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Not up where you belong…

marketing is  too hardThe B2B Marketing team have asked me to speak at the next Leaders’ Forum on 19 September on the subject of why marketing has become so disconnected from the boardroom and what we can do about it.

Perhaps recognising that I’m not such a big name draw as my fellow speakers from Fujitsu, O2, Circle Research, and The Next Big Thing or as the legendary Joel Harrison, Samantha Pashley at B2B Marketing has asked me to do a bit more blogging and even to try out a Vine or two before my talk to big myself up a bit.

Well I’m always up for a challenge. So here we go…

At the Forum, the B2B Marketing team will be talking about a fascinating piece of research – the 2013 B2B Leaders Report. The statistics in the report that really drew my attention were that three quarters of marketing leaders (VPs, Heads of, Directors, CMOs) in medium sized businesses or corporates agree that marketing is central to their organisation’s success, and only half feel it is getting the resources it needs to deliver that success. In fact I’ve had to re-read these numbers a couple of times to be sure I’ve not misunderstood.

For what that means is that 24% of CMOs think that their own marketing is not key to the success of their business. How can we explain this? Perhaps those leaders simply felt that they do not do marketing terribly well and were being honest about it. If that’s the case, then all power to them! The first step on the path to improvement is to recognise that things aren’t optimal.

But I fear that the truth behind the 24% figure is somewhat different… My own twenty years of experience suggests that it rather points to the many B2B marketing departments that have lost their way, their confidence in their ability to matter to the businesses they support shot to pieces by years of criticism or misunderstanding from the Board. B2B marketing departments once co-located with Board members have been moved away. The areas of marketing most associated with outcome like sales have been stripped away. The CMO has been pushed out of key discussions on business strategy and targeting. The marketing team has been limited to event execution or brochure design. Broad marketing terms like “brand” have been limited to encompassing the company logo use. B2B marketing has been moved into a place in the organisation where it can’t do any harm. Because no Board can yet consider getting rid of the marketing department completely. Yet.

And that picture seems to be confirmed by the second statistic that I quoted above. Marketing is not getting the assets it needs because it is no longer a credible force in the Boardroom. It no longer has a voice. And far from being improved by the digital age, the malaise is deepening.

That’s my personal experience and that of those in my B2B marketing network – indeed I have spent my career pushing to get marketing back up where it belongs.

This is the malaise that I want to discuss at the Leaders’ Forum (you can book your place at or for the next few posts on this blog. Do you see the same malaise? What can be done?

Drop me a line here or on Twitter (@DaveStevensNow) or on LinkedIn ( and let me know your marketing role, the size of your company and whether or not you sit on the Board, how frequently you discuss marketing with your CEO, and whether marketing plays an advisory role in your business…

I’ll collate your views and report back.

Categories: b2b marketing marketing social media marketing

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Dave is an experienced global B2B Chief Marketing Officer / Marketing Director with an established reputation for delivering commercial results in start-up, mid-tier, and blue-chip businesses across technology, and business services and professional services sectors.

Dave has worked for major brands such as Telefonica O2, EY, and Barclays and held posts from Chief Marketing Officer to Director of Online, has run his own business, and managed a P&L for a major corporate. He is chair and co-founder of the Business Marketing Club ( - a network of B2B marketers. In 2019, he was named one of the top 100 B2B European marketing leaders ( He is a graduate of Cambridge University, a Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) Chartered Marketer and holds a MBA with Imperial College, London. Dave is a keen cyclist and adventure traveller, is married, and lives in Buckinghamshire. You can read his blogs at

3 replies

  1. Dave, I agree with your interpretation of the stats and I am not surprised at these findings. In many B2B organisations (perhaps the majority?) marketing has become completely divorced from sales, too often not even physically sitting within the business. This has resulted in marketing becoming about ‘what marketing does’ instead of what the business needs. Marketing spends too much time talking to itself instead of to the business or to the marketplace they are seeking to engage. Hence, little or no understanding of that market or their customers, hence marketing activity that has no impact on the business. Marketers need to seriously rethink their role; if marketing is not valued by the business, then marketing needs to do something different. Marketers have become stuck in a rut – the event logistics, the brochure design – and are not asking themselves or the business the right questions. We need to be brave and take some chances; doing things differently often requires doing some things never done before, at least within a particular organisation.


  2. Thanks for the discussion-catalysing presentation yesterday Dave. You obviously decided that controversy was the way forward and of course we fell right in to your trap!
    Did we persuade you that that ARE reasons to be cheerful for marketers?!


    1. Hi Drew, Glad you found the presentation thought-provoking. It is not controversial to say that B2B marketing is not at the heart of most B2B organisations and I offered up a fair amount of evidence yesterday and also in the pages of this blog to back up my point. I hope the discussion-provoking bit is more around what do we do about the state we’re in.
      The discussion yesterday did make me cheerful that there are some great examples of B2B leaders bucking the trend of business remote-ness. And I think my five-point “manifesto” – which I articulated yesterday and which I will add to this blog over the weekend – can make a difference to how marketing is perceived.
      The reason I’ve stayed in the B2B marketing profession for so long is because I do believe that the position we find ourselves in is a difficult one and I’m excited by the challenge of finding a way out! I hope you are up for that challenge too.


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