Step up the game and we can prevent ‘marketing’s decline’

The Chartered Institute of Marketing’s white paper – “Marketing’s decline: a wild exaggeration?” (MW 21 May), refers to crucial points where our profession is failing to show its true worth. However, the pressing issue is not to bemoan our failings but to agree how we can start to improve things.

The key issue is not that marketers are “unaccountable, untouchable, slippery and expensive”. Nor is it that marketers are failing to live up to their strategic and commercial responsibilities. Businesses must define a clearer, more strategic role for marketing. They must work with heads of marketing and their teams to ensure they have all the skills they need to deliver real value to customers for the benefit of the whole organisation.

To make a true difference, marketers need the skills to shape what a business should be offering its customers, not just to develop communication campaigns that aim to sell it. This is the best way to deliver sustainable shareholder value and to ensure the business is a healthy, profitable one. Yet, too often, marketers have to fight for the right to operate at this level.

In return for this responsibility, marketers must build up relevant skills. They need to be able to spot future market opportunities. They need vision to be able to inspire colleagues by fostering creativity and collaboration. And they need to develop the great products, services and campaigns that are fundamental to building brands.

Instead of being pinned down in their departments, worrying about the next ad campaign or shelf wobbler, marketers need to raise their game and work to inspire the whole organisation to deliver superior value to customers.

It’s not marketing’s failures that we should be focusing on, but marketing’s potential to help organisations deliver better customer value.

Andy Bird and Mhairi McEwan,
Co-founders/joint MDs,
Brand Learning

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