Marketing Week/Ball & Hoolahan Marketing Salary Survey 2008

Marketing%20Week%20Cover%20Salary%20Survey%202008Marketer’s salaries rose by 6.7% in 2007, taking their average income to 48.627. But the temptation to progress a career by moving up and out remains very strong and employers must offer additional benefits that will increase staff loyalty. By Roy Hoolahan and David Reed

Are companies having to work harder to keep their best marketers? There has always been intense competition, leading to salary inflation. But now, the Marketing Week/Ball & Hoolahan Salary Survey 2008 presents evidence that marketers want a more rounded package. Asked what is most important to them, respondents gave holiday entitlement a high score (1.4 in a range from -2 to 2). This was sandwiched by friendly environment (1.5) and higher base salary/fewer benefits (1.2). Meanwhile, flexible working scored 1.0.

In other words, there is both a strong desire for stability and more time spent away from work. After years of instability, organisational restructuring, pressure on budgets and staff cuts, the marketing department appears to want to feel a bit more loved.

Not that money no longer matters. The mean salary increase received in the past 12 months was 6.7%, taking the average income for marketers to £48,627. At twice the average income in the UK, that is worth putting up with a lot of change for, even if the overall rise in salaries was half that in last year’s survey (12.1%).

Relative maturity
Indeed, one third of respondents are earning above the average with 3% on more than £120,000, or three times the mean. This may reflect the relative maturity of marketing as a profession, with 38% working in the sector for 13 years or more.

In that respect, marketing managers and marketing services managers are the most typical with near average incomes of around £45,000 (Table 1). But as in previous years, male marketing managers are more equal than female ones, pulling in an additional £5,000 a year.

A more extreme pay divide exists among marketing directors, where men get double the average salary at £89,662, while women get nearly one quarter less with £72,916. The worst pay gaps are in product management, where female managers get 18% less than their male colleagues, while female assistants can expect their pay rate to lag behind men to the same degree. Other management and executive positions across marketing tend to have more equal incomes. Only two jobs have a reverse disparity – female market research directors earn 6% more than the average for males, while women working as online marketing managers get 4% more on average than men.

Of course, marketers are as self-interested as they are socially conscious (26% are very interested in finding a more socially fulfilling role, but 25% have no interest at all in this). This can be seen in the substantial gap between the top 10% of earners and the rest. Marketing directors sit at the top of the heap (Table 2), with the leading 10% getting over £180,000 a year, more than double the average for that job. Other directors in the marketing department do not come close – marketing services directors earn just over £100,000 and market research directors get £85,000.

Fast-track marketing managers can earn 50% above the average, as seen among the top 10% of earners. Online marketing is also emerging as a route to good fortune – the top 10% in this position are earning 44% more than the average.

Average pay rises for this job function were also the highest, at 10.5% compared to an overall average of 6.7%, and these individuals are optimistic about their pay rises for next year, too, forecasting 6.9% against an overall average expected of 5.2% (Tables 5 and 6). Marketing services manager is an even better bet for a good salary, with a 55% difference between the income of the top 10% and the mean. There was a good pay rise in this function this year, with a 7.4% bump – the third highest across all positions.

Income is less closely related to marketing budget (Table 3) than it is to industry sector (Table 4). The highest-earning marketing directors continue to be in financial services, with packaged goods and IT close behind. Working as a consultant does not have to mean a drop in income, based on the nearly £86,000 average declared by respondents from this sector. That may be why 39% of respondents who were thinking of changing jobs said marketing services would be the most attractive sector, far above the next most popular industry, travel and leisure, named by 29% as most appealing for a career change. Packaged goods was ranked third with 28% attracted to it.

Surprisingly, the lowest scores were for some media sectors, with cable and satellite scoring only 8% and outdoor 6%. Durables also only scored 8%, and IT jobs (manufacturing and services) appealed to only 10%.

When asked directly which sectors are the least appealing, healthcare and pharmaceutical got the strongest score with 37% and durables with 35%. But IT followed closely on 35% and financial services on 34%.

