Purposing marketing for future talent
It's careers fair time of the year – when the up-and-coming talent of the future are encouraged to think about the longer term as they choose their A Level options. I have recently spoken at two schools – one inner London comprehensive with children from, by most people's reckoning, highly disadvantaged backgrounds. The other school was a private girls school, full of the opposite – privileged, ambitious girls who assume they can do what they want for a successful life.
Yet in both schools, there were real similarities in the interest in careers available, and particularly in their lack of interest in Marketing. For intellectual stimulation, they are choosing Law. For sheer money, they are choosing Banking. For intellectual stimulation, and a desire to make a difference, they are choosing Medicine.
And what does Marketing have to offer these future leaders?
The widely held but somewhat narrow view of Marketing, "to sell more stuff, to more people, more often and for more money " (as opposed to creating better value for customers to help drive business and economic growth) can be unappealing to a generation concerned about the pace of consumption on the planet. Yes, they may be very happy to do the consuming themselves, but be part of the machine perceived to be driving the consumption? Not so sure.
Yet as an industry, we need to continue to attract the very best talent we can in order to continue to support the critical function Marketing needs to in driving sustainable - both social and economic - growth. I am passionately excited about the role Marketing can play going forward. For it is marketers that really understand human behaviour, and really understand how to change it. And that is invaluable whether you are an organisation trying to get people to 'buy stuff', or a government trying, for example, to use 'nudge thinking' to shape human behaviour for the greater good. Enabling society to make smart choices is absolutely at the heart of marketing. Great marketers like WK Kellogg and Lord Leverhulme created global businesses, built on a clear sense of purpose, with a absolute desire to help change people's lives for the better – what could be more exciting, or relevant today? Keith Weed in a recent article in Marketing called this out: "Marketers have an incredible opportunity to work alongside consumers to shape positively the lives of generations of consumers to come…to make marketing noble again."
We need to be clear on the purpose of Marketing, and the dynamic role it plays in transforming organisations and society, framing it in a way that is contemporary, connecting and change-focused. By doing this we will not only continue to attract the very best graduate talent into this exciting industry, but also cement our role within society at large.
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