The marketing director’s first
By JONATHAN TURNER
The recent 'First 100 Days' OR ANY executive, the first 100 objectives. This three-ball juggling act
(F100D) report by Oxford days (F100D) of a new role are requires conscious mastery of the ten-
fraught with anxiety. ‘How bad sions and overlaps between the three
Strategic Marketing and are things really? What are the real challenges.
Hunter-Miller, the executive expectations of me? Will I find what I Based on depth interviews with 25
search consultants, identified expected to find? Will I fit the culture? senior marketers, and quantitative
Do I actually have what it takes to do interviews with another 50, Oxford
eight essential factors for success
the job? Can I establish a consensus to Strategic Marketing has developed a
in the first 100 days. Here, one of make the changes required?’ universal F100D roadmap to increase
the report’s co-authors explores So much is par for the course. But marketers’ chances of success.
what makes F100D so hard for for marketing directors, these superfi-
cial stresses of a new job mask sub-
marketers, and explains what it
really takes to succeed in this
stantive tensions, reflecting the chang-
ing role of marketing, the ways in
the first 100
1 Why arefor marketers?days
critical period which it supports the organisation, All executives need to find the right
and what it takes to lead this complex balance between achieving short-term
function. outcomes, and setting and embedding a
For a new marketing director, the long-term vision. However, the F100D
usual tensions of the first 100 days are challenge is particularly acute for mar-
magnified. The fact that marketing keting directors, for several reasons.
directors last only an average of 22
months in the role is both a cause and Marketing budget allocation is by no
an effect of the unique characteristics means automatic.
of marketing and marketers. There is rarely a linear causality
In this article, I will try to address between marketing inputs and busi-
the following five questions. ness outcomes.
There is minimal operational
1. Why is F100D so hard for mar- dependency upon the marketing
keters? budget, and marketing is thus often
2. What tensions does F100D create? deemed to be ‘discretionary spend’.
3. How can marketers resolve these Marketing often makes as great a
tensions? contribution to long-term equity as
4. How should marketers plan for it does to short-term sales, and thus
F100D before the job starts? cutting marketing budgets will
5. What should marketers do in always bring short-term gain.
The marketing function is increasingly
For any marketer wanting to make a diffuse.
big impact, success means balancing Many organisations now strive for
and connecting three tasks: the focus- marketing ‘orientation’, rather than
ing of the marketing function; the a powerful department per se.
development of its resources; and the As marketing has spread as an ethos,
successful attainment of key business so the ‘seven or more’ Ps overseen
Jonathan Turner is Managing Consultant of by marketing are increasingly co-
Oxford Strategic Marketing. owned by other functions.
2 Market Leader Spring 2006
‘Be consistent from low levels of rigour. environment of the organisation.’
The proliferation of marketing pro- Our marketing directors endorsed
day one. Don’t take fessionals has outstripped the capac- this view. Interviewees were clearly
ity of the industry to train them concerned to optimise three distinct
a honeymoon within its traditional structures. arenas: evaluating, building and then
period’ New, more bespoke training
approaches have only recently
applying the marketing resources,
while simultaneously developing and
emerged to augment them. focusing the role of the marketing
The showy elements of marketing function, and trying to assess and also
(e.g. advertising awards) continue to address the particular business situa-
dominate public perception above tion. Each carries its own tensions.
the graft of what OxfordSM calls In thinking about your resources, is
‘hard marketing’. the requirement to build on the exist-
ing infrastructure, and grow your
The personality of marketers may con- resources, or are you having to
flict with fellow board members. reshape and reconfigure it to increase
Marketers tend to be more extrovert the effectiveness? The balance
and intuitive than fellow directors. between reshaping and building is dif-
They may, in consequence, be poor ferent in every role, but the building
listeners, leading to miscommunica- challenge is obviously more common
tion, and susceptible to allegations in new media or service environments,
Marketing often exerts influence, of lax standards. and the reshaping is commonly an
rather than control, over critical Marketers tend towards inductive, fmcg challenge.
elements of the user experience, and rather than deductive, reasoning, In understanding the role of the
has increasingly become a collabo- founding strategy upon beliefs and marketing function, are marketers
rative rather than a controlling inferences, rather than facts and striving to be influencers (more typical
function. observations. in service industries) or controllers (in
The desire to make stepwise the archetypal fmcg guise)? Each car-
The role of the function is unique to each changes within the business prom- ries its own implications.
