers themselves is another factor.

It’s certainly one that needs addressing. And urgently. You will have noticed lots of content published by Marketing Week recently aimed at addressing this most fundamental of issues. They, and others still to be published, address not one but two immediate concerns: how marketers can grow their influence and deliver greater impact.

Here are my takeaways:

Take inspiration from others

Our inaugural Top 100, published online and in our magazine this month, is a collection of the most effective marketers across 10 sector groupings. It was chosen from a long list by a stellar judging panel, who were asked to consider business success, innovation and influence when choosing their top 10s.

It is intended as a starting point to determine the anatomy of marketing leadership. What it shows is there an extraordinary depth and breadth of talented marketers in the UK.

READ MORE: Marketing Week Top 100 – The most effective marketers in the UK

Love what you do

Reinvention is in the air. Perhaps unsurprising for a function responsible for rebranding and resonance, there is a trend for swapping out the CMO or marketing director role for something broader and arguably more dynamic.

Chief customer officer, chief growth officer and others are becoming increasingly common. This is a reflection of marketing’s wider remit and a means to underline that a marketer’s role is about more than comms, argue some. But could it also be pointless window dressing demonstrative of why marketing should be shut out of the c-suite? That is what our columnist Mark Ritson has suggested.

My thoughts? The job of marketing is great as it is and is as relevant as it ever was. Realise this, and good things will follow.

Try something new

If complex hierarchical structures and cumbersome cultures are proving restrictive, it may be time to swap the sprawling multinational beset by legacy thinking for somewhere new and nimbler where you can exert more influence.

There is a romanticism surrounding startups and disruptors that often irks. There is, however, an undeniable allure for those marketers frustrated with their corporate lot. We recently heard from marketers about the possibilities and pitfalls if you are thinking about taking the plunge.

Meet the marketers who swapped big business for the startup world

Learn how to do stuff

“It’s hard enough to be a marketer, without adding the rigours of leadership and storytelling on top,” writes Helen Edwards.

This is not a call for submission, or an admission that influence and leadership is beyond marketers. It’s a call to lead through demonstrating how to achieve utopia, not just a description of the end game.

“Real marketers never confuse vision for strategy. Real leaders are unafraid of detail and data. And real storytellers do not merely tease with the ‘who’, ‘what’ and ‘why’ – but illuminate, surprise and excite with the ‘how’,” she adds.

Focus on growth, creativity and stakeholder engagement

Herein lies the silver bullet. Analysing the attributes of the Top 100 and reflecting on how marketers can claw back lost influence, some of our judges offered their cut-out-and-keep guide to future success. The need to align company and customer, demonstrate creative problem solving and getting buy-in from colleagues through effective communication might seem like a 101 guide to greater influence but it’s worth stating the obvious one more time.

How marketers can win over the C-suite

Being a marketer is a wonderful thing. You have the opportunity to build businesses, drive growth, and help conceive, position, deliver and communicate products and services that make a difference in people’s lives. Influence, and impact, should be a given. Marketers should be at the centre of all business success stories. That they are being written out is baffling. There is so much to celebrate. So much achievement to admire.

Take heed and inspiration from our features. I can’t guarantee career success, but I hope at the very least they help you realise the influence you already have.

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Comments

There are 2 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Richard Fullerton 24 Oct 2019

    Interesting article, Russell. I think you touch on some important issues but I think your piece is too focused on big orgs. What SMEs have CMOs? Most companies are SMEs. They have Marketing Managers/Directors. I also think that looking to the top 100 marketers isn’t that helpful. Very few marketers find themselves in a position where they can influence the company largely because the management don’t understand marketing and are after ‘quick wins’ and won’t countenance long-term work like brand building, database building and yes, relationship marketing. I don’t think marketing is exciting anymore and that’s part of the problem. Creativity is down. Budgets are down. Morale is down. The only thing up is demand – demand for results but with less money and effort.

    • Russell Parsons 25 Oct 2019

      Thanks Richard. I agree there is a trust issue. And I agree marketers have seen their influence diminish. Marketing is a job that others in positions of authority think they can do better than marketers in many cases. There are many blessed with huge budgets that are suffering from being reduced to executors of others’ strategy. It’s not just those in small companies whose jobs have been reduced to efficient use of a communications budget. The Top 100 were selected as those that are making a difference. It was supposed to act as inspiration. I would be really interested in examples of marketers who are bucking the trend in their organisations too. Happy to continue the conversation russell.parsons@centaurmedia.com

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