Salary Survey 2017: Marketing is still misunderstood by businesses

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Despite efforts to promote the value of marketing within businesses, Marketing Week’s annual Career and Salary Survey shows there is still a lack of understanding and appreciation for the discipline, at a time when gaming and gambling is revealed as the best paid sector for marketers.

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Marketing is still seen as a cost rather than an investment by businesses, according to more than half of marketers responding to Marketing Week’s annual Career and Salary Survey.

Despite efforts across the industry to break down internal silos and encourage inter-departmental collaboration, 61.8% of marketers believe marketing is only somewhat understood or not understood at all by their business as a whole.

The survey of 3,435 marketing and digital professionals, conducted in collaboration with Marketing Week’s sister brand Econsultancy, finds financial services to be the sector where the highest proportion of marketers (53%) believe marketing is viewed as a cost, closely followed by consumer electronics (51.8%) and the public sector (51.5%).

Those working in education are the least positive about their colleagues’ view of marketing, with 14% suggesting marketing is not understood at all, followed by the charity/not-for-profit sector (13.8%) and professional services (11.1%).

By contrast, travel and transportation is the sector most likely to put marketing at the heart of the business, with 58% of those working in the industry viewing it as an investment and only 3.3% stating marketing is not understood by their company. At FMCG brands, 53.8% believe marketing is seen as an investment and 4.6% say it is not understood.

You can’t just sit back and expect the business to really understand what you do and the benefit it brings without talking to them and explaining it.


Annabel Venner, Hiscox

Taking accountability for this lack of understanding starts with marketers, says Annabel Venner, global brand director at insurance provider Hiscox.

“You can’t just sit back and expect the business to really understand what you do and the benefit it brings without talking to them and explaining it. There is an onus on marketers to look at what their marketing is doing and be able to measure it in some way – whether that’s through brand tracking or econometrics – and then present it to people across the business,” she says.

To make those conversations successful marketers need to adapt their language and drop the jargon, according to Åsa Caap, CEO and co-founder of Our/Vodka, a community-based vodka brand within the Pernod Ricard group.

“A lot of the time marketers blame others for not understanding why marketing is important, but we also have to take responsibility and use ‘commercial’ words so that it’s more understandable. We need to explain it and talk in a way that earns more respect,” she says.

“It is really important that we recruit marketers that have a commercial side and business acumen; it’s more important than it was five years ago.”

Brand communications and marketing director at Aviva, Pete Markey, acknowledges that when companies are squeezed, marketing often comes in for scrutiny.

“When times become more challenging commercially, marketing is always the first area that is questioned, particularly if it is not so understood, so the onus is on marketers to do a better job of marketing marketing and show that it is business critical,” he says.

“It is also important to build relationships between marketing and finance, and for marketing to better align with metrics in the business because if you are not using the language of finance, you cannot show how marketing directly links to driving business growth. The best marketing teams are very commercial.”

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The data shows senior marketers are more likely to believe marketing is understood by the wider business than people in junior roles. Only 3.8% of board directors and 8.8% of senior managers believe marketing is not at all understood by the business at large, compared with 13.2% of junior managers, 14.7% of executives and 21.1% of assistants.

This could suggest that the ability to form a closer connection to the board or staff in senior roles helps marketers feel more valued – a message that does not always filter down to junior members of staff. It is, however, encouraging that in 2017 nearly half of respondents (46.5%) have a marketer on the board of their company, up from 44.5% in 2016.

Appointing marketers to boards helps to provide a customer focus, says Venner. “The marketer can be the voice of the customer. They can give customer focus not just in terms of developing good comms, but in making sure when decisions are made the board consider: Will it really have an impact on the customer? Will people actually feel the benefit?”

Venner argues, however, that it is possible to explain the financial benefit of marketing without having a marketer on the board, you just have to work harder to foster relationships with board members and senior staff.

For marketers to be taken seriously, they need to show their business acumen and be the customers’ champion, agrees Caap. “Marketing will be more important and have a steady budget, funds and support if we can become better at arguing and discussing the ‘why and how’,” she says.

“Talking only about the bottom line is short-term thinking and if you want to create a brand it takes time to establish from the idea to actually reaching the consumer. Usually the people on the board are not the target audience, but we talk as if we are and that’s the biggest mistake we make.”

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Chasing the money

Gaming and gambling tops the list as the highest paying sector for marketers, boasting an average salary of £63,409, followed by consumer electronics (£56,901) and utilities (£56,716).

By contrast, the Career and Salary Survey reveals marketers working in the education sector earn the lowest average annual wage at £40,117. Those in the charity/not-for-profit sector and the construction and property industry are the next poorest paid, earning an average salary of £42,915 and £43,153, respectively.

Despite being the lowest paying sector and the one respondents feel least understands marketing, education ties jointly with telecoms and IT as the industry where marketers feel happiest, with 62.9% stating they are happy or very happy in their roles. Sport (61.9%) and the tech/software sector (60.9%) follow closely in the happiness stakes.

