Making marketing work
The key role marketing plays in building a successful enterprise was highlighted at a special Lancashire Business View roundtable.
The online event, sponsored by Bigtank Video Productions, examined the value that marketeers can bring to the boardroom and the role marketing can and should play in decision-making and driving businesses forward.
The roundtable heard how successful businesses paid more attention to their brand values and listened to their customers and their staff to inform decision making.
Dawn Stockell, marketing director at Burnley-based manufacturer VEKA, said: “It’s of huge importance to any company to have totally clear positioning. “Whether that’s your brand or your business, it is so important to have that clarity and vision, mission, and values, what you stand for.
“Not only does it help differentiate you from your competitors, but also it gives you that sense of purpose. It should be developed from the insight, the research, the data that tells you actually that’s what’s important.”
Reta Rose, who heads the marketing at Farleys solicitors, said: “In a boardroom situation you’ll get a lot of top-level conversations around company assets.
“But a lot of companies forget that your brand is probably your most important asset, because that’s what drives the business, that’s what makes people choose you over other people.”
Guy Cookson, marketing director and partner at Lancaster-based creative agency Hotfoot Design, said: “Businesses can be really quite introspective, looking at the bottom-line quarter-to-quarter, seeing how efficiencies can be made, and forgetting sometimes about what customers actually care about.
“That might be a complimentary drink in a hotel room, a special vegan dish on a menu of a restaurant group, or a commitment to sustainability.
“All of these kinds of things that might look like costs to the rest of the group, but marketing is there to say it’s actually an investment and that it’s important to cater to niche audiences, it’s important to think about the things that can’t be measured sometimes that people really care about.”
Rob Hallam, managing director at Bigtank Video Productions, said: “You can run a survivable business without marketing, without making videos, without doing social media, but if you want to be brilliant then you absolutely do need us.”
He said that businesses sometimes looked to reduce their marketing efforts when facing challenging circumstances and added: “We would say, if there is a blip or you need to redouble your efforts, shift everything into marketing, providing you can still deliver what you’re delivering, and that’s the time to put those messages out there to remind people about what the company stands for.”
Oyetola Emmanuel-Ebikake, senior lecturer in business and management at Edge Hill University, said its research revealed that some companies were not paying “sufficient attention” to their customer base and added “this is where the marketing function comes in.”
She said businesses should do more to gain insights from their customers and use that information to inform their decision making, as well as listening to their employees more.
Steve Brennan, chief executive of Bespoke Digital, said: “Marketing works when a business stops and steps back and develops clarity, develops insights and asks, ‘what should we actually be doing?’ rather than, ‘what have we always done?’.
Jenny Woolley, director at TWA Marketing, said that from a marketing agency point of view it was vital to have “board buy-in”. She added: “We need to see the senior decision maker at every meeting, we need them there.”
She said that agencies could play a valuable role in discovering the real perception of a business, both in the marketplace and internally, and feeding that back to the decision makers, particularly if there was a “big disconnect” between the boardroom and those on the ground.
Penny Roadway marketing designer at Burnley manufacturing business Panaz, said the business worked hard to raise brand awareness.
She said: “Brand is really important to us, and promoting that brand is really important.
“Although it’s great to get the brand across all our marketing materials and to be consistent with that in everything that we do and everything we put out, it is also really important to make the brand more available to the wider public as well.”