How to lead change and set business strategy as a marketer
Marketing Week’s Marketer of the Year, ITV’s Rufus Radcliffe, and judges of its Top 100 Most Effective Marketers ranking revealed at the Festival of Marketing the key skills and attributes that set marketers apart as true leaders
Bravery, adaptability and influence – that’s what defines the world’s best marketers as genuine leaders, as delegates learned at the Festival of Marketing.
Bravery is something that’s close to the heart of Rufus Radcliffe, chief marketing officer at ITV and Marketing Week’s Marketer of the Year. ITV recently found itself at the centre of an Ofcom complaints storm, with 24,500 viewers protesting against the dance group Diversity’s Black Lives Matter-themed performance during the Britain’s Got Talent semi-finals.
The broadcaster responded by taking out full-page adverts in all national newspapers in support of the performance, garnering respect and praise from media personalities, commentators and the general public. Radcliffe explained during a panel session at the Festival how bravery is part of the ITV brand story, but brave marketers are more likely to succeed when backed by their leadership and wider business.
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“It’s also a value that that needs to be shared across the company for it to really cut through. We're fortunate that our CEO, Carolyn [McCall], has bravery in her DNA and she's very passionate about the role ITV can play, not only in entertaining millions, but about the social purpose behind what we do. So good marketers need to be brave, but having the unequivocal sponsorship of the broader organisation to do that makes a hell of a difference.”
“One of the big parts of the ITV story we want to tell is around social purpose, because we're very proud of the impact we can have on society and the things we can do to raise awareness of important issues,” he said.
“From that point of view, bravery is naturally driven across the organisation. We have a duty to be brave because of the platform that we've been given, so that is a cultural value that is really important for marketing success.
Leadership during Covid
Bravery also goes hand in hand with adaptability, as noted by Ashling Kearns, VP of EMEA marketing for Salesforce, which sponsored Marketing Week’s Top 100 Most Effective Marketers list, and the Marketer of the Year award.
“It’s in a marketer's DNA to adapt, every single day - be it on a campaign’s message or strategic direction, or during Covid, where you're getting these great marketing leaders, adapting to the current situation,” said Kearns. It “plays into this beautiful package” of value a marketing leader can bring to the C-suite, she added.
“This crisis has provided great marketing leaders with an opportunity to reset how they're leading in a very empathetic way. Marketers are coming to the table by driving change through their business, being the focal voice for the customer but also balancing this with a really empathetic, relevant message. In this Covid crisis, you're seeing marketers take active leadership roles, looking not only after their employees’ well being, but their customers’ and the community’s,” Kearns continued.
“I'm extremely proud of how marketing has showed off its leadership during this period. We've really come into our own.”
And as Sherilyn Shackell, CEO and founder of the Marketing Academy noted, it’s leadership that distinguishes ordinary marketers from the extraordinary. She was one of the judges who determined the marketers that made it into the Top 100.
“Leadership is the difference between being super successful, and just being good at your job,” she said, adding that influence is a key ingredient.
“Being an outstanding leader has nothing to do with being in a position of hierarchy, authority or power, or how many people they manage in their team. It’s to do with the influence they bring to bear over the people around them in every context. We are in a leadership industry. So the difference for me is, if you focus on leadership capability assuming that you've got a modicum of skillset, you can be extraordinary - not just a good marketer.”■