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Time for marketing to stop being overlooked at the top

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Time for marketing to stop being overlooked at the top

Karen Lloyd Marketing, Career

Just a couple of weeks ago, we were discussing the changes at Easy Jet, that saw marketing representation being taken by a Data Chief at senior level. Another development in this emerging trend, has seen Pernod Ricard put a Finance Chief in charge of brand strategy as the company seeks to take a more “holistic view of its brand”.

Once again, businesses are citing the need to focus on a “consumer-centric” approach to their business. In these B2C businesses, yes, of course their strategies need to be consumer-centric. But it leads us to question why senior marketers are perceived as less able to lead these modern marketing and brand strategies than other business functions?  Is marketing no longer thought to be in touch with the voice of the customer?

Modern Marketing Is NOT The Colouring In Department

Marketing has historically been the poor relative – the “colouring in department”.   However, modern marketing and the rise of accessible data is developing far more accountability. This creates opportunities, and increasingly people in other functions want a piece of that, and they take the opportunity to further their career.

Marketing skills are evolving rapidly. To be successful in modern marketing, you require a complex skill set;  blending creativity, analytical and commercial ability, whether you are in B2B or B2C. It is up to “old-school” marketers to rise to the challenge and keep their skill sets relevant for today’s business.

Just as importantly, the business must perceive that the role of marketing has changed. When that fails to happen, coupled with the entrenched acceptance of finance and commercial leaders; it is perhaps unsurprising that we see others who don’t have the requisite background representing marketing at senior level.

One Size Doesn’t Fit All

On the other hand, it’s not all doom and gloom.  Some businesses are recognising the importance of having representation at the top who understands the full modern marketing standpoint, not just a data perspective. Bacardi have recently appointed a new global CMO as it looks to put accountability closer to the front line.  Previously Bacardi scrapped the role, “arguing it was unnecessary as it looked to bring brands closer to their markets.” The change in direction comes after the retirement of the CEO. The new incumbent does not have a marketing background and they recognise the need for marketing expertise at senior level.

Of course, what suits one business, won’t necessarily suit another. This emerging trend however, raises a concern for marketers who want to progress to senior level.

You will have to work hard, firstly to ensure that your skills are relevant in an ever-changing digital world. Secondly to compete with functions who more traditionally find their way to the top. Working on the business’ perception of the role of marketing, and your own profile within that is vitally important to develop your career.

Sitting back and waiting for others to take notice will not deliver success.