Secret Marketer: Marketers are often misjudged but they bring it on themselves

One of the most annoying parts of my job is the need to constantly “re-sell” marketing to the board.

While I have a good relationship with my fellow colleagues, and on the whole they get the benefit of marketing, whenever it comes to a new campaign or the annual budget planning exercise, they seem to forget all the good work my team have delivered over the preceding 12 months.

Interestingly, I think part of this is because as an industry we do ourselves few favours. I have long-standing beef that our trade body has done little to establish the credentials of our profession among the finance and commercial directors at the same table; plus the fact that our professional qualifications do not stack up against those for accountants, lawyers or HR colleagues.

And then we go and kick ourselves in the foot, with the actions of some of our less conscientious associates, and it is often the visibility of this that sticks in the mind of others.

Our industry was known for many years as being responsible for the junk mail mountains that often piled behind front doors when people got home from work. While direct mail, when done well, is a highly effective form of marketing, too few people think about segmentation, relevance or even proper name addressing. Next we are blamed for filling colleagues’ inboxes with irrelevant spam emails. Again, email marketing can be very persuasive, but only if the originator thinks about the message, the targeting and the appropriateness of their invasion of others’ privacy.

And being more specific, we have those damned ambulance chasers – the “I believe you had a car accident” or the “have you claimed your PPI insurance cheque yet” – usually from robots, none of which appear to have any sense of targeting, other than the fact you have some form of telephone. Those in the financial services sector have a lot to answer for by allowing these repugnant opportunists to exist, which has impacted many boards (of totally unrelated products) from authorising telesales within their mix.

And then come the “chuggers”. Usually well-meaning individuals, from some highly respected third-sector brands but who are a blight on many high streets, and in turn, bring the marketing profession into disrepute for hassling people heading to work or the train.

I remain of the view that marketing is an essential part of any business, but it is infuriating when less experienced colleagues make judgements that you would never dare make about their credentials. But I do feel we bring some of it on ourselves.


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Polarising ideas

Tom Fishburne

Tom Fishburne is founder of Marketoon Studios. Follow his work at or on Twitter @tomfishburne See more of the Marketoonist here


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