Conversely, the three sectors with the lowest happiness ratings among marketers are the public sector (46.9% happy or very happy), beauty (50%) and utilities (52.5%).

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Furthermore, the highest paying sectors are not always the most popular to work in. The survey finds that 33% of respondents would like to work in the travel and leisure sector, with 32.3% eyeing up a move into retail, wholesale and ecommerce, while 30.8% show an interest in entertainment.

By contrast, a mere 1.7% of marketers are considering a move into utilities, with only 2.2% interested in roles in the transport sector and 3% looking to work at an industry or trade body.

The data also shows a gender split. Whereas female marketers are most interested in working in travel and leisure (40.2%), retail, wholesale and ecommerce (34.9%) and entertainment (33%), male marketers are attracted to roles in sport (34.2%), technology/software (31.3%) and retail, wholesale and ecommerce (28.1%).

READ MORE: Salary Survey 2017 – The gender pay gap increases

Needs not being met

Having a good working environment is very important to 69.9% of marketers, even more so than the opportunity to advance their career (67.8%), fair financial rewards (65.7%) or job security (48.4%).

Yet despite rating high with 75.9% of female and 60.5% of male marketers, only 29% of respondents feel their companies are very good at delivering a good working environment.

A similar feeling of dissatisfaction is felt in other areas. Only a quarter of marketers (25.1%) feel their company offers them job security, with just 14.6% being offered opportunities to advance their career, and a mere 11.2% believe they are being given fair financial reward.

The same is true of the desire for training. Despite being very important to 39.9% of marketers, only 15.9% believe their companies deliver training well.

Although all their needs are not necessarily being met, marketers are staying in their roles for longer than last year. The number of marketers who have been in their job for zero to six months has fallen from 19.6% in 2016 to 13.5% in 2017. The same pattern is true for marketers in roles for seven to 12 months, falling from 17.6% in 2016 to 14.4% this year.

Conversely, a greater proportion of marketers have been working in their job for one to three years, 49.3% versus 43.9% in 2016. The number of marketers working in their job for four to six years has risen to 13.4% from 11.6% last year.

Priorities are shifting for marketers, moving away from pure financial motives to take a greater consideration of their wellbeing, says Venner.

“Things have changed in terms of what people rank as being important and more people are talking about work/life balance as something that’s important in terms of what the employer can offer,” she explains.

“I don’t believe it’s all about people moving for a promotion and money anymore, it’s people looking for companies which can offer them different things. So if you currently have a job at one company and you don’t have to work 12-hour days, you have flexible working and it’s a nice environment, you’re less likely to move for a small pay increase.”

Half of marketers (50.8%) believe staff levels at their business will increase in 2017, down from 56.4% who expected teams to grow last year. The percentage of marketers who say their teams will stay the same has increased from 30.5% in 2016 to 34% in 2017.

When times become more challenging commercially, marketing is always the first area that is questioned, particularly if it is not so understood.


Pete Markey, Aviva

In her responsibility for teams across Europe, the US, UK and Asia, Venner expects Hiscox to finish 2017 with more marketers than it started out with, strategically placed in the areas where the business is seeing strong growth.

“The biggest thing we will see will be a change in the mix of the team, the structure and the skill set. You can’t look at it in terms of numbers, it’s about what channels are driving the most growth and making sure you are resourcing them with the right skill set,” she adds.

For marketers to feel valued, they need to be viewed as a 360-degree person and encouraged to bring their whole self to work, says Markey at Aviva. He believes companies need to offer marketers a clear path for progression and react to increasing demand for data-driven skills.

“It is heart-breaking to see anyone have to leave a business and companies should provide a clear route for individuals who are looking for new opportunities, letting them rip up the standard job description to drive things beyond their core day job and gain greater influence in the business.

“We also need to be more deliberate about the skill set we need as marketing moves in a more analytical direction. The data-driven shift in marketing means the focus is more on the composition of teams and the skill sets needed, rather than the sheer volume of marketers.”

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Reflecting on the past year, 31.2% of marketers saw an increase in marketing personnel in 2016 compared with 34.3% in 2015. Of those surveyed 18.4% report a dip in marketing spend this year, up from 15.2% in 2016.

More than half of marketers (55.9%) have seen an element of restructure over the past 12 months versus 53.5% in 2016. An organisational change from local markets to centralised teams has been seen by 10.6%, while the reverse is true for 7% of marketers. The survey also reveals 27.3% of marketers have seen the number of brands and categories they work on increase.

A fast-paced industry constantly in flux, marketing in 2017 is changing and with it the career aspirations of marketers who are being forced to reassess their priorities like never before. Whereas 10 years ago financial rewards may have dominated decision making, now career breaks, flexible working and finding a good working environment are very much top of mind.

However, many needs are still not being met. A lack of understanding of marketing throughout the wider business coupled with the growing gender pay gap has left marketers dissatisfied, so a concerted effort from the top to break down internal silos and achieve pay parity is desperately needed.

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