I recently had the pleasure of participating in an event with the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM). The theme was Future Focus and was part of their current campaign looking at the questions and challenges facing marketing between now and 2025.

It was a thoroughly interesting event with a very notable panel including representatives from McCann Manchester, Everton Football Club, Kenyon Fraser and CIM.

The evening began with each panel member giving their introductions and own thoughts as to what the future of marketing holds. The discussion was then turned on its head when the first question from the audience was “What is marketing?”

The reasoning behind the question was that each panel member gave a very different opinion of what they think marketing is, what it represents and it’s influence on businesses. It was clear from outset that the term marketing means very different things to different types and size of businesses.

This very simple question set the tone for the evening.

Instead of looking at what challenges marketing faces in the future, the focus had shifted and was now very much focused on the challenges marketing faces more immediately…

Because marketing is such a comprehensive discipline, encompasses so much and underpins such a large part of what businesses are and do it was felt that marketing’s identity has become confused. Despite many ideas and strategies advised by marketers truly transforming the success of businesses, it is no doubt invaluable. However, the result of this misconception is that the significance of marketing is largely underestimated.

A number of people also felt that businesses in receipt of marketing advice, ideas and consultancy don’t understand the value they receive or attribute successes to marketing.

The conversation then flowed and moved on to other reasons that the audience thought marketing is often undervalued and misrepresented when compared to other professional services.

The quality and credibility of marketing practitioners came in to question. It was identified that Lawyers and Accountants are required to be trained, qualified and regulated in their discipline to be able to practice. As professionals, why therefore shouldn’t marketers be the same?

The audience also questioned the CIM’s role in regulating the industry. Should it take a stronger position and stipulate that people working in marketing are required to be Chartered and more accountable for the advice they give.

Perhaps this is why other professional services have a greater respect in the boardroom and can often command higher salaries and day rates than those who practice marketing.

The summary of the event was that marketing needs to define its own brand. It needs a strong and common identity from which to communicate what it is and how it truly adds tangible value to businesses.

I left the event feeling that as an industry, marketing has its work cut out over the next ten years. While I foresee it playing an increasingly important role in business, both at an operational level and in boardroom, as we head toward 2025 there is considerable amount of work to do to build the credibility of marketing as a discipline and really engage people with the value it provides.

I’d like to thank the CIM for a truly interesting and thought provoking evening. I look forward to seeing how these discussions progress over the course of the coming months and years. To see for yourself please get in touch or visit: www.marketing2025.com or join the conversation on Twitter #marketing2025.


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