BLOG: Not up where you belong…

The B2B Marketing team have asked me to speak at the next Leaders' Forum on 19 September on the subject of why marketing has become so disconnected from the boardroom and what we can do about it.

Perhaps recognising that I'm not such a big name draw as my fellow speakers from Fujitsu, O2, Circle Research, and The Next Big Thing or as the legendary Joel Harrison, Samantha Pashley at B2B Marketing has asked me to do a bit more blogging and even to try out a Vine or two before my talk to big myself up a bit.

Well I'm always up for a challenge. So here we go...

At the Forum, the B2B Marketing team will be talking about a fascinating piece of research - the 2013 B2B Leaders Report. The statistics in the report that really drew my attention were that three quarters of marketing leaders (VPs, Heads of, Directors, CMOs) in medium sized businesses or corporates agree that marketing is central to their organisation's success, and only half feel it is getting the resources it needs to deliver that success. In fact I've had to re-read these numbers a couple of times to be sure I've not misunderstood.

For what that means is that 24% of CMOs think that their own marketing is not key to the success of their business. How can we explain this? Perhaps those leaders simply felt that they do not do marketing terribly well and were being honest about it. If that's the case, then all power to them! The first step on the path to improvement is to recognise that things aren't optimal.

But I fear that the truth behind the 24% figure is somewhat different... My own twenty years of experience suggests that it rather points to the many B2B marketing departments that have lost their way, their confidence in their ability to matter to the businesses they support shot to pieces by years of criticism or misunderstanding from the Board. B2B marketing departments once co-located with Board members have been moved away. The areas of marketing most associated with outcome like sales have been stripped away. The CMO has been pushed out of key discussions on business strategy and targeting. The marketing team has been limited to event execution or brochure design. Broad marketing terms like "brand" have been limited to encompassing the company logo use. B2B marketing has been moved into a place in the organisation where it can't do any harm. Because no Board can yet consider getting rid of the marketing department completely. Yet.

And that picture seems to be confirmed by the second statistic that I quoted above. Marketing is not getting the assets it needs because it is no longer a credible force in the Boardroom. It no longer has a voice. And far from being improved by the digital age, the malaise is deepening.

That's my personal experience and that of those in my B2B marketing network - indeed I have spent my career pushing to get marketing back up where it belongs.

This is the malaise that I want to discuss at the Leaders' Forum (you can book your place at or for the next few posts on this blog. Do you see the same malaise? What can be done?

Drop me a line on Twitter (@DaveStevensNow) or on LinkedIn ( and let me know your marketing role, the size of your company and whether or not you sit on the Board, how frequently you discuss marketing with your CEO, and whether marketing plays an advisory role in your business...

I'll collate your views and report back.