corporation. ise may conflict with operational ‘If you move to fmcg, you really
The corporate prominence accord- realities for customers – actually have to understand the manufacturing
ed to the function varies dramatical- destroying value. and operational restrictions of your
ly, depending upon its role within role,’ said one director.
the corporation as a genuine growth Taken together, these factors mean Equally, moving the other way can be
champion, a service provider, or that marketing job definitions are
something in between. harder to get to grips with; expecta-
The spread of activities undertak- tions are more difficult to manage; and
en by marketers is increasingly relationships are both more critical to
vast, and each marketer has a build, and harder to cement, than for
unique portfolio across need other functions.
assessment, product or service-
design, through to promotions,
channel management and even
corporate social responsibility.
2 What tensions do these
Traditional distinctions between As Marketing Society chief executive
fmcg and B2B are no longer clear, Hugh Burkitt has commented: ‘In
as a focus on customer experience theory, marketing directors have the
and the growing importance of opportunity to make themselves
corporate branding impact both accountable for marketing strategy,
segments. marketing tactics, customer insight
‘Three months of
The reputation of the function remains
and marketing capabilities. But
based on their own unique skill-sets
your activism is not
poor. they must find a balance, among the going to save the
Marketing as a profession retains an challenges they find, the resources
image of poor accountability and in place, and the unique cultural company’
Market Leader Spring 2006 3
just as tough: ‘You may not so easily resources and operational effective-
be able to measure your marketing
‘Don’t itch to ness.
performance in B2B. Adjusting can
be difficult,’ said another (B2B)
change the ad Going in, a new marketing director
needs an operating hypothesis of their
director. agency. It’s rare own ‘fit’ to the role, and a plan to gain
The truth, inevitably, is that mar- early operational wins and team
keters combine elements of both roles, that the only engagement.
and a directive/persuasive character is From day one, marketing directors
key to success.
source of the fault must validate and consciously balance
In the third arena, the senior mar-
keter must consider the nature of the
is there’ their attention between the transfor-
mational and problem-fixing roles
business situation he/she is facing. they are being handed, and identify
Again, there will be a tension between key milestones and metrics along the
the short-term fix, and the long-term way in terms of resource development,
gain. marketing strategy and operational
As one interviewee said: ‘It all delivery.
depends on the mess you inherit. If it’s The first 100 days is undoubtedly a
a big mess, you have to make decisions challenge, but with a clear approach
quickly even if you know less. If all is and operational framework in place,
basically well, you are crazy to make it can be a chance to create lasting
big decisions early.’ impact and goodwill across the
Into this volatile mix come two fur- organisation.
ther factors: the marketer’s own
character, and the corporate culture
they are entering into. While a direc-
tor’s character (experience, skills,
understand each of the three areas
(resources, role and situation) in as
5 What their First 100 Days
personality and networks) is their much detail as they can in the job?
greater asset, that asset can only be understand the connections and From our quantitative and qualitative
injected through the membrane of dependencies between the three research, Oxford SM and Hunter-
the existing corporate culture – areas Miller set out to understand how suc-
which is much more resilient than understand their own role (and the cessful marketing directors address
any marketer. cultural constraints) in optimising these tensions in reality. We identi-
The first task, well before the first each area fied common success factors for a
100 days, is an honest self-appraisal, invest their attention in maximising successful first 100 days. They are
and the second is to assess, understand the synergies between the three certainly not universally applicable,
and interpret the corporate culture. areas but they did appear with sufficient
‘Anchor yourself to the corporate cul- frequency to be recommended as
ture rather than running around try- If ‘deep enough’ understanding can valuable suggestions from our
ing to appear creative,’ said one senior be established in the first 30 days, so experts.
B2B marketer. much the better. But in almost all We summarise them in the follow-
cases, this learning process will take ing eight points.
