Table of Contents
A glance at the back pages of many newspapers or online reveals a variety of different titles for the job of marketing director. Including head of customer, demand, experience, digital, direct, brand, communications, commercial and so on. Yet there are many myths about the role of marketing. Some perceive marketers ‘fluffy’ and lacking in commercial nous. Yet others as customer champions, growth drivers and highly creative. Thus it is no wonder there are differing job titles and sometimes contradictory perceptions. However all of this underlines that a successful marketing director requires a combination of skills and expertise.
Seven essentials to being a successful or great marketing director or CMO (Fig 2.1)
1. Explain, influence, manage and lead your colleagues
It never surprises us how few really understand marketing. Also how many fail to think from a marketing viewpoint. So go out of your way to explain what marketing is to your colleagues. In particular, how it works, and adds value. This will help win their trust.
At the same time, steer your business to a more successful place. Success will follow not just from what you do, but also how you do it. So engage your colleagues and set the tempo for the business. Work to win friends and influence, manage the day to day, get what needs to be done done, while looking to the future. In particular, develop and express a bright and motivating future.
As Jack Welch once wrote in a letter to shareholders:
“In the old culture, managers got their power from secret knowledge: profit margins, market share, and all that … In the new culture, the role of the leader is to express a vision, get buy-in, and implement it. That calls for open, caring relations with every employee, and face-to-face communication. People who can’t convincingly articulate a vision won’t be successful. But those who can will become even more open – because success breeds self-confidence.”Jack Welch
2. Be a disciple of customer understanding
No matter how sophisticated organisations might seem on the outside, it’s amazing how many hire and expect marketers to make decisions based on their own ‘gut-feel’. But remember that you’ll make better decisions based on facts.
History suggests that the most successful organisations are those that best understand their customers
This is therefore not something to pay lip-service to. Though while our increasingly digital world begets more and more data, it remains a world that is often sadly lacking in insight. So focus on understanding who your customers are, their needs, attitudes and behaviour. Accurate and comprehensive understanding on customers and their needs is vital to optimise products, services, and communications.
This also means understanding the ‘whys’ behind that ‘whats’? And investing in processes and people, and encouraging colleagues to do likewise.
3. Be the eyes, ears and ‘early warning radar’ of the organisation
The nature of customers, markets, and technology, also means that new opportunities and threats are emerging all of the time. Yet history is littered with organisations that failed to adapt or change to new threats.
It is also easy to become ‘blinkered’ by corporate cultures, and trapped by a ‘flimsy’ job specification. Someone in the company therefore needs to look outwards, and challenge and reinvent the ‘wheel’ to grasp new opportunities and anticipate and head-off threats. That someone is you.
Becoming the organisation’s ‘early warning radar’ fits perfectly with helping everyone understand and focus on customers. However, don’t do this on your own, and don’t view this as a power grab. Simply a way to empower your colleagues to feedback to your organisation’s brain.
By knowing most, and what’s going on first, gives a competitive advantage. Some also call this foresight.
4. Measure and manage the numbers
Attracting customers and driving demand are common business goals. This is where marketing makes its most important contribution. However, only marketing directly fuels growth. Other functions fuel efficiency. So combining both leads to more profit, and better returns.
Effective management is only possible by measuring ‘key performance indicators’ (KPIs). So as you have growth objectives, and responsibility for marketing initiatives, it is natural that you measure and manage the numbers. Simply to understand and address any deviation.
Also to plan with confidence
To do this understand the relationship between customer and financial outcomes. Then you’ll be better able to justify where to invest, and fine-tune, your marketing activities.
The more heads on the case, the better the ‘measurement’ solution. A quick win is to get your CFO onside. Work with your CFO to establish a marketing and financial dash-board. This will also boost your Boardroom credibility.
5. Develop and deliver your brand or brands
If your colleagues do not understand marketing, you can be sure they do not understand brands. Addressing this challenge starts by helping them understand, particularly, ‘why bother with your brand?‘
Reasons to bother with brands
First, to simplify and drive customer choice and purchase. Second, to enhance value and shareholder value. Third, to focus effort to deliver a consistent brand experience.
Implications for marketers
While marketing is the management function to boost brand stand-out and appeal, you’ll also need help from others to deliver your brand.
Particularly in service companies, where the good work of an advert in raising expectations is sometimes undermined by a surly customer service agent, or poor system. So effective management of the customer touch-points or underlying processes is vital to deliver a great brand experience. The devil is in the detail. Even a tiny improvement in response could add millions to revenue or profits.
So work with your colleagues to identify and overcome issues and deliver a consistent and high quality service.
6. Both strategy and execution make a difference
So set up processes, tools and techniques to make sure that both strategic and executional decisions are of the highest order. And then test implementation and test again from low to high investment.
7. Use your creative skills to solve problems
Through your great advertising and promotions you’ll build a reputation for being creative. So use this strength to help colleagues and the business as a whole. Also think about it this way. If the CEO’s role is to manage the big picture and the financial director’s is to manage the numbers, then the task of creating ideas lies with you.
So take the lead to solve problems that your business faces. Also bring colleagues together to this end. With the right skills, resources and creative tools in place, no problem is insurmountable. And if bravery does not come naturally, remember that it is a just state of mind. So go for it! Remember too that even if the problem lies outside of the marketing department, the health of the business remains your prime responsibility. And if you feel trapped by ‘politics’, bring in external help. A more objective approach could better help you unite and align your colleagues.
1. In short, you want to be a GREAT marketing director not just a good marketing director. Though greatness comes through business success. So if you imagine the scope of your marketing job responsibility as defined by a ‘box’. Then whatever the official prose, aim to ‘punch’ through that ‘box’.
3. Success will follow through your ability to persuade others. In other words through your personal skills and relationships. This is often more important than technical excellence.
4. So put yourself in the customer’s shoes (and fully understand him or her, and how to meet his or her needs) to make the best decisions.
5. If in doubt, sleep on it.
6. If still in doubt, then ask round and about.
7. Remember you are not alone and don’t have to do everything yourself. Because help is always at hand.
Introducing The Marketing Director’s Handbook
The Marketing Director’s Handbook is the definitive guide to being a great marketing director. Uniquely it covers both the marketing and management responsibilities of the role. It is also packed with top tips to help you succeed. Structured in five parts and 31 chapters it covers: Marketing essentials, the marketing year, operational leadership, and how to manage key projects. An entire section is also devoted to the role of digital. It is a ‘must-keep by your side’ for all marketers and a ‘must-read’ for all business owners and directors. So read the FREE introductory chapter, reviews, and order your copy today.
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