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  1. Making marketing relevant again

Marketing as a profession has suffered a great deal in recent years, and today’s marketing managers are often faced with a number of challenges.

Not least that of how to stand out from the crowd within their businesses, to convince the board of the value of marketing so that they can once again leverage the investment they need.

At the root of the problem is not only a misunderstanding of what marketing is and isn’t, but also a move in recent years away from strategy (at board level), towards more and more tactical marketing (at departmental level).

“The rest of the world thinks that marketing is, what the marketing department does.”
Prof Rudy Moenaert, Tias/Vlerick Business School

This has devalued the marketing role somewhat, to the extent that marketing experience is often neither valued nor represented at the board.

There are three main reasons for this:

  1. Boards are often too focused on more top level issues;
  2. Many people in the leveraged buyout and venture capital world believe that marketing is driven by luck; and
  3. There is a perception that marketers don’t add meaningful value to a firm – innovation is often managed by operations.

How can we overcome this?

Firstly, we must focus on the quality and integrity of the profession.

Marketing associations must take responsibility for employing a high standard of self-regulation, and be prepared to name and shame those who impact negatively on the profession.

As representatives of marketers, marketing associations should also consider focusing on business education at a grass roots level, to help improve the level of understanding about our profession.

Marketers themselves must play a role, and create integrated marketing business cases so that they can lobby both their internal (board) and external (public) stakeholders.

When businesses achieve success, marketers need to stake a claim on the impact of marketing on that success.

But to be able to do this effectively, we need to ensure that we embrace marketing return on investment (MROI) so that we can better demonstrate marketing impact.

Essentially, we need to educate the world about what marketing is.

Most of all, marketing isn’t a job title on a business card of a certain department, it is a competence – one which should be present at different levels within a company.

The quest is to organise marketing in the right way throughout the business.

Finally, we as marketers ourselves have to stand up for the profession.

Only by continuing to develop the marketing professional journey through reading, sharing and listening, will we be able to do our profession proud.

Martin Huisman, Vice-Chairman, European Marketing Confederation.