Classic sectors
These are some of the classic sectors which have driven marketing in the past decade and yet may now struggle to attract the best candidates. The durables category includes automotive, for example, but over one third of marketers do not want to work in it. Equally, packaged goods is a turn-off for 28%.

Without a sense of where good candidates are likely to want to go, it is hard for employers to benchmark their own proposition. So the poor scores for sectors that might once have been expected to lure good marketers might seem like good news, since it means there is less competition. In reality, it also makes it harder to know what best practice looks like.

Benefits are one obvious area for comparison, aside from salary, even if there is a trend for marketers wanting a better basic with fewer perks. Nine out of ten get additional benefits – the nature of these is changing rapidly as employers look to add to the total package without distorting their internal pay structures.

Bonuses are an obvious way to add discretionary remuneration to the basic pay package. Two-thirds of the survey’s respondents get a company performance-related bonus and six out of ten a personal performance-related bonus – the most common extra benefits after contributory pensions. These can really bulk up income – marketing directors saw an extra 12.3% on average from personal performance bonuses and 7.3% from company performance bonuses (Table 10). Only marketing services directors did better (14.3%) from personal performance-related schemes, followed by online marketing executives (13.7%).

Even so, marketers still lack a degree of financial sophistication when it comes to making provision for their future – 14% pay nothing into a pension plan, while 40% only put between 1 and 4.9% of their salary. Just 6% are investing more than 10% of their income and are therefore likely to enjoy the same standard of living after retirement as they do now. These bonuses are a good sign that some of the entrepreneurial dynamism is returning to the discipline of marketing after years in which the introduction of procurement procedures and lower discretionary budget allocations have made the job less free-wheeling.

Surprisingly, then, share option schemes are still only enjoyed by one quarter of marketers (although this may reflect the profile of respondents being largely managers, rather than directors). Private medical insurance is part of the deal for 60% – marketers do business-critical jobs so need to take as few sick days as possible.

Yet it is not financial remuneration which is the prime motivation for changing jobs. One third of the whole sample say they would move for a new challenge. This is highest among marketing directors (47%) who seem most likely to be at risk of defecting through boredom ( Table 9).

That is not to say marketers will not jump ship for a better deal – where a different position is on offer externally, 31% would take it for the higher rewards available. In contrast, 25% would be attracted by an internal promotion. And marketers remain highly mobile – 58% would move abroad for their career. They are also ambitious, with the opportunity to advance rated 1.5, high financial rewards rated 1.4 and challenging work rated 1.3. That is what you expect marketers to be like – keen to get on, move on and make it.

Years of restructuring of the marketing department have had an effect, however. This is reflected in the score of 1.2 given to job security. As in previous years, 62% say their department has undergone change over the past year.

But the tide might finally have turned. Restructuring meant a cut in staff numbers for 21% of all respondents, the lowest figure in three years, and the loss of headcount was limited to no more than four people at 63% of affected companies.

Compared to this, 46% actually increased their headcount – also the highest figure for three years – with 66% of these departments adding up to four staff. This may be why a bare majority do not expect any further restructuring in the coming year, the first time there has been an overall positive in recent years.

Long-term careers
So is the velocity of marketing recruitment and employment showing any sign of slowing? On the one hand, marketers show a stability in their chosen profession, with long-term careers – 32% have been in their profession for between five and nine years and 36% for ten years or more.

On the other hand, 16% have been in their current job for less than six months, another 16% for between seven and 12 months and one third for one to two years. Just under one in five have been working in the same position for between three and four years.

So the temptation to progress a career by moving up and out remains very strong. This creates a carrousel effect in which there is a constant stream of opportunities created by marketers leaving their existing jobs that draws in others, thereby opening up vacancies.

It will be interesting to see whether the growing use of performance-related bonuses and their considerable value will do anything to slow this process. With low inflation, most companies do not offer substantial pay rises as part of statutory reviews – the big bumps in salaries come from changing employer.

Loyalty is hard to buy through financial incentives, but it can be lost that way. For 12% of marketers, this year saw their company move them from a final salary pension scheme into another arrangement. Not surprisingly, 34% of those affected said it had reduced their loyalty.

