Moving the perception of marketing from cost to value

This outtake is from an hour of discussion recorded exclusively for our Pivotal Marketer Community on Facebook (where the full recording is available) sees Angela Hatton, marketing consultant, trainer and published author and MMC’s Rene Power discussing how marketing has changed, marketing for sales vs marketing for comms and who does (and should own the marketing function) in a business.

It’s the first part in a series of serialisations on marketing management, be sure to check all new posts as they publish (or see the recommended reading below).

Rene Power:

Good afternoon everybody in the Pivotal Marketing community. It’s Rene here and I’m fantastically, delighted to be joined by Angela Hatton. Say hello, Angela.

Angela Hatton:

Hello everyone. Welcome.

Rene Power:

Fantastic. And I think, which room of the house you in, today its the most colourful of all the rooms?
Angela Hatton:

It is. It’s my conservatory.

Rene Power:

Fantastic. It’s a lovely, vibrant colour. I think, when I get round to it, I’m going to have my purple branding set behind me but I haven’t gotten around to it yet. So you’ve beat me to it.

It’s fantastic to have Angela along with us today. For those of you who have been following some of my posts and updates, you’ll know that I mentioned Angela’s book, which I’ve had in my possession since I think circa 1996 or something like that.

Angela Hatton:

That makes me feel really old.

Rene Power:

It was published ’96, Marketing plans with a winning edge. I’m pretty sure it’s still available.

Angela Hatton:

I think it’s now branded the Definitive Guide to Marketing Plans but it’s the same.

Rene Power:

One of the reasons I loved it is because it did explode that whole process of strategy, into implementation, evaluation, and all of that stuff in one neat place. There was loads of white space to scribble all over it, which I did. There’s loads of great graphs in there, there’s loads of little outtakes and things. And I think for anybody who’s writing essentially textbooks / business books these days, they could still take a steer from how that was laid out on the pages.

Angela Hatton:

Thank you. I think that one of the lessons is, as well, that the principles and process haven’t changed.

We’ve got new tools and new methods of reaching people, for example the digital channels, which has made comms in both research and promotion easier, but the principles have stayed the same since Adam was a boy.

Evolution of marketing in business

Rene Power:

Since Adam was a boy, yes. 100%. And I think as well there’s been a lot of talk online and the marketing press recently. People like Mark Ritson, who have risen to prominence. He wrote a column in Marketing Week for years and is sort of very highly regarded disruptive marketer, shall we say, and he’s been saying the same sort of thing.

And there’s a real theme emerging in marketing and about marketing professionals that right now there seems to be an over-focus on promotion.
It’s one of the big things, the things we’re going to be talking about today, isn’t it?

About if you want to be seen as being a really valuable marketer and contributor to your business, it’s about showing how marketing can actually impact the business. One of the problems of the minute I think, is that we’re so fixated on promotion. We’re so fixated on what we say on social media and getting the emails out and doing all of the tactical stuff, sometimes we can be a little bit guilty of not doing the thinking, not doing the hard work that is going to make that stuff more successful.

Now I’m seeing that now. How far back would you say you were seeing that?

Angela Hatton:

I think it’s always been thus, really. I think when marketing was first evolving as a business, a genuine business function, if you like, it was very much seen as a support for the sales team, initially.

It was the comms. It was kind of the lead generation piece almost. I think in some organisations it was positioned within product teams, and so it was always about selling product rather than winning customers. And companies, of course, because that’s how they saw the job evaluated people in terms of their comms and promotional capability, and when they recruited, they were recruiting for the best comms people.

So guess what? We’ve got bunches of marketers, who if they’ve done their CIM qualifications, have done all the strategic marketing, but the companies haven’t given them the bandwidth, haven’t even allowed them into the meetings about strategy because they were seen as tactical. And so that’s where they’ve stayed.

And forever, CIM over the years have banged on about getting marketing into the C-Suite, getting them on that top floor. And to be honest, we failed. The thing that… I suppose I was going to say disappoints me. Now I’m officially retired, I suppose I don’t need to be that disappointed, but it still upsets me, is that that strategic marketing job, the job of generating revenue, identifying new customers, making sure that we’re delivering value for the customer, the value proposition creation, has been given to product teams rather than marketing teams.

And hence, the new book that Louisa insisted I put out during the first lockdown despite my retirement, is a toolkit for product managers, but actually any marketer that picked it up would find it exactly what they would expect in terms of the analysis tools for any market plan.

