Senior marketers failing to place enough emphasis on organisation's strategic goals, research finds

marketers failing to plan for their organisation's strategic goals

Senior marketers are not placing enough emphasis on strategic goals of their organisations and too much on tactical activities, according to research released by Xaxis in partnership with The Economist. Overall, it found that over a quarter were not aligned with the direction of the company.

The survey of 250 senior marketing practitioners formed the basis for the report ‘Accountability in Marketing: Linking Tactics to Strategy, Customer Focus and Growth.’ It suggested that there was a clear desire for more simplicity when it came to understanding data with most respondents (55%) believing that marketing platforms are too fragmented and failed to offer a comprehensive overview of tactical marketing investments.

Improved accountability was seen by 60% of respondents as a way to reach strategic goals. Over half also said data analytical abilities and data analysis are not worthwhile as a result of their company’s data skills being so weak.

“Data is useless without the ability to analyse it and gain insight that lets you talk to the right customers at the right time and makes you more likely to be effective,” stated Darrell Sansom, chief marketing officer of Axa UK, on the findings of the research.

Just under a third (31%) also stated that the biggest challenge for a marketer looking to contribute to the strategic goals of an organisation was down to too strong a focus on tactical objectives, with less (30%) claiming that the marketing performance indicators are determined by the organisation’s strategic goals. Over a quarter (27%) believe that tactical marketing is not aligned with the goals at all.

There is also an expectation that marketers will be able to demonstrate their contribution towards the strategic goals of any company; over 80% of respondents said their department was partially accountable for reaching strategic goals, although less than half (46%) revealed their performance was assessed in accordance with that basis.

Simon Sproule, vice-president and chief marketing officer at Aston Martin Lagonda, stated his belief that marketing departments had to be fully accountable and adopt a top-down approach. “Ultimately, the measure of marketing success is the achievement of the business plan, both in terms of sales and profitability. How many cars do we need to sell to create a profitable business? We work back from there when deciding how to spend our pot of marketing money,” he said.

Sansom spoke about the marketing set up within his own organisation: “While the overall strategic ambitions must have a financial element, the reality is a lot of AXA’s KPIs are increasingly centred on customers, such as how many products each individual has—an expression of loyalty and engagement.”

Elsewhere, the report cited that over the next two-to-three years, 36% of the respondents from across Europe said they expected to have an improvement in data analytics, while 56% predicted more accountability for tactical activities and a heightened contribution to strategic aims.

Sproule also revealed that the budget process at Aston Martin Lagonda utilised granular analysis of the impact through the various marketing challenges that are adopted by the brand to ensure no budget is wasted on ineffective channels: “It gives us the ability to track prospects through their purchase cycle and look at the interaction we had with them to gauge whether the various activities we were doing were successful in converting them to become customers,” he explained. “So when we come to set our budget for next year, we can base the decision on what was most effective last year.”

Ultimately, 60% of respondents said they felt that marketing must do better and that improvements were needed to make more of a contribution to the strategic goals of their organization.

The research was conducted by The Economist Intelligence Unit and sponsored by Xaxis, with respondents hailing from Spain, Norway, Italy, the UK, Germany, Denmark, Finland and Sweden.

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Stephen Lepitak

Stephen Lepitak is editor of The Drum, with responsibility for overseeing the day-to-day running of the content produced for the various platforms run by the publication. Over the years he has interviewed agency network bosses such as Sir Martin Sorrell, Maurice Lévy and Arthur Sadoun, as well as Cindy Gallop, Kim Kardashian, film directors James Cameron, Spike Jonze, Richard Curtis and Lord David Puttnam. With a keen interest in media and breaking news, Lepitak has been with The Drum since 2005 and is based across its UK, US and Asia operations.

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