Marketing Breakfast 2017 Key Takeaways – Getting a Seat at the Table

By Posted on : 31 Aug 2017 0 Comments

As part of our Parity Plus value-add offering, we held our annual Marketing breakfast seminar on 22nd August.  Our seminar hosted a panel of industry leaders who spoke about the importance of marketing within a business and how marketing professionals can “get a seat at the table” and be included on advisory or executive leadership teams within the business structure.  The industry panel included:

  • George Chirakis (keynote speaker) – Head of SMSF and Self Directed Wealth at AMP Capital
  • Debbie Jensen – General Manager of Marketing at Challenger
  • Loyce Cox-Paton – Executive Manager, Marketing, Brand, Digital and Communications
  • Graeme Yardy – Head of Marketing for Horticulture Innovation Australia

Victoria Butt, Managing Director of Parity Consulting opened up the morning’s session with some interesting facts.  According to a study by MediaLink, a mere 2.6% of Fortune 1500 companies currently have a marketing professional on the executive team. What seemed to come as a surprise to the attendees, was that out of the 34 companies represented in the room that morning, 7 companies had a marketing professional on their executive teams – equating to 21%. Looking around the room, there seemed to be a few knowing nods of agreement amongst the surprised faces.

George Chirakis, Head of SMSF and Self Directed Wealth at AMP Capital was our keynote speaker of the day. He began his keynote by touching on the three shifts he has seen in his role at AMP Capital that have resulted in giving marketing a more meaningful role in “getting a seat at the table”. They were:

1 Truly championing your customer:

a. Provide the customer with a voice and this will assist in understanding the concerns and challenges they are facing;

b. Marketing should work closely with the appropriate people/teams within the business, especially the sales team, to share and analyse data in order to understand the full aspect of the needs of the customer, for instance related to content needs.

2. Utilising data at every stage of the customer journey within marketing:

a. Understanding and focusing on data across the whole customer journey;

b. Knowing which metrics are the important/key ones to measure specific outcomes;

c. Knowing what activity will deliver the most business value as well as how it can be tested and analysed;

d. It is important that customer research is specific, aligned to business strategy and most importantly actionable.

3. Utilising technology and digital as an enabler:

a. Traditionally, technology budgets have focussed on investment and operational elements but recently there has been an increased focus on enhancing the customer experience;

b. Investing in CRM systems to ensure there is a 360 view of our customer across sales, marketing and customer service.

The keynote was followed by a Q&A session aimed at our panelists:

Q. We asked our expert panel what they thought were the major roadblocks to getting a seat at the table:

Debbie Jensen, General Manager of Marketing for Challenger stated that marketers should have an understanding of the commercial fundamentals of their business and understand how the business operates.

A second point from Debbie was to champion the customer:

  • How do you link customer strategy to business outcomes?
  • How will that investment into improving the experience help the business grow?
  • Bringing new and insightful customer insights to the business that they do not currently have will add value.

Loyce Cox-Paton, who was most recently responsible for a highly successful brand overhaul and digital marketing transformation for NGS Super, was confident in stating that when marketing does have a seat at the table, it really does drive a business. A marketer needs to be a part of the customer experience, and they need to demonstrate how they can bring a great ROI and demonstrate how it would impact the bottom line.

Loyce also highlighted the importance of using data in the right way, and how a better understanding of data can segment and target information and not destroy creativity.

Graeme Yardy, Head of Marketing for Horticulture Innovation Australia, mentioned that for marketers in his industry, he feels a seat at the table is theirs to lose. He reminded us not to get caught up in the bright new shiny things, and to focus on understanding and being able to articulate strategy in a business. With the principle of strategy, the strategy is often timeless and the principles remain the same – be clear to the audience in terms of the message and mobilise your resources.

Graeme also reminded us not to forget that marketers are story tellers – presenting and inspiring people with data is still very important.

