What’s Wrong With This Picture?


Forrester Research asked ~100 marketers which skills were most important to the success of a marketing executive, and how critical those skills are relative to five years ago.

So what’s wrong with this picture? The marketers got it completely wrong. The order should have been reversed.

Marketers earn the right to be “strategic” by the efficient and effective delivery of the processes they manage, and by demonstrating an ability to tie the results of their processes to the financial performance of their firm.

All too often, the word strategy is thrown around too casually. I bet the marketers surveyed by Forrester used the term “strategic thinking” to mean “large scale, disruptive, competitive-advantage gaining” thinking.

But often, strategy simply means “fix a problem” — which requires more creativity and process/financial management than it does pie-in-the-sky rumination.

Get your skill priorities straight, marketers.

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7 thoughts on “What’s Wrong With This Picture?

  1. Ron,

    Who took the meat out of YOUR sandwich? (I’ve been dying to use that phrase).

    I’ve reread this post three times and I still don’t get your point. It feels chicken and egg to me. Strategic is creating or fixing? Which comes first? What should the marketer’s role be in your opinion?

  2. I get Ron’s point. It’s impossible to be strategic if you don’t have basic knowledge and expertise under your belt. If a marketer has honed his/her skills, implemented campaigns, spent some time in the real world working, thinking and talking to other marketers, then they’ll have the ability to think strategically.

    But a marketer who, for example, hasn’t developed ‘business acumen’, will NEVER be the one who develops strategy.

    You can’t force or teach strategic thinking. In my opinion, it only comes through experience.

  3. Suzanne,

    I get what you’re saying and I visualize an organizational chart with an entry level position that gains experience before becoming a VP…but weren’t these experienced marketers that were polled? If so, then strategy makes sense being at the top of the list.

    I totally agree with you that you can’t force (or teach) strategic thinking.

  4. Strategic thinking has become an internal buzz word in companies, to highlight people who can help to differentiate the firm. So it is valued, and therefore jumps to the top. But Ron is right, in that being strategic by definition, always comes down to option selection, and that cannot happen without some real tangible ideas, which is what the lower rated attributes bring.

    Maybe instead of Strategic Thinking, it should be a behaviour characteristics such as ‘connecting the dots’ or ‘clear thinking’ ability.

  5. Are you certain this isn’t a graph measuring the importance of buzz words?

    I only say that because I agree with your point. To separate creativity from strategic thinking is like separating wet from water.

  6. Suzanne: Thanks for clarifying my point. And sorry to everyone for not being more clear in the first point.

    There are few CMOs out there who should be more worried about building “strategic thinking” skills in his/her marketing team than in building process management, business acumen, financial management, and relationship skills. Let alone creativity.

    The more I look at this graph, the more I think the respondents were telling Forrester what they think Forrester wanted to hear.

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