The Art of Crayoning
Thursday 28th January 2016
A Managing Director of a company I once worked for referred to my marketing department as the Crayoning Department, not in malice but with reference to what he perceived we mainly did. Brochures, events, website (yes in the early 90s), tele and database marketing and PR all fell under the marketing remit but back then Marketing was represented on the board by the Sales and Marketing Director - who had risen through the Sales ranks.
The Crayoning perception still seems to be alive today. In an interview appearing on Forbes.com (Why Few Marketers Are Invited To Join Boards Of Directors) John Hoffmire , Associate Fellow from Oxford Universities Said Business School reveals that boards don't need a Board level Marketing Director. To summarise he believes that 1) Boards are concerned with the strategy not the tactics, like Marketing 2) Most believe (in the VC world) that Marketing is down to luck anyway and 3) Marketing doesn't create meaningful or sustained value. In short, a Marketing Director on the board would be disruptive and not add value. Operations, Strategy and Finance are far more important. The full article by Kim Whitler is well worth reading - red rag to a bull!!
Hoffmire's view isn't unique - sadly. Ever been privileged enough to sit in meetings with different functional managers who understand and can do both their job and yours? Just because they believe they "get" marketing because they experience it as a consumer doesn't mean they can do marketing.
The breadth of the Marketing function in the modern organisation extends beyond the popularly held belief of marketing providing the Advertising and promotion function. Strategy (and all the sub-functions behind it such as Market Research and Analysis); Product Management (aligning imminent end user needs and future development to ensure ongoing profitability with viable pricing) and Opportunity Generation (Leads I always associate with a town in Yorkshire) are but a few of the disciplines falling under the non-board Marketing Directors remit.
Given the breadth of understanding of end users, market trends, P&L of Product/Product lines etc. Marketing in its own right deserves a place on the board. If you want to still think of us as Crayoners then remember this - Crayons come in different colours - and you need different crayons to create the big picture that boards need to craft strategy effectively.