Magazine article Marketing

ANALYSIS: Be 'Hard-Edged' to Impress CEOs

Magazine article Marketing

ANALYSIS: Be 'Hard-Edged' to Impress CEOs

Article excerpt

Marketers can connect better with the board's agenda by keeping shareholder value in mind as much as customers' needs, says Peter Fisk.

For marketers, the mantra that the customer is king remains pervasive and powerful. Yet an obsession with customer sovereignty is damaging to the profession.

Often customer focus has been at the expense of other stakeholders. Maximising shareholder value, for instance, is rarely on the agenda of marketers obsessed with customer value. But it is on the chief executive's agenda.

The agendas of the boardroom and the marketing function often do not connect. While one speaks of shareholder value and business metrics, the other talks of customer value and remains distanced from bottom-line accountability.

Little wonder that CIM research found only 21 companies in the FTSE 100 have a chief executive with a marketing background.

So how can marketing shake off the legacy of the past to connect more directly and constructively with the board's agenda? The answer lies in hard-edged marketing, a disciplined process of marketing decision-making based on what really drives market and business success.

Consider advertising. 'Companies spend millions of pounds on ads without agreeing in advance with the agency or the board what they want or can expect to achieve,' Professor Tim Ambler, senior fellow at London Business School, laments.

Hard-edged marketing enables marketers to demonstrate their contribution to the business, justify their budgets and focus investment on those marketing activities that offer the best returns.

It does this in three ways. First, by interpreting value broadly. Creating customer value and shareholder value are mutually inclusive. Second, by hard-wiring marketing into the business and its financial reporting, using metrics. And third, by operating at board level.

There is growing evidence that a relatively small number of brands deliver the vast majority of returns. …

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