How to get a spot on the board and how to deliver once you get there

Getting a place on the board is a dream opportunity for many marketers. But how do you get that coveted seat at the table and how do you ensure you deliver once you get there? This was the subject of a panel discussion at the Festival of Marketing hosted by Marketing Week’s Russell Parsons. So what tips did the panel have for their fellow marketers?

1. Make a new best friend

If you want to get a spot on the board, it’s not enough to excel in your own role. Sherilyn Shackell, Founder and CEO of the Marketing Academy, made the point that you need to understand the other functions of the business, their priorities and what keeps them awake at night. Challenge yourself to make a new best friend – and make a beeline for the CFO. If you can speak their language, you’ll be able to speak the language of the board.

2. Save the ads for your mum

Everyone knows the age-old stereotype of marketing as ‘The Colouring-In Department’. And it’s important not to play into that caricature says Direct Line Group’s Mark Evans. The worst way you can do this is to take your latest advert to the board. Commerciality, not creativity, counts in the boardroom. This was echoed by David Kassler. Too many marketers focus on inputs – budget, external agencies, team size – he says. The most effective marketing professionals – and those that will get to the boardroom – are those that are concentrate on outputs – driving conversions and results at every stage of the customer journey to prove real ROI.

3. Harness data, but don’t drown in It

So, how do you show ROI? The answer, of course, lies in your data. But data can be addictive says Direct Line Group’s Mark Evans. And it’s important not to get the board hooked on the wrong stuff. Be selective. Make sure the metrics you bring into the boardroom make sense in the context of the bottom line. One tip for picking the right metrics comes from David Kassler. Make sure you know what you’ll do differently as a result of reviewing the data. If you don’t know the answer to this question, collecting the data is a pointless exercise.

The panel concluded on a hopeful note. There is no better time for marketers to make their mark and reach the most senior levels of an organisation. Perceptions of marketers are changing. Rather than being viewed as a cost centre, the power of marketers as growth-drivers is finally being realised. The time to act is now.