Non-Marketers can help

Marketing is not a preserve of the marketing department

In Summary

•Previously marketing was executed by staff who were largely salespeople by training

•We are now building internal change teams that mix marketers with non-marketers


When I first expanded my marketing career to include work in Africa, marketing was the purview of the MD or General Manager. Back in the 1990’s, Kenya was still a form of command economy. Manufacturers and importers controlled what was available; the government satisfied itself by meddling in pricing.

Commercial enterprises were very much led by the Managing Director (they were all men, by the way) who understood his market and competitor set. He knew what he wanted to do, even if he didn’t know how. We had some good Ad Agencies and a few companies offering promotional support, and we had limited media choices. Only the multinational companies understood the practice of marketing well enough to develop Brand Managers, many of whom are now business leaders in their own right.

In those circumstances, marketing plans were directed by a leader who took professional advice. They were executed by staff who were largely salespeople by training, and who collaborated with the agencies to run campaigns and measure impact. Metrics were an important part of the mix, and the Market Research industry played a pivotal role in informing decisions and measuring impact. The influence of corruption was relatively low.

By the time of the Noughties, things had changed significantly. Managing Directors had become CEO’s and were occupied with the process of corporatisation. A whole generation of marketers had grown up and - whatever training they had received - it did not always result in better marketing. The Ad and PR Agency scene had grown in scale but not always expertise; media choices had multiplied. There was big money to be made in placing media. Predictably, investment in market research declined as corruption increased. Standards of creativity plummeted, only to revive at the beginning of the Digital Age.

Fast forward to today: some positive changes are happening. CEO’s are more interested in marketing. Perhaps conscious of the value of their personal and corporate brands and how one can impact the other? Online marketing is cheaper and the impact more measurable - so traditional media plays a supporting role and doesn’t present the same ‘earning’ opportunity.

In the world of culture transformation, we are now building internal change teams that mix marketers with non-marketers. The effect has been significant. Marketers are no longer permitted so much jargon. Non-marketers are encouraged to question every intention from a common sense and business savvy perspective. Serious attempts are being made to prove Return on Marketing Investment. Marketing campaigns are discussed with the salespeople well before launch. Impact on customer experience is considered. Dare I say it, market research is coming back. And marketing is no longer the preserve of the Marketing Department. Amen!

Chris Harrison leads The Brand Inside