by Johanna McDowell (@jomcdowell) At this particular Marketers’ Masterclass session, we had Prof Nicola Kleyn, dean of the Gordon Institute of Business Science, discussing the return on investment for marketers. The session was extremely well-attended by more than 32 leading marketers looking for the answer to this question.

Of most importance

What was of most importance was to define the role of marketing, and to understand the “mental footprint of marketing in the boardroom”.

Marketing’s role has become more and more important — and probably less and less understood — in today’s world. Marketers do have to take responsibility for ensuring that their role is understood by their colleagues, especially those in the financial departments of their organisations. It could be said that “marketing needs to work on its own packaging!”

Marketing’s role in this messy world is to help understand the impact of the customer and to enable business to fulfil the customer’s needs. Now that there are more and more measurement tools available to monitor results, measure outcomes, plan and adjust marketing campaigns, the demands on the marketer become even greater.

Technical and financial skills

So marketers will have to make space in their departments for experts who can take the business from customer impact to market share. These will be marketers with strong technical and financial skills, able to use statistics from the various measurements, put these findings in front of the marketing team, and empower them to come up with new strategies and tactics based upon real data.

At times, it will not be possible to measure everything, which is when marketers will have to step up and talk about “where the magic happens”. Not everything may be measured; marketing is often intuitive and we wouldn’t want to only use measurable marketing tactics.

Ultimately, the question is: Are our marketing capabilities enabling us to measure ROI? There has to be a willingness to unlearn old habits in marketing, and relearn and experiment.

Reporting to the same director

Some other observations that Kleyn made were that sometimes marketing has more power in an organisation when sales and marketing report to the same director. A direct relationship is then often established and is immediately measurable.

The tenure of a CMO (the average is about three years) may also affect the credibility of marketing in the organisation; too many changes might signify that marketing is a less-important job in the C-Suite.

Seven Cs of Marketing

Finally, the “Seven Cs of Marketing” model was set out as follows:

  • CLARIFYING marketing’s role in ROI
  • CONFIRM the meaning of marketing
  • CONCEPTUALISE how we as marketers create value for the firm
  • Choose when to abandon CAUSALITY
  • Understand how CONTEXT shapes our assumptions
  • Close CAPABILITY gaps
  • Maximise our C-Suite CONTRIBUTION.


Johanna McDowellJohanna McDowell (@jomcdowell) is managing director of the Independent Agency Search and Selection Company (IAS), and she is one of the few experts driving this mediation and advisory service in SA and globally. Currently she is running the IAS Marketers Masterclass, a programme consisting of masterclasses held in Cape Town and in Johannesburg. Twice a year she attends AdForum Worldwide Summits.

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