Marketing Week/Ball & Hoolahan Marketing Salary Survey 2009

Optimism is the default setting for marketers. It has to be when your job involves trying to change human behaviour. But the disruptive events of 2008 and gloomy forecasts for this year that put marketing budgets in the firing line, are expected to knock some of that confidence.

Optimism is the default setting for marketers. It has to be when your job involves trying to change human behaviour. But the disruptive events of 2008 and gloomy forecasts for this year that put marketing budgets in the firing line, are expected to knock some of that confidence.

Yet across the 1,516 respondents to this year’s Marketing Week Salary Survey, 60% said they were confident about their work situation for 2009. Men were sightly more optimistic than women (63% versus 58%) and the Welsh had the lowest confidence levels at just 47%. But most major marketing positions showed a glass-more-than-half-full attitude.

They have every reason to do so. Pay rises were experienced all round, while bonuses were paid across the board. Working in marketing, with its above national average incomes, raft of additional benefits and continued opportunities is still a good job to have.

There are even signs that marketers are seeing an upside to the downturn. Looking ahead 12 months, 41% said it would provide an opportunity to exploit their skills and 16% identified the economy itself as offering potential.

Not that marketers are entirely unaware of the threats to their departments. The economy was named by 28% as the main problem for 2009, while 26% expressed a fear of redundancy, 22% expect pressure on costs and 18% anticipate a shortage of jobs.

So could a slowdown in the economy lead to a slowdown in the marketing jobs merry-go-round? Not for 37% of respondents who say they are likely to change jobs during 2009 or for the 41% who expect to change jobs in the next two or three years.

Job mobility remains a major feature of the marketing career path. That does not mean geographical mobility – only 7% of those considering a job change will do so in order to work in a different location, while only 4% plan to move abroad.

Instead, new challenges (28%) and money (19%) continue to be the main motivations for moving on. Often this is because the current company offers only limited opportunities, according to 14%, or changing jobs is the only way to gain promotion (7%).

Marketers expect to be paid well and to have interesting work to do, otherwise they will move on. That is why, across the board, salaries in marketing departments remain very healthy. Director-level posts command the best incomes, with marketing directors receiving a mean of £77,800, market research directors £76,300, marketing services directors £61,300, communications directors £75,400 and DM or CRM directors £75,500.

At manager level, there is a much wider variation in salaries. Group brand managers earn an average of £65,300, compared to a mean of £35,600 for regular brand managers and £40,600 for marketing managers. Market research managers earn £41,300, yet those in marketing services get £35,200 on average and communications managers £38,600.

In the newer disciplines, there is no obvious premium for skills – online marketing managers earn an average of £38,600, with DM/CRM managers getting £41,400. Yet there remains a premium on gender – overall, male marketers across all jobs are earning above the average at £81,900 compared with the below-average £70,200 for women. This is despite the gender imbalance in this survey of women holding 60% of all posts.

Marketers may be looking to leverage their own skills in the job market this year. For the industry as a whole, the good news is that entry level positions, such as graduate trainees and marketing assistants, earn an average of £21,400. As a starting salary, that will look attractive to graduates leaving university this year, reducing any potential skills gap towards the end of the decade.

As any good marketer will tell you, there is no such thing as the average customer. The benchmark for most in the industry is what the top performers are earning. Dividing salaries into deciles shows two things. The first is that the top 50% of marketers earn an average of £51,500 against an overall average of £43,100.

The second is that the top 10% of earners are on significantly higher salaries with a mean of £75,000. In some posts this differential is very high. Among the highest paid 10% of marketing directors, the average salary is £135,000 – virtually double the overall average. There is a similar stand-out figure for top market research directors of £135,000, while DM/CRM directors in the top echelon are on £115,000.

It is clear that there is still significant headroom for any marketer thinking of changing jobs in order to earn more this year. A skilled marketer can change companies and gain a big bump in income without having to face the risk of moving sector or even of moving house.

Even if most marketers will change their job every 18 to 24 months, there is still very little mobility between industry sectors. This may explain why huge differences exist for the same job in different types of business.

Marketing directors earn well above average in automotive (£115,000), retail (£95,000) and financial services (£92,600). The ultimate house job – marketing director of an advertising agency – also commands an average of £92,900.

By contrast, marketing directors of marketing consultancies are on just £52,800. Those in the charity or public sectors average £55,000, while publishing offers £60,900. These differences are significantly less marked in other positions, such as marketing manager, brand manager or marketing services manager.

It suggests that the specialist knowledge built up during a career within specific vertical industries really pays off once a marketer gets a directorship in one of those companies. Moving into the highest-paid industry sectors needs to be done early on, however, otherwise that premium might never be realised.

Last year was the first in more than a decade when inflation began to be identified as a possible threat. It is easy to forget now, given the downward pressure on prices, that the inflation rate in the consumer price index had shot up to over 5% in late summer, before ultimately falling back below 4% by the year’s end.

For the 86% of marketers who reported getting a pay rise last year, that will have had an interesting effect. With an overall average rise of 5.53%, most marketers will have felt that their disposable income was only just treading water – an unusual experience for this industry, which has historically been given inflation-busting rises.

Some job functions will have been better insulated from soaring energy and food prices, however. Group and senior brand managers were well ahead of others, at rises of 7% and 7.63% respectively, while market research directors got an average increase of 7.82%. Most other rises were closer to the overall increase.

Looking ahead, marketers have always pretended to modesty about the rises they expect in the next 12 months. Perhaps with one eye on the simmering threat to jobs, as a group, respondents are forecasting just 4.08% extra during 2009.

