Wanted: skills in art and alchemy

Marketing Editor Noelle McElhatton
Marketing Editor Noelle McElhatton

Fad or trend? Knowing the difference can be a matter of marketing life or death.

To ride the wave and be a hero, or to crash into the sand and be a loser?

Nowhere is this analogy of the marketing discipline more true than in the tech sector.

Dyed-in-the-wool, classic, mainstream FMCG marketers have had to wake up and smell all the flavours of the mobile app, LinkedIn, social-media cappuccino (see our Talent special). How much more so for their peers in the sector that is driving technology-based change?

Perhaps this explains Microsoft's marketing reshuffle. Emerging from the cull is one Philippa Snare; interestingly, she has a background that straddles business and marcomms.

As HR experts and recruitment consultants point out, these days you need an iron grip on the numbers, as well as being comfortable with the beanbag-hugging side of the role. There is always tension between the science and the art of going beyond the sell to the alchemy of understanding the consumer so well.

Finding people who do this has itself become the subject of science. Gut instinct is all very well, but when an organisation's fortunes are ever-more reliant on how it presents itself not only to consumers, but to legislators, business partners and the City, then the role of chief marketer is not something best left to chance.

Perhaps this is why Microsoft has gone for a known quantity - Snare has worked at the brand since 2000. Eurostar has also promoted from within, by elevating Lionel Benbassat to overall marketing chief.

Whoever has these roles maybe should not have 'marketing' in their title. After all, for a peerless example of marketing leadership, we have only to look to the late and lamented Steve Jobs.

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