3 How can these tensions the full 100 days, and must move in
lock-step with action-taking. Hit the ground running
be resolved? The majority of our respondents
For all its peculiarities, the complex agreed that the realities of a new job
F100D juggling challenge is, in many
ways, just a special (but more intense)
4 Before the job starts:
How should marketers
can be different from the initial job
description, but this cannot be taken
case of any leadership situation. plan for the first 100 days? as an excuse for complacency. In the
According to the founding father of It begins well before the new job depth interviews, we heard consis-
action-centred leadership, John Adair, starts. From the moment a market- tent confirmation of the need to pre-
successful leadership depends upon ing director secures a new role, a plan, and to be ready to go on day
juggling three balls: the task, the pre-plan should be in place to nego- one. ‘Be consistent from day one.
group and the individuals. tiate operating resources, gain maxi- Don’t take a honeymoon period,’
Within the first 100 days, marketing mum customer insight and start said Andrew Mullins from News
directors should strive to: informally assessing the quality of International.
4 Market Leader Spring 2006
Actions: previous operational successes cannot
Develop a pre-plan. Do your own simply be superimposed onto a new
mystery shopping. Assimilate historic organisation. Tim Seager of Scottish
research. Meet colleagues. Learn Courage was typical: ‘You can’t carry a
everything possible about the brand model around. You must focus on
and its customers. what the problem is.’
Suppress the marketing psyche Actions:
In the words of one senior marketer, Conduct rigorous business analysis to
‘marketers can be vain, shallow and determine the requirements of the
talk bollocks’. Suppressing marketing marketing function. Don’t make
flamboyance is a must-do for F100D assumptions.
success. ‘Don’t try and be too clever,
ramming marketing theory down Build your front bench rapidly
other people’s throats,’ said Chris ‘You can’t carry a The critical nature of resources is
Harris, of Nokia. acknowledged. Getting the team right
model around. You should be the first priority for a new
Actions: marketing director.
Recognise that marketers may be psy-
must focus on what ‘Find your front bench quickly and
chologically different from other
board directors. Establish your per-
the problem is’ then build the support on your back-
benches. The quickest route to failure
sonal fit for the role before you start. is not having the right resources,’ said
Andrew Blazye of Shell.
Resist the ‘quick wins itch’
Our senior marketers were clear that Actions:
successful marketers hold their Actions: Assess resources early, and address the
nerve and resist the pressure for a Assess the health and role of the mar- shortfalls. Assess your own capabilities
‘rapid but wrong’ solution. A major- keting function as an early priority. as a leader and teacher in plugging the
ity of respondents said that too many Your goal is to build a marketing func- skills gaps you have identified.
marketers pursue immediate change, tion that’s fit for customer purpose.
rather than listening and learning. Treat your advisers as partners
Humility and common sense are Recruit internal allies While the internal resource should
required. As Ian Ryder of Unisys With marketing activities increasingly come first, it makes absolute sense to
said: ‘Three months of your activism dispersed across the enterprise, col- review your external resources. But
is not going to save the company.’ laboration is acknowledged to be crit- this should be done with an aspiration
ical. A collaborative approach with to fully exploit their capabilities and
Actions: the sales director was believed to be link them to your objectives. It is a
Recognise the need to build a sustain- the single most important relation- mistake to judge on past experience
able vision as well as fix problems. ship. A passive approach will not hold alone. ‘Don’t itch to change the ad
Consciously plan the balance of your water. ‘Take control of how internal agency. It’s rare that the only source of
efforts. people understand what you are the fault is there,’ said one director,
doing,’ said Chris Thomas, marketing who wished to remain unnamed.
Build the role of the whole market- director of IT services provider,
ing function Impaq Group. Actions:
The form that the function takes will Make sure you lead and ‘own’ the
be unique to each organisation but, Actions: strategy development. But be man/
for most, the ability to represent the Build alliances with those you need, woman-enough to accept whatever
value-desires of the customer inter- and those who need you. Talk the lan- help you need to get the job done. ❦
nally was their core role. It is only in guage of commercial success that is
serving the customer better that understood by your new company. firstname.lastname@example.org
marketing generates competitive
advantage. ‘It should not be “market- Adapt your personal experience to This is an edited version of the full report.
ing” director, it should be “competi- the corporate culture For further detail regarding findings, ref-
tion” director,’ said Nick Fell of Whatever our interviewees’ previous erences and implications for marketers, see
Cadbury Schweppes. successes, they were very clear that www.first100days.co.uk.
Market Leader Spring 2006 5