Frequent change prevents achievement


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Back in 2010, surveys by the CMO Council in the United States and the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) in Britain suggested that on average, marketing staff remained in their position for only 18 to 24 months or less. In subsequent years little seems to have changed. Recent copies of the CIM’s magazine Catalyst have featured marketing executives who appear to have changed jobs with a similar frequency. It is open to question whether such a frequency of change is to the benefit of businesses or to the individual.

The CIM defines Marketing as “the management process that identifies anticipates and satisfies customer requirements profitably”. Anticipating and satisfying customer demands to produce sustainable and profitable income requires the careful management of many customer related activities including, advertising and promotion, marketing research, product development, brand management, distribution as well as the act of selling that ultimately brings in the money. As a management process, those activities involved in producing income by getting and retaining business, otherwise known as marketing, often involve staff whose tenure in post is measured in months rather than years. In such circumstances, how can long term objectives be achieved? When events occur or there are changes in market conditions which cause lessons to be learnt, how can those lessons be implemented if the personnel who supposedly learnt them are no longer there? Institutions and companies are made up of people, so that such corporate memory as there is only exists in people that work there. Where there is a frequent turnover of staff, there is little scope for corporate memory, so that the personnel frequently waste time and resources reinventing the wheel. This is particularly apparent in marketing organizations, where the short term nature of staff manifests itself in a culture of constant change. There is nothing wrong with change, but the nature of change and its frequency can and does cause problems, especially when they are not fully implemented before being changed again. With frequent changes of marketing staff there is a cost to the business in loss of knowledge and experience, plus the financial cost of recruiting, and training.

Commercial managers are responsible for producing sustainable profitable income for the long term. To do this effectively, requires both new ideas, experience of the market and an understanding of the business’s previous business getting and retaining activities. The problem for commercial managers, is that it would appear to be the case that a majority of their employed marketing practitioners see frequent job change as a way of career development towards a high paying placement. This may be good for the individual, but it is not good for a business, as such people generally do not think and act for the long term benefit of the organization,

Having a marketing strategy, a plan and a target for sales and income are all important but they are not enough to ensure that a business is successful. Ultimately the only way that a strategy is followed, a marketing plan adhered to and sales and income targets achieved is by “Making it happen.” Achieving planned objectives require a continuity of actions, and personnel, changes in either of which will potentially have a negative impact on the planned result.

Putting it simply, the ability of a commercial manager to “make it happen”, is the deciding factor that divides successful from unsuccessful businesses. “Making it happen”, in terms of producing income, requires the effective management of the business getting and retaining function of an organization, by a commercial manager with the ability to motivate personnel and the ability to demonstrate effective leadership.

From a management perspective, continuity of tenure of personnel is important for stability and the achievement of business objectives. Continuity is especially important for staff involved in developing and maintaining necessary customer relationships which produce the income.

The late Robert Townshend, former chairman of Avis and author of the internationally acclaimed best seller, “Up the Organization,” advocated using outside full service marketing agencies, as a cost effective alternative to employing ,internal marketing specialists of which there is a frequent turnover, as it reduced the marketing overhead, and gave greater flexibility to use resources as necessary. These marketing agencies can provide a necessary continuity of specialist support as and when required, for marketing communications, market research, data management of customer relationship, and any other specialist services as required.

Commercial managers will be judged on their ability to maximize profitable income while minimising costs and investment, thus their ability to lead and manage a marketing team that may be subject to personnel change, will be fundamental to the success or failure to “Make it happen.”

© N.C.Watkis, Contract Marketing Service 26 Apr 21

Nicholas Watkis, AE MA DipM CMC FCIM
Nicholas Watkis set up Contract Marketing Service in 1981, providing professional interim marketing management for a wide variety of businesses. Over 30 years practical experience in organizations, large and small, national and international, led to the development of Business Performance Maximized specialist in marketing performance measurement.


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