As the sun was setting on this year’s Marketing Week Live event (or MWL ‘14 as the organisers would have us call it), I sat in on the last presentation of the final day co-hosted by the Chartered Institute of Marketing and a marketing consultant turned CMO (poacher/gamekeeper). There were two points that struck me as significant

“Marketing has to be owned throughout the organisation, not just by the marketing department.”

The argument (from the speakers) was that if everybody understands how what he or she does contributes to the overall marketing objective – determined by the business strategy (growth) – the organisation is likely to be more successful. Marketing should be an integral part of the business rather than just a remote department that checks periodically, everybody is on brand.

It’s difficult to disagree with this. Equally though, we need to beware marketing by consensus. We don’t want a situation where the entire company feels it should be consulted about every individual marketing activity and nobody (especially the marketing department) has ultimate responsibility. More dangerous yet is when those in senior positions feel they have ownership of marketing decisions, just because they are in a senior position (but devoid of any marketing acumen or experience). The marketing professional knows better but is unable or unwilling to challenge because it’s not a great career move to disagree with the boss. The results are invariably disastrous and it will be the marketer that gets in the neck in the end anyway.

“Marketers shouldn’t believe their own hype.”

Should I be surprised that marketers might do this? The point made was it is commonplace for organisations to deal with any new advent of technology or media by creating a role to manage it, leading to a cast of thousands in the marketing department and an entirely disconnected approach.

Surely the role of the professional marketer is (a) to understand how new tools contribute to the marketing mix and (b) deploy them appropriately, in an integrated fashion – we’re marketing in a digital world, rather than doing digital marketing (for example), said our speaker, and that’s right.

Social media is an obvious area where this applies. There are still plenty of senior executives who think there should be a person or department that deals with the company’s social media and that neither they nor anybody else in the company needs to understand or get involved with it – unless there is a young trainee around who needs something to do. Social media is thus dealt with and they can rest easy at night.