It’s not colouring in, it’s a craft
The organisers of Marketing Festival, due to be held in Prague next year, recently commissioned a documentary Making a Marketer which explores the key issues in marketing today. The documentary features marketing experts including the godfathers of effectiveness Peter Field and Les Binet, and Mark Ritson.
- Peter Field and Les Binet explain how marketing works, and that ‘effectiveness’ and ‘efficiency’ are not one thing; but in fact behave very differently in the whole of business sense.
- Field and Binet outline how organisations become obsessed with efficiency as the low hanging fruit, which leads to cost cutting. While effectiveness is about maxing out the outcomes, driving growth, generating revenue and maximising profits.
- The answer is not one or the other, but it’s about maximising the ratio. In their view, a focus on efficiency means you focus on doing the wrong things more efficiently, which can lead to bankruptcy.
- Mark Ritson takes this a step further and warns against “tactification”. He reminds us that we need a sound diagnosis in order to formulate a clear strategy and answers to the core strategic questions before we address the tactics.
- Ritson highlights that this needs to be grounded in empirical data, facts and evidence, not subjective opinion.
- Ritson pokes fun at the commonly coined phrase “evidence-based marketing”, stating that of course it needs to be evidence based; what else would we base it on – fiction, dreams or emotions?
- Yet in reality, subjectivity and interference often play a role in how marketing campaigns get tinkered with and adapted based upon other influential company executive’s points of view.
Binet and Field - and Mark Ritson - always deliver insight and value. But I'd argue chief marketers' troubles lie in the structural make-up of boards.
With an impressive line-up of experts, the Making a Marketer documentary provides a practical application for marketers, helping to improve their craft and effectiveness in 2020 and beyond.
While this made sense to me, having previously led marketing functions, I couldn’t help but reflect that a marketer’s real challenge often lies in the organisational structure and whether or not the CMO has the ear and respect of the CEO and board – rather than being perceived as the ‘colouring-in department’ – and a seat at the executive table.
It’s well known that CEOs typically come up the ranks through a financial / CFO background, and rarely from marketing. This trend is also reflected at board level within organisations, with a distinct lack of marketing experience represented.