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What is the Role of a Marketing Director?

The following outtake, focused on breaking in to and thriving in the world of marketing, is taken from a recent exclusive recording of an MMC Moments of Truth discussion between Stephanie Leigh-Rose, education and media director at MMC Learning and Malcom Johnston, who is who is a consultant providing strategic support and coaching to businesses having become a leader in customer-centric growth through his years of experience of creating and running strategic marketing, sales, and management functions across multiple businesses.

In this extract, Stephanie and Malcom talk about the role of a Marketing director and what responsibilities the job entails.

Watch the 9 min video below which will give you an amazing insight into the above question.

Stephanie Leigh Rose:

So the next question we have is what is the role of a marketing director?

Malcolm Johnston:

Well, if you want the really simple answer to this, then go and look at some examples from Hayes Recruitment. You can always look at job descriptions to see what the formal role of a marketing director is, but I’d rather like to give the students an idea of what is the real role of a marketing director.

What challenges do marketing directors face?

Stephanie Leigh Rose:

The real world?

Malcolm Johnston:

Yeah, the real world of a marketing director, and the mistakes that I’ve made, so that hopefully they won’t be made by others. Now, I think first thing I would say is it depends on the route that you’ve taken to get to be a marketing director. So my route was both marketing and sales and I had come into a marketing director role from having been a sales director in America.

Now, one of the challenges there is that if you are a sales manager, a sales director, and perhaps stepping up to marketing director role, you tend to see- or at least I saw, I’ll be honest- all of your peers on the board as competitors. Because if you’ve made your way in sales, particularly in America, you are competing against all of your peers all the time because if you don’t get your quota every single week, every single month, every single quarter, you’re not there, so I think I approached my peers as competitors and that’s clearly a bad idea.

One of the things that I’m hoping by doing this course, to help students get a better handle on is that particularly as a director, your peer to peer relationships with others on the board is vital to your success. That degree of collaboration with your peers possibly hasn’t ever happened before until you hit the boardroom and then it becomes a joint responsibility of everyone on the board to drive the company forward. So to an extent on the way up to being a marketing director, your primary responsibility has been to manage your team and deliver to your objectives with your team.

What happens when you become a director of a business is you have a much greater responsibility, not just for your team and your department’s delivery against objectives, but for the whole company.

Now, no one told me that before I started. So that’s quite a shock.

What is a marketing directors job role?

So first and foremost what is the role of a marketing director? Well, develop and maintain great relationships with your peers on the board, because as a marketing director, to an extent you own very, very few, if any of the levers in order to deliver on your strategy and the strategy for the company. So you’ve got to be a force of personality, you’ve got to collaborate with your peers in order to get stuff done.

Stephanie Leigh Rose:

And was this within the same company that you were shifting from sales into marketing?

Malcolm Johnston:

Yes, but it might just as well have been on a different planet.

Stephanie Leigh Rose:


Malcolm Johnston:

Yeah. I mean, it was the same company, Cable & Wireless, but Cable & Wireless Inc in America was a tooth and claw, sales-oriented organisation, cutthroat, people stamping on your fingers if you got below them on the rungs on the ladder. I happened to go into the first division of Cable & Wireless, which was the cable laying marine business and that is where Cable & and Wireless started, laying transatlantic cables and therefore its culture was about as far away from Cable & Wireless Inc, as it was possible to be.

Stephanie Leigh Rose:

Oh, interesting.

Malcolm Johnston:

The role of a marketing director is first, collaborate with your colleagues, develop those relationships because frankly, if you don’t do that, none of your team will be able to either. So good relationships with your peers, make it clear from the start how you are going to run your organisation.

How do you run a team as a marketing director?

If you’ve got sales as part of your team, which is not that unusual, or if you’ve got channel management, put a lot of effort into getting collaboration and cooperation within your team. They may have had someone there before you arrived, who liked to have competitive spirit between the departments. But you cannot have as a marketing director, the marketing department throwing over the fence to sales and a “this is a marketing qualified lead. We’ve done our job, so you lot get on and close the deal,” type attitude.

Equally the sales team cannot have the attitude of “Marking always sends us rubbish leads.” So your role is to make that team work as one. That’s a really big, big thing to get moving.

The role of being a marketing director in terms of driving a marketing plan? Do you know what? You are beyond that. You steer the creation of that plan, and obviously it’s got to have your mark on it, but your subordinates in that situation should be more than capable of helping to develop that plan and facilitating the creation of the plan.

You are the conductor of the orchestra. You’re not playing any of the instruments. You’re no longer lead violin. You a