You could argue that, with 81% of marketers expecting to change job within three years, loyalty is in short supply in this profession. But then marketers might give the counter-argument that their jobs are constantly being cut or redefined.

As a career, there is still plenty to recommend marketing – and there is certainly money to be made from it. If employers do respond to the changing demands for a better overall package, marketers may be tempted to stay just that little bit longer.


Key Points 

  • Average salary rises slowed last year to 6.7%. Across all job titles in the survey, the average salary was £48,627, compared with an average last year of £46,310. 
  • The highest reported average rise was for online marketing managers, who received an increase of 10.5%. Marketing directors continued the strong growth trend in their salaries with an average increase of 8.4%.
  • Marketing directors continue to be the biggest earners with an average of £83,982, although female marketing directors still lag significantly behind their male colleagues, with an average salary of £72,916 compared with £89,662. This is the biggest gender pay gap for any marketing position surveyed. 
  • The average salary for marketing managers was £44,692, up from £42,950 in the last survey. Female marketing managers earn 89% of their male colleagues’ salaries, a slight reduction in the pay gap over last year. 
  • The upper echelons of the marketing profession are very well taken care of with the top 10% of marketing directors earning more than double the average at £180,714. Other directors do well, but less so – marketing services directors in the top 10% are on an average of £102,777 (67% above the average) while market research directors get £85,000 (42% higher than average). 
  • Marketing managers in the top 10% earn 70% above the average at £68,437 and product/brand managers get £66,333, 63% above average. 
  • Bonuses are a big feature of benefits packages for around two-thirds of marketers. Personal performance-related rewards yield the biggest increase in incomes, ranging from 14.3% of salary for marketing services directors to just 2.3% for graduate trainees and marketing assistants. 
  • Company performance-related bonuses also provide good yields, ranging from 10.3% for marketing research managers down to 3.2% for online marketing managers. Marketing directors pulled in an average company bonus of 7.3% – combined with personal bonuses, they gained an additional 20% on top of their salaries.



The annual salary survey, of which this is the 25th, has always been acknowledged as an authoritative and unique guide to pay and benefit conditions and expectations in the marketing industry. As well as acting as a benchmark to marketers of their earning power, it is a valuable tool for employers who wish to recruit and retain marketing professionals.

Research was carried out by Compass Research. The report is based on 1,283 responses overall (11%), gathered through an online survey in October and November 2007 by Marketing Week of over 11,000 readers.

The sample was split 39% men and 61% women. 6% of respondents held the most senior positions of chairman/chief executive/ managing director, while 11% were marketing directors and 5% were marketing services directors. Marketing managers made up the main job function covered (25%), indicating the breadth of roles that this title covers.

The next main groups were product/brand manager at 12% of the sample (including group and senior product/ brand manager); marketing services executive (12%); marketing assistant /graduate trainee (4%); other titles together accounted for 25% of respondents, covering marketing research director or manager, marketing services manager, online marketing manager or executive, DM/CRM insight director or manager. Marketing services includes these areas: Ad/PR, direct marketing, communications and promotional marketing.

In terms of ages 28% of the sample were 27 and 30 years old; 26% were between 31 and 35; 16% were aged between 36 and 40; and 10% were 26 and under.

In the main version of the survey, there is a full set of tables, including numerous cross-tabulations. Tables are priced at £135.

Specially tailored analyses are available on request from Hugh Pinnock at Compass Research (01980 619018) or via e-mail: See the order form opposite for a copy of the Marketing Week/Ball & Hoolahan Marketing Survey 2008.

Copies of the report on the Marketing Week/Ball & Hoolahan Salary Survey 2008 are available from Marva Hudson,
Marketing Week,
50 Poland Street,
London W1F 7AX.
Tel: 020 7970 6301
or fax 020 7907 6722.
The price is £135 (including P&P). More detailed, tailor-made reports are available on request from Hugh Pinnock at Compass Research. Please make cheques payable to Marketing Week.


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