Smart moves: New status, old snobs

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The Independent Online
MARKETING specialists would do well not to bask in the glory of their newly attained chartered status. Even as the first 1,800 chartered marketers were celebrating, research was published showing a strong anti-marketing bias in British business.

A survey commissioned by the Chartered Institute of Marketing revealed that 80 per cent of company directors believe there is a cultural prejudice against marketing in British business.

Moreover, it was found that there was a reluctance to appoint marketers to company boards despite wide recognition of their role. Of the directors questioned, 37 per cent said marketing was the most important factor in business success - second only to quality of product, at 45 per cent, and well ahead of accounting/finance and human resources, which were seven per cent and 10 per cent respectively.

However, only 49 per cent of the companies surveyed have a marketing director on the board, in contrast to the 88 per cent with a board-level finance director and the 47 per cent with a human resources director.

The first chartered marketers include Mair Barnes, chairman of Vantios, the holding company for Dollond & Aitchison opticians; Professor Malcolm MacDonald of the Cranfield School of Management; and Baroness O'Cathain who, besides being president of the Chartered Institute of Marketing, is a non-executive director of Tesco and British Airways.

But, overall, marketers have considerable ground to make up if they want to enjoy the respect of colleagues from other disciplines. According to the survey, 52 per cent of non-marketing directors see marketers as less professional than lawyers, surveyors and accountants and 19 per cent put their professionalism below that of financial advisers.

Steve Cuthbert, director-general of the Chartered Institute of Marketing, said: "The idea that marketing is an expensive optional 'black art' persists in British businesses despite acceptance of the increasingly crucial role of marketing in success.

"Marketers need to convince their colleagues in other business disciplines of the need to become customer driven and to deliver superior added value to the consumer. When we have achieved this, attitudes will change."

Indeed, the research suggests support for his contention that the "chartered marketer" status will play a major role in transforming attitudes towards marketing and in challenging existing misconceptions. Forty-four per cent of directors indicated that their companies would in future require their heads of marketing to be chartered marketers.