Marketing, the Forgotten Ingredient in the Corporate Success Story


Over recent years a huge amount of time and effort has been focused by shareholders, directors, academics and the business community on debating and discussing how companies can more efficiently operate and manage their affairs. Corporate transparency and behaviour, governance structures, shareholder influences, process monitoring communications, board composition and all the other mechanisms which make up the functionality of a modern business model are discussed and debated at length which given our changing world and the wild swings in risk and reward factors is only to be expected.  

However it’s noticeable in most debates regarding improving company performance and increasing shareholders wealth the basic focus is almost always founded on methods of improving high level strategic decision making and the monitoring processes required to ensure success. While there is no argument that addressing these issues is critical to improving company performance there is another equally important business discipline that requires attention and that is the marketing function which within most business models is the key driver associated with achieving the majority of the company’s success factors which ultimately define the company’s future strategic positioning. However it’s noticeable that in today’s technological revolution and the focus on corporate governance issues very little attention is and has been given to reshaping marketing structures, accountabilities and responsibilities to enhance this discipline making it more fit for purpose in the new competitive world of the future.

The underpinning platform which any marketing program is built on is brand image. The maintenance and improvement of brand image is one of the key factors which all marketing programs are shaped around. Corporate brands are built around creating market place expectations involving numerous elements such as pricing, presentation, technological superiority etc supported by direct advertising backed by delivering to the market an experience which exceeds client’s expectations. Get these factors right and brand enhancement resulting in improved financial returns is almost guaranteed.

It’s an interesting fact that brand awareness has a direct and positive influence on product pricing which naturally in turn influences corporate profits. Indeed, marketing philosophy should and does underpin every company’s strategic plan and objectives and as such marketing as a discipline needs to be high on any board’s agenda and demand director’s regular attention.

Unfortunately, from my experience carrying out numerous governance audits for various companies I’ve found that the marketing discipline in a lot of instances is not highlighted as sufficiently important to rate in depth discussion or analytical dissection around the board table on a regular basis. When testing with individual directors it’s fairly obvious that some believe marketing is simply an unavoidable cost centre focused on developing advertising programs promoted by sales teams and they have a distinct lack of understanding of the importance to the business that marketing has nor understand its disciplines. To make my point how often when company’s hit hard times is the marketing budget the first to suffer large retrenchment and budget cuts?

So in summary perhaps when reviewing board composition shareholders should think seriously about appointing at least one or more marketing experts as directors. It needs to be remembered that the marketing discipline which is responsible for building brand awareness needs constant board attention and direction particularly as brand loyalty takes time to build but can be lost in minutes with a wrong decision.

...when reviewing board composition shareholders should think seriously about appointing at least one or more marketing experts as directors.

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