Marketing professionals may rightly dream of a seat at the executive table, but it is an elusive dream. CMO’s can expect to hold their post between 18 and 23 months, after all.
I am lately enamored of David Maister’s simple framework for professional services firm. This well-known author and consultant reminds us that our firms are made up of finders, minders, and grinders. Those who find the work that feeds the rest sit at the table periodically and strategize. Finders are responsible for profit and loss, while marketing directors and marketing managers are not. Call us hired guns, call us support staff, but essentially we play second fiddle to top management in strategy and communications. This is a delicate subject to bring up because there are whole industries and conferences devoted to keeping senior managers afire with the hope that we will one day get a seat at the table. A senior manager in marketing may have a lot of responsibility but never be on the hook for a line of business. Therefore, perhaps becoming a wise, sage, and trusted advisor is a more realistic aim than a spot in the inner sanctum.