Rene Power:

That’s fantastic and we’ll come back to that and go through that in a little more detail shortly. I should point out that you’re… obviously this is a group primarily made up of CIM course students, graduates, people who are interested in that, so early to mid-career marketing professionals and future leaders I would say, obviously supported by MMC Learning, who have put 3,000 students through courses over the last 20 years. I think 80% completion and pass rate. So qualifications, CIM all really important, and they’ve had a big part in your role and career, haven’t they?

You’ve got a fairly close relationship with CIM.

Angela Hatton:

Yeah, probably over the best part of 40 years. I started as an examiner, a senior examiner very quickly. Unfortunately the examiner I was supporting got murdered, which was nothing to do with me but it was very scandalous at the time. That was in the days when we taught economics to the first year of the CIM qualification, the certificate.

So I was CIM examiner for Economics and then for Effective Management for Marketing, senior academic advisor. I wrote the student publication, Marketing Success, for 12 years.

In those days the circulation for the CIM students were 70,000 globally. And that went out monthly. And then of course, I was always on the global delivery team, so I did some training for the courses that they were running, like the senior managers course that we ran at weekends in the days when the new people coming in were getting their CIM qualifications but the people that had been in marketing for a long time or in business for a long time had missed out.

And so CIM did these flagship fast track programme over a few weekends to get the marketing directors qualified rather than just having it by name. And I stayed on the faculty until I stopped working essentially last year (2020).

Bridging the C-Suite gap

And I think I’ve always believed and tried very hard to bridge the gap between the academic and the practitioner.

And I actually think that CIM has been really important in that. I think nearly anyone on the faculty was both academically capable… sometimes academics working in universities, but always with practitioner experience, so working actively as consultants or in business.

Because it’s that ability to go between the two to use the theory to give you sound foundations in your planning, but actually understand the pragmatic, this is how they talk about this stuff in the boardroom, which isn’t always the same as how they talk about it in the textbooks. So it’s an important bridge.

Rene Power:

And I think that’s the thing and we’ve kind of set this session up to tap into your experience of working with clients and in positions where… I mean lots of businesses and my background today, it’s same where marketing maybe isn’t as valued as it should be.

Maybe you’re working in a very sales focused organisation. So what are the first sorts of things… You mentioned in a comment a moment ago about trying to get marketing into the C-Suite.

Elevating the perception of marketing

What sort of things have you seen or observed or even done yourself over the years that helped elevate that kind of perception of marketing within organisations?

Angela Hatton:

I think… It’s a really challenging question, to be honest, Rene. And I think there are a number of answers and it almost depends on the timeline that you might’ve been thinking about that question.

I think more recently most of the C-Suite have got the idea that somehow the business needs to be customer led, customer informed. What they haven’t joined the dots up is to realise that that means marketing and marketers.

So actually the thing that would make the biggest difference is the marketers just spending an away day, if there’s a few of them, depends how big their team is, and think about a marketing plan to sell marketing and its capability in their own organisation. And they’re all going to be at different starting points.

And the question that I would ask and I would always ask a senior manager, a C-Suite manager is, “Who owns revenue in this business?” Because the most common answer you would get from that… Because nearly everyone else is on the cost side, the product managers and the ops people, are all spending. They’ve all got budgets. They’ve got cost centres but are not about revenue really. And if you’re lucky, you’ll get them telling you it’s sales.

And you go, “Okay, so your sales guys might be responsible for revenue in the short term,” in the next quarter or however long their sales cycle is.

But who’s worried about where the revenue is going to come from in three years time, in four years time? Who’s keeping up with the customers and who’s understanding where the market’s going, where the new competition’s coming from?”

And very often it’s a black hole, to be honest. There’s nobody doing it in real terms.

Rene Power:

I think especially at the minute, I saw a post on LinkedIn yesterday that was trying to suggest that 12 and 18 month marketing plans have been thrown out the window at the minute and most companies are looking a lot more short term at the moment.

Angela Hatton:

Yeah, I’m sure.

Rene Power:

But you’re right, to have a longer term view, it affects product development, service design, innovation, everything, doesn’t it?

Angela Hatton:

A whole lot.

Rene Power:

You’re not producing things for further down the line, knowing how long some things take, particularly in manufacturing, engineering, and things like that. And that’s not driven by insights from the market. Then yes, you’re going to probably really struggle when you get to that point in the future, aren’t you?

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