More than half of marketers in the East of England struggle to explain their roles.

Over a third of marketers in region feel colleagues don’t value marketing.

Despite this, marketing is regarded as a critical skill for senior business leaders to possess and is increasingly being used to shape sustainable markets.

Confusion over the definition and responsibilities of marketers is undermining the role and value that marketing plays in modern business, according to a report released today by the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM).

The study of in-house and agency marketing professionals found that despite marketing contributing £268bn to the economy every year, over a third of marketers in the East of England (39%) feel those in other business disciplines, such as sales and finance, fail to understand the value of marketing. More than half of marketers surveyed in the region (52%) also admitted that they struggle to explain their roles to others.

In the first of three papers in CIM’s Impact of Marketing research there are signs that marketing is struggling to defend its business value. Confusion over the role and function of marketing is attributed in part to the changing nature of the profession and the rise of new digital channels.

At a national level, the report found that with such a breadth of roles and responsibility comes confusion and disconnect between marketing and other parts of the business. This makes it harder for marketers to articulate their value:

• Just 23% of respondents believed their colleagues had a firm idea of what marketing was.

• More than half (53%) of those surveyed agreed that their roles were poorly understood by society as a whole.

• 36% believe those outside marketing don’t understand the value of marketing specifically to the organisation.

Commenting on the research, Paul Mackman, CIM East of England vice chair, said: “There is clearly confusion over the role of marketing in many local businesses. To address the root of the issue, we set out to understand just how big this disconnect was. The results from the research are striking and concerning.

“Confusion around rapid changes in the sector, new roles and an ever-increasing scope, can undermine the value of the marketing function to business. Unfortunately, too many organisations continue to perceive marketing as a cost rather than an investment.
Yet despite this lack of clarity, almost three quarters of marketers in the East of England believe the sector benefits communities as well as companies and organisations, while almost two thirds of marketers in the region say a better understanding of the profession would unlock even greater value for society.

“As a profession, there’s clearly work to be done on educating both our peers and the wider business on the importance of marketing.”

The mission for marketing

Across the UK, 85% of marketing professionals are confident they are vital to their organisation’s success, and seven out of ten (70%) currently see themselves as fairly or very well-equipped for the roles they need to perform. Moreover, eight in ten respondents saw marketing as a critical skill for senior business leaders.

As a whole, marketing professionals identify communication (34%), creativity (33%) and commercial awareness (22%) as the top three skills most needed to succeed in practising marketing today. In addition, marketers identified their core responsibilities as customer experience (48%), strategy (42%) and brand (41%).

The research also highlights how marketers view the relationship between their work and its wider societal impact; with nine in 10 in agreement that marketing is valuable to society as a whole. This reflects a growing number of organisations that are championing social issues, as marketers look for ways to create emotive, purpose-led campaigns.

Mackman concludes: “A lack of cohesion between marketers and business leaders is cause for concern. Marketers in the East of England must get better at applying measurement of outcomes, to ensure their contributions are recognised. But if marketing is to deliver value to business, in turn, businesses must take seriously their role in enabling marketing functions to perform at their best.”

The CIM’s five key takeaways for marketers

• Do not assume that your co-workers understand your role or the value you can deliver. Make sure to share what you do in a way people outside of marketing will understand and value.

• As your role and responsibilities continue to develop, it is important that you keep your core skills and technical competencies up to date.

• Be an ambassador for your profession. Build relationships, that will enable you to understand other parts of the business and deliver value.

• Challenge yourself, are your skills up to date allowing you to define your value to the business? A third of marketers found it hard to explain their role to others.

• It’s proven that marketing delivers huge impact and value to the economy and businesses. Demonstrate how marketing can spot future opportunities and deliver on business objectives.

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