Salary Survey 2015: Reasons to cheer and despair

Marketing Week’s Salary Survey reveals high levels of unrest, negativity on job satisfaction and gender pay gaps.

Having a stable and committed workforce is one of the cornerstones of a consistently strong business performance, so it may worry employers to learn that 81% of marketers plan to leave their current job in the next three years, with 39% aiming to do so within the next 12 months, according to Marketing Week’s annual Salary Survey.

For the first time in 2015, we have collaborated with sister brands Econsultancy, Design Week and Creative Review to survey more than 5,500 people across the marketing, digital, design and advertising industries. The following data focuses on those who classify themselves as general marketing and digital professionals, numbering over 2,700 individuals.

Respondents’ alarming lack of attachment to their current jobs is just one of the findings that reveal marketers’ career expectations are not being met. Just as concerning is the fact that more than a quarter of marketers (26%) say they are unhappy in their current role.

“Businesses need to maintain a balanced perspective between encouraging stability and accepting that there will be some natural team turnover, which brings healthy new perspectives,” says Craig Inglis, director of marketing at John Lewis.

“The key is to put the conditions in place that allow people to thrive and to enjoy their working life. If you’re doing that and someone chooses to move on to a new challenge, that’s a success in my eyes.”

Find out more: Marketers risk burnout as stress levels rise

Seeking a new challenge is in fact why 62% of marketers plan to start looking for another job, because while 95% cite career development as a high priority, at present 43% feel their employers are not helping them sufficiently to achieve their ambitions.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, salary is another bone of contention and the main reason 69% of marketers will begin hunting for a new role. The vast majority (98%) suggest fair pay is important but 46% are not satisfied that their salary reflects this.

Indeed, the average salary for a marketing director or head of marketing has remained relatively flat at £70,215 compared to 2014 when the average salary for comparable job titles was £70,806, perhaps explaining why so many marketers are feeling disgruntled.

Marketing managers are faring better, with the average wage up 6% on 2013 at £40,573. Being a digital specialist doesn’t generally pay more though, and while CMOs earn £141,458 on average, respondents who identify themselves as chief digital officers receive almost half as much on average at £74,432. However the sample size for the latter group may not be robustly representative.

Marketers’ expectations at work versus reality

Most attractive sectors

Marketers working in gambling/gaming, FMCG, finance and consumer electronics roles are the highest paid, although there is a significant gap when looking at men and women’s salaries (see Gender gap persists, below). The best-paid sectors are not, however, the most highly sought-after. In fact, it is entertainment, retail and travel that are most appealing for women, while men are drawn towards technology and sport.

This is somewhat surprising since respondents say it is money first and foremost that drives them to seek new employment. Only 19% say a desire to move to a different industry sector is motivating their job search, though this is perhaps because they know it is difficult to do so without professional experience.

Keith Moor, chief marketing officer at Santander, reckons there are positive implications to the fact that so many marketers are looking for new opportunities, as it demonstrates that the job market is becoming more active and the economic outlook is improving after a long period of stagnation since the global financial crisis.

“People are always more mobile in buoyant economic situations because there are more jobs around so it is usually a sign of confidence,” he says.

Indeed, 37% of marketers have seen new roles created within their team over the past year and 60% reckon staffing levels will increase again in 2015, while 30% have seen an increase in marketing budgets.

“Having said that,” continues Moor, “I don’t think people moving around a lot is great for the industry. Some churn is good for businesses but stability is also important. Speaking as someone who has had a career in the same organisation I see the value in [being with a company for the long-term].”

Bartle Bogle Hegarty co-founder Sir John Hegarty believes the increasingly high turnover of staff is becoming an issue for agencies too.

“Today if marketing people are still around after 18 months I feel lucky and that is having a detrimental effect,” he told audiences at Posterscope’s The Pioneers event earlier this month. “There is absolutely no question about it.”

While many people will be moving job it is encouraging that the vast majority will be staying within marketing; just 5% plan to change career entirely. The majority wish to improve their professional knowledge, with 55% planning to undertake marketing-related qualifications or training in future. This is perhaps partly because only 44% have completed a marketing degree or specific training in this area to date.

Find out more: ‘Marketers must do more to overcome capability gap caused by shortage of specialist skills’

On another more positive note, 78% of marketers do feel a good working environment is being achieved where they are employed. And although a large proportion plan to look elsewhere for work, 79% do feel their current position is secure for the most part.

The best and worst paid sectors

Marketing is misunderstood

Just 37% of marketers feel marketing is completely understood by the rest of their company, which bodes ill for those hoping to ascend to a board role or enhance marketing’s strategic influence in their business.

