Marketing could finally shake off its ‘colouring-in department’ moniker for good in 2018, as the profession proves how its commercially-savvy business decisions are having a tangible effect on the bottom line.
Seventy four per cent of marketers taking part in Marketing Week’s recent Anatomy of a Leader research consider sales and commercial awareness as the most important responsibility marketers must master in order to become leaders. In fact, 82% of the more than 600 marketers surveyed believe the need for sales and commercial awareness will only grow in importance.
The demand for marketers to be sales-savvy resonates with Peugeot marketing director Mark Pickles, who sees the gap between sales and marketing disappearing.
“The days of building the perfect mix of the ‘four Ps’ [product, price, promotion, place] and then throwing it over to the sales team are dead,” says Pickles. “With real-time optimisation, fast-moving competitive markets and spiralling levels of consumer insight, the whole funnel from awareness right through to action is firmly in the control of the marketing leader.”
Strategic thinking emerges from the research as the most important skill a marketer must possess (according to 86% of respondents), with relationship building coming in a distant second (61%). This is followed by people management (60%), vision (59%) and problem solving (57%).
Going forward marketers will need to focus on art and science in equal measure, says IBM CMO Lisa Gilbert. She is looking for future leaders with a deep curiosity and passion for storytelling, who are also adept at using data to make better business decisions.
She believes that while 2017 was focused on taking an integrated approach to marketing and communications using storytelling and data insights, in 2018 these skills will move outside the marketing department as marketers seek greater collaboration with sales, finance and R&D.
“Building business acumen where we have a seat at the proverbial table and deliver our fair share of the results – if we can gain the credibility to master that, then I can see a path to where the CMO of today will be a viable candidate for the CEO of tomorrow,” Gilbert adds.