Even so, this could end up being twice the rate of inflation. And some job functions are clearly looking to cash in on their specialist skills – DM/CRM directors expect to see a 7.1% rise in their salaries, perhaps as companies look to make their marketing yet more efficient and focus on retention.

An aversion to geographical mobility may not be a disadvantage when trying to achieve that pay rise. The long-standing differential between pay rates for US-owned and non-US owned companies has disappeared or is marginal in 13 out of the 19 job titles surveyed.

Only two show a significant degree of variation – marketing directors, where US-owned companies are paying an average of £92,800 compared to £73,200 at non-US-owned businesses, and communications directors, who get £87,000 on average at American companies against £71,500 in others.

Another disconnect exists between average salaries and marketing budgets. Only among marketing directors is there an obvious correlation, but it is not linear, instead it peaks in companies spending between £55.1m and £99m. Other job titles show little linkage between the two.

Alongside a healthy salary, marketers generally also get other benefits. For 77% of respondents, a wide range of additions to their pay are enjoyed. The commonest of these is a contributory pension (64%). On average, companies paid 5.97% of salary into these pension schemes.

Private medical insurance is also extended to 64% of marketers, while one-third get life insurance. Company credit cards are issued to 28%, while 27% are offered share options. Travel expenses are available to 26%, and 25% have a car allowance and 20% a season ticket loan. Cars are only given to 17%.

Working arrangement benefits are less widespread, even childcare arrangements or vouchers, which only 20% can claim. Flexible working is open to one-quarter of respondents. Career breaks can only be taken by 8%, however.

Bonus culture has been blamed for leading to excessive risk-taking by banks, ultimately creating the toxic assets that triggered the credit crunch. Risk-taking is the very essence of marketing, so it is no surprise that bonuses are a major part of the extra benefits given to marketers.

Half or more of marketers enjoy these, with 56% on a company performance-related bonus and 50% on personal performance-related rewards. Director-level positions are the most likely to be given these extra incentives for performance.

Relatively few of these bonuses are guaranteed – only 19% of marketers said they could rely on getting extra cash from their employer. For this group, the average bonus was 9.83%. (Those job titles showing bonus levels significantly above this were reporting from a low base of respondents.)

Personal performance-related bonuses were still a good bet. Overall, they yielded 10.42% to those marketers who enjoyed them. Marketing directors and group brand managers both managed to pull down bonuses of 15.3%, while communications directors added 17.75% to their salary from these incentives.

For marketers, then, this year remains one in which personal ambitions can still be realised in terms of achieving higher income. It is unlikely that the current recession will feed through into lower salaries for established positions for some time. That some of those jobs will no longer exist is still a strong possibility, especially in industry sectors that are seeing major retrenchment.

That could make the limited lateral movement between industries among marketers something of a problem for those who do lose out. Retraining and refocusing of skills may be an important exercise for those under threat.

Marketers who keep their job this year should not only feel pleased with that fact, they should also recognise that theirs is a profession that wraps them in rewards, benefits and incentives for good performance. Having a job that is also closely aligned to the company’s general health may be uncomfortable at times, but the upsides far outweigh the downsides.

So confidence by the end of the year is likely to be higher, if anything. After all, it is to marketers that businesses will be turning for solutions to retention and growth challenges. That is what earns them a good salary.

Key Points

• The balance of optimism among marketers is strongly positive at 20% for those confidentabout their prospects compared with those who are not.
• Mean salary across all job titles covered in the survey is £43,100 – almost identical to the average earnings of a marketing manager (£40,600) or a market research manager (£41,300).
• Director-level marketers achieve the best salaries on average, with marketing directors getting a mean of £77,800, market research directors £76,300, communications directors £75,400 and DM/CRM directors £75,500. Notably, group brand managers earned an average of £65,300.
• Top earners are pulling well ahead of their peers. For marketing directors in the top 10% of earners, the average salary was £135,000, as it was for top market research directors, double the overall average.
• Marketing directors in other positions who outperform their peers on salary are DM/CRM directors (an average of £115,000 for the top 10%), marketing services directors (£113,000) and communications directors (£105,000).
• Manager-level marketers in the top bracket see less of a differential from the average – marketing managers in the top 10% earn £55,000, a premium of just over a third in income.
• Aside from marketing directors, there is little link between salary and company marketing expenditure. Automotive, retail and financial services are the top-paying industries.
• Salaries are still rising, with an average increase of 5.53% during 2008. However, the effects of inflation will mean marketers did not feel significantly better off.
• Job mobility remains high, with 37% of marketers expecting to change their job this year, chiefly for a new challenge (28%) or to earn more (19%).


Research was carried out by Marketing Week in association with Fusion Communications. In total, there were 1,516 responses to the online survey, which took place in November & December 2008.
The sample, from a wide range of industry sectors, was split 60% women and 40% men. 3% of respondents held the most senior positions of chairman/chief executive/managing director, while 9% were marketing directors and 3% were marketing services directors. Marketing managers made up the largest job function (31%), indicating the breadth of roles that this title covers.
The next biggest groups were marketing executive (13%), brand manager (10% – including group and senior brand manager), marketing services manager (7%), communications managers (5%), online marketing managers (4%), marketing assistant/ graduate trainee made up 3% of the sample and other titles together accounted for 12% of respondents.

Tailored analyses are available from Phil Redwood at Fusion (020 7269 1752) or via email:
Alternatively, copies of the report are available from Marva Hudson at Marketing Week, 50 Poland Street, London W1F 7AX. Tel: 020 7970 6301. The price is £150 (inc P&P)


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