There is some discrepancy between the views of senior and junior employees, with marketers lower down the pay scale being more inclined to cynicism. While 65% of business owners and 52% of board-level marketers reckon their company has a good grasp of what the function does, just 35% of junior managers and 32% of junior executives feel that is the case.

One of the more intriguing questions raised by Marketing Week’s survey is whether this is because senior marketers are better able to see the impact they have on overall business strategy; or whether younger marketers sense that their superiors don’t communicate marketing’s value as effectively as they need to.

The level of understanding varies quite considerably between sectors too, as marketers working in customer-focused categories such as FMCG, automotive and gambling/gaming feel their businesses have better knowledge of the discipline than those in education, professional services and charities.

Find out more: Halfords’ Jill McDonald on moving from CMO to CEO

“Banks have only just learned how to be customer-focused,” says Santander’s Moor. “If you look at the Unilevers, Procter & Gambles and Coca-Colas of this world, they have built marketing around the customer. Banks have got into it late and that’s why there have been some trust issues. Banks placed the emphasis on risk management and financial infrastructure, which, while important, means marketing was a secondary factor. But that is changing.”

It is in the more customer-facing businesses where marketing is represented at board level more often too. Around half of marketers at FMCG, retail and gaming firms claim that a marketer is present on the board of their company, while a mere 37% of marketers in professional services, the public sector, education and charities say the same.

Across all industries, the growth in marketers entering the board room is flat year-on-year, with 46% of respondents overall suggesting that marketing has a place on the board, compared to 45% last year.

John Lewis’ Inglis argues that marketers should be playing a bigger role within their business but in order to do so he believes they must think beyond their core discipline.

“Marketers must widen their influence by stepping out of the safe territory of marketing communications to contribute to and lead the broader agenda of their business. [They need to] demonstrate their worth by bringing a different perspective, rooted in the customer, to the board table,” he says.

Likewise, Moor believes it is taking a while for the next generation of more commercially-minded marketers to push through. He says: “Marketers need to stay numerate, talk the language of the business to gain credibility and stay close to strategic decision making rather than just produce marketing.”

The sectors where marketing is most and least ‘completely understood’

Gender gap persists

The pay gap between male and female marketers who answered the Salary Survey has narrowed since 2014, although men do still get paid considerably more. Their average salary is now £47,569, which is 15% lower than in 2014, while the average pay for women remains flat at £39,153. This means men now get 21% more than women, equivalent to an additional £8,416, which compares to 2014 when the difference was more than £15,000.

The narrowing of the gap could, however, simply be accounted for by larger numbers of lower-paid men answering the survey than in previous years, rather than a change in the salaries paid for comparable jobs. Among digital specialists who answered the survey, the gender gap is narrower than for generalist marketers, with men paid less and women more.

The gender gap is more pronounced higher up the career ladder. Men in a chief marketing officer role earn 75% more than women, the equivalent of an extra £70,625, although the averages are calculated from small sample sizes.

Male marketing directors and heads of marketing earn £77,671, 18% more than women in the same position, while the average male marketing manager’s pay packet of £43,061 is 9% higher than their female counterparts who get paid £39,530. Conversely, at the other end of the spectrum, women in a marketing assistant role actually earn 2% more than men at the same level.

Men’s average salary versus women’s average salary by job role

Meanwhile, the only industry sector that pays female marketers more is industry and trade bodies, and even then it is only by a statistically insignificant 1%. Across every other sector men are ahead, but the gap is more pronounced in some areas than others.

In gaming, men earn 62% more on average than women, which equates to an additional £25,330 per year, while in entertainment and sport there is a 56% gap, the equivalent to £20,413 and £17,344 respectively.

Find out more: Sony Playstation’s European marketing director on being a female marketer in a male-dominated category

The gap is less marked within agencies, where male marketers get 12% more than women on average, which works out at an extra £5,031.

Money does appear to be more of a pressing concern for women as 65% insist being paid fairly is ‘very important’, compared to 58% of men. But 48% of women do not believe their current employer is meeting these expectations, versus 44% of men who feel the same.

However it could be that women are less proactive at chasing higher paid roles as only two-thirds cite better financial remuneration as the main reason they would consider leaving their job, compared to almost three quarters of men.

The largest gap between what men and women highlight as the main reason for moving on is flexible working hours. One fifth (19%) of women would consider changing job so this could be accommodated, compared to just 10% of men.

Take the 2016 Marketing Week Career and Salary survey to help us to create an industry census that reveals key workplace trends for the year ahead.

Find out how much you should earn by using our Salary Calculator



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