Brand Learning gives The Marketing Academy some Customer-Centred Learning

The Marketing Academy is a non-profit and voluntary organisation, developing leadership capability in talented marketers from the Marketing, Advertising and Communications industries. Brand Learning has partnered The Marketing Academy since 2010: sharing our expertise in marketing excellence and leadership development through one-on-one mentoring, lectures and hosting an annual Faculty Day. On Tuesday 22nd July we hosted our 5th annual Faculty Day and met with this year’s scholars for a jam-packed day discussing the role of marketing within an organisation, 4S Marketing and being the best leaders we can possibly be. In this blog, Steven Woodgate, Social Media Manager at Microsoft shares his key learnings from the day.

Remember “High quality is always possible, but is constantly under threat” and if any of us – the 2014 Marketing Academy cohort – was to take out something from our day with Brand Learning, it would be just that.

Maintaining constant high performance is an ever-changing world is one of the – if not, the biggest – challenges faced by organisations that used to ‘rule the roost’. Brand Learning’s Hayley Spurling and Nina Holdaway took us on a journey: from explaining what leadership and marketing meant to us, through to smartly designed theory and how it can be a hit in the marketplace.

Obviously, the word “leadership” is subjective and means different things to different people, but when you get 25 marketers in a room, the verbs keep on coming.

For leadership, to most of us, consists of: being able to empower, enable, influencer, inspire, and to nurture. But if that’s not enough, a leader needs to be patient (a skill I’m yet to master), purposeful, consistent, motivating, and communicative.

Above all though, a leader must be a visionary and a detailed storyteller.

Easy, eh?

To take this leadership understanding and apply it to the breadth of marketing is no mean feat. To establish how we can make an immediate impact, establishing the role of marketing was forever needed. A term that appealed to be me was “Growth Engine”. Marketing should (and will) be at the forefront of an organisation’s growth and strategic development in an ever-evolving digital world. It’s no longer good enough to win in your category any more, as Hayley and Nina took us through plenty of case studies, a common theme kept popping up: the challenges to change and to adapt.

Some say ‘culture eats strategy for breakfast’, and they would be right. It is up to the role of marketing to enable and establish this culture from the off and be that voice of change and culture shift. The role of marketing, therefore, should consist of: to drive sustainable customer-centred growth, by creating OUTSTANDING customer experience and creating better value for customers.

As Satya Nadella says at my place, Microsoft: “we need to be customer obsessed”. You can certainly see why.

How can you make this practical and tangible to take back to your organisation though? Hayley and Nina provided us each with an iPad (boo!) and a BuzzFeed-type quiz to establish what type of marketer are you?

Out of the choice of four Ss: scientists, strategists, storybuilders and socialisers, it was decided I was a ‘storybuilder’, a few were surprised considering my role as a Social Media Manager. But, as I responded, I used to be a journalist and social media is not the end all of being social, social is a place to tell the best stories and get immediate feedback on them. It was a useful exercise, especially as this year’s cohort appears to be a bit ‘scientist’ and ‘socialiser’ shy (although I would suggest otherwise following the previous night out).


With this as our basic knowledge, we went through how to become a ‘Customer-Centred Leader’ and this was music to the ears. It centralised around insights, with big inputs from your purpose, your partnerships and, more surprisingly, your performance. It’s being in the place to enable others to do more.

Marