We’ve been in a situation in marketing for a long time now where most people’s understanding of marketing is at the most basic level, so basic in fact that thousands upon thousands of firms who recruit ‘marketers’ tend to do so to fulfil a simple communications exercise with external stakeholders. Consequently marketing is seen as being a task that truly anyone in an organisation can fulfil and consequently they prefer to leave it to others. However, professional marketing is for me one of the single most important tasks within any organisation and it’s only right to explore why I believe this to be the case.
According to “The 12 Powers of a Marketing Leader” by Thomas Barta and Patrick Barwise, the world of marketing is ever changing and for seriously dedicated career marketers there are three areas that must be bridged in order to move up the professional scale, the ‘Skills Gap’, the ‘Trust Gap’ and the ‘Power Gap’.
Skills Gap – Technology is changing almost monthly and it is a great challenge for dedicated career marketers to keep up-to-date with these technological changes to ensure they’re always offering the most advanced service to the clients they work for. Marketers with the initiative and drive to keep up-to-date with current technological innovations have the potential to be marketing leaders, but so many fail to reach this goal simply because they allow themselves to solely focus on this aspect alone.
Trust Gap – Refers to the marketer’s ability to focus on meaningful long-term results rather than short-term wins today and as such many ‘Tech marketers’ don’t have the determination, vision or a rich history of previous commercial roles that have enabled them to build such a foundation. This lack of additional attributes means that it is often difficult to win the support and belief of your colleagues and/or the people you work for which in turn only goes on to fuel the perception I referred to at the beginning of this article.
Power Gap – Marketing processes are not the sole domain of the marketing director, manager or department. Instead marketing processes are intertwined with all other business functions: operations, manufacturing, human resource, material supply, finance, information technology and sales. Consequently an effective marketing leader is a ‘people person’ with the capability of uniting all departments for the benefit of all stakeholders over the long-term rather than being one that resists the opinions and views of other departments. What matters most is the profitability and longevity of the company and its associated teams.
So for those who have taken all these steps, becoming a marketing leader is a natural position that opens up a world of consultancy opportunities.
Consultants have often been wrongly mistaken for mercenaries but this naïve view is simply not true. Consultants bring with them benefits that outweigh the option to use a staff member with less knowledge and experience who would most likely be blinded and frustrated by the issues they uncover whilst you may also have preconceived ideas about their abilities and advice. It is much more effective for someone to analyse the problems from the outside and then formulate a plan to correct them.
The article written by Jerome Barthelemy, “Does it pay to hire Consultants?” discusses the effect that consultants can have on a business. He concludes his article saying that “it’s often businesses that can least afford to hire consultants who would ultimately have the most to gain”. However the common misconception with marketing consultants is often that they’re not needed until it there is a problem, at which point it might be too late, and as I referenced above, ‘leaders’ are looking for long-term benefits so maximising the time to bring about sustainable change is essential.
What separates marketing leaders is their ability to take the initiative for other areas of the business that overlap their own. Marketing leaders can prove to be invaluable due to their all-round knowledge and understanding of business and leadership so hiring them becomes a sign of strength within the company not weakness.
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