George Chirakis spoke about creativity and the balance in marketing – ensuring that you don’t take the creative aspect away in your team is important. Holding optimisation sessions with your team and having them come along to it with their own ideas will assist in keeping the creativity flowing, and assist in them understanding the balance between data and creativity in marketing.

Q. How do you best lead teams through transformations?

Graeme urged us to sell the benefits of the change and reminded us that not everybody makes it through a change in a business. Getting an understanding of what drives each individual in your team and understanding their tensions and fears in order to soften the impact is a great way of addressing a situation such as change. Keeping up constant communication of where things are headed is always important as he felt that as a marketer, communication is often always expected of them so it is understandable that they expect it in return.

Loyce also agreed that communication is key, not just in the marketing team but through the whole organisation. Set a roadmap and strategy to get people on board, and have an open conversation to set expectations for yourself and them as individuals, as well as everyone as a team. Setting a social contract and ensuring each person knows what role they play in the transformation is important – build and maintain resilience within the team to avoid issues down the track.

Debbie spoke on how a transformation can be a stressful time for everybody involved. She advised that you need to go into it realistically, whilst maintaining the understanding that some people will not want to go on the journey. Understanding this early on is key.

Debbie also spoke on how important having adequate budget and resources to set your team up for success is vital, knowing what you can achieve within BAU and where you will need extra support or new skills or resources. It is also important to have the foresight to understand that people may struggle for the first year, and to support the team during that transition, especially if there is new technology and new processes involved. Ensure that your team understands that they don’t have to be fearful about getting it wrong, it’s about being persistent and navigating the complexity or unknowns to get the outcomes you set out to achieve.

Q. The panel was asked: “as a marketer, we often talk about inspiring the customer. Has there been a leader that has inspired you?”

Loyce stated the importance of really believing in yourself – be brave, break some rules but not the law. Ignore the naysayers, trust your gut and prove it with your head. It is important to have fun and finally as part of being a successful person in life and in business – remember to give back.

Loyce also touched on the rules of success as defined by Arnold Schwarzenegger – she liked the fact that he speaks out for what he believes in.

Graeme spoke about an advertising campaign which started in Canada to get kids to start eating better food and how he found the individuals working on this campaign inspiring. It was a universal insight into how to get kids to eat well, and he felt it nailed the brand’s role – he especially loved that the whole campaign was born out of somebody’s personal passion and how they worked out how it fitted into the corporate strategy and then sold to the appropriate audience. Graeme went on to mention that it went on to win major awards, and it all came from the one person.

Q. The last question of the day from the audience was “What metrics or tools do you use to drive your teams?”

George touched on the social contract from earlier, stating that change is almost always difficult, and there will always be people who require a larger degree of certainty than others. Having a roadmap and the importance of entering into a contract at the start of the year, tailoring it to the type of person you are having the conversation with. At the same time, ensure you don’t lock in people who need freedom to be creative.

Debbie spoke about how important it is to make time with the team to discuss and review strategy and execution, including how the team is tracking against KPI’s or success metrics. Keeping an external perspective is also important to ensure what marketing is recommending or implementing within the business is up to date and relevant for the future plans of the organisation.

Loyce believes that everybody brings something different to the table. Utilising a Myers Briggs testing system to understand the strengths in your team is a great way to see the creative and analytical differences within your team and how to use those strengths to the businesses advantage. By using the different strengths in your team to support each other, ensure this creates a cohesive environment for the team.

A special thanks to our expert panel for taking the time to share their insights, knowledge and experience. The morning was a great success with plenty of positive feedback.

For updates on future Parity Plus events, make sure you are following Parity Consulting on LinkedIn where we regularly post updates on industry news as well as competitions and events we run throughout the year.

Parity Marketing and Communications contacts :

Jodi Garratt, Senior Consultant on +61 405 381 550 or

Amanda Glacken, Division Manager +61 450 291 368 or

If you enjoyed our Annual Marketing breakfast seminar, please take the time to leave us a Google review!  Thank you from the team at Parity!