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Ideas for Leaders #130

New Priorities for Marketing Leaders

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Key Concept

The priorities of marketing leaders are rapidly changing. According to a report from Cranfield School of Management, improving marketing’s ability to work cross-functionally and building influence at Board level are currently two of the lowest priorities for marketing leaders. Could this pose a problem when it comes to long-term strategies?

Idea Summary

This research sought to learn more about the strategic, functional and tactical priorities of marketers for the future. What they found was a rapidly changing focus in marketing strategies, and a sharp divergence between British and continental European firms.

The survey results indicate three top marketing priorities for companies in 2013:

  1. Taking advantage of the opportunities afforded by technology;
  2. Developing skills and competencies to meet new challenges; and
  3. Improving the measurement and accountability of marketing investments and activities.

Meanwhile improving marketing’s ability to work cross-functionally and build influence at Board level seem to be lower priorities for marketing leaders. However, brand-strengthening is a key focus, as is customer relationship management.

The survey results also provide insight into the differences between marketing leaders in the UK and the rest of the world. For example, British marketing leaders are more expansionary and ambitious, and seem to focus more on acquiring new customers. On the other hand, Europeans firms focus more on customer retention, and North Americans attach more importance to marketing measurement and accountability than UK firms.

Methodology: During December 2012–January 2013, researchers from Cranfield School of Management conducted an online survey targeting over 300 marketing directors, chief marketing officers, business development and commercial directors, and senior marketing managers. Though most of the companies represented were headquartered in the UK, continental Europe and North America were also represented (and elsewhere).

Business Application

The results of the Cranfield Marketing Directors’ Survey indicate that much restructuring and people development is planned for 2013, most likely in order to take advantage of new technology and to focus marketing on customers more. However, building influence amongst Board colleagues seems to be less of a priority, even though it could improve cross-functional working and deliver enhanced customer experiences. This is a real leadership challenge that these findings highlight.

Leaders should try to move beyond ‘short-term wants’ of customers to see ‘longer term needs’. This means paying attention to priorities such as sustainability, which seemed to be a low priority for the participants surveyed. Such concerns will only heighten in the future; thus, firms that wait to build their marketing strategies may find they hit a tipping point and their offers are no longer competitive, if their other priorities are not in proportion as well.

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Idea conceived

  • 2013

Idea posted

  • April 2013

DOI number



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