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Marketing opinion

The great business/marketing/advertising disconnect

Ad agencies wish they were taken more seriously by the clients as business building partners. They feel they should have relationships higher up in the organisation and are frustrated with dealing with the lower levels of marketing management; only executing briefs as opposed to solving problems.
However, there's a whole lot of questioning going on in the client world that impacts this wish.

CMOs and CEOs

In these challenging times, we know that marketing directors (chief marketing officers or CMOs in US terms) are under massive pressure. But there's a deeper issue: in a recent multinational survey done by Fournaise business consultants, it was found that 73% of CEOs think CMOs lack business credibility.

However, in another recent discussion that CMO.com had with top CEOs, they want CMOs to have a 'seat at the top table'.

So what's going on here?

Marketing as a business builder

Overall, there needs to be a marketing exercise for marketing as a business builder, not the 'girls down the passage, who organise golf days and t-shirts'.

It's a recommitment to the solid principles of knowing what the customer wants and giving it to him/her in a way that no-one else can.

In some of my executive training, I challenge agencies to get more involved with their clients on issues such as product concept innovation to help the marketer innovate to grow their business. The general response? The marketer they deal with isn't even involved with that. It's done by "product" or "segement" - distant silos in the business. They, too, are only 'implementers'.

Turf protection, not better business

When agencies ask if they can meet the originators of the brief and raise the business discussion a notch or two, the answer is often no - people are protecting their turf rather than doing better business.

Agencies and their client partners should make a combined effort to raise marketing's profile in the organisation, to get that seat at the top table. Agencies also need to embrace measurement and ROI - to talk in language that the CEO wants to hear.

Kimberly-Clark CMO Tony Palmer talks about 'pain points' in an insightful article in AdAge, about agency-client partnerships. One of the points he makes is that agencies and marketers "have not found a meaningful way to use measurement to elevate and empower creativity and commercial ideas".

That way, it remains "'arty' and 'fluffy'", as per the Fournaise study, and there's no seat at the top table for that.
    
 

About Gillian Rightford

Gillian Rightford's CV is a mix of marketing, advertising, and management. A former Group MD of Lowe Bull, she started Adtherapy (www.adtherapy.co.za), a consultancy that talks to agencies and marketers about all things advertising. Her mantra is 'to rid the world of bad advertising'. The rationale behind Adtherapy is 'better skills, better relationships, better results'. Adtherapy looks at enhancing these areas - mastery of skills; productive client/agency relationships; outstanding & effective creative output.
Will Gubb
Will Gubb
Great comment Gill

Measurement is now much more possible with social media analytics and measurement software, but who is going to do all the work, and where is the budget?
We offer a very affordable report on what social media is saying about brands.
CEO’s don’t have time for that stuff.

Will Gubb
Full Impact Marketing
http://www.full-impact.co.za
Posted on 3 Aug 2011 15:14
dylan Killin Kohlstadt
dylan Killin Kohlstadt
I'm not sure Gillian. Perhaps Marketing Managers would be involved in bigger decisions if they were seen as having their fingers on the pulse of their customer's needs. Social marketing should allow customers the opportunity to speak right into the heart of the organisation (Bieber style). Customer data should also reveal insightful trends that can be used for better targeting.

If Marketing Manager's quote facts (supported by data) and statements (supported by customer feedback) perhaps the business will start consulting with them from the outset, instead of them always having to play catch up?
Posted on 3 Aug 2011 16:13
Brehndan Botha
Brehndan Botha
It's a dual-edged sword: Marketing Managers need to be on top of their strategy (your point about connecting with the customer) and ad agencies need to be less about the creative holy grail and more about the business. If ad agencies really want to be business partners, they need to act like a business partner not tempremental artists.
Posted on 3 Aug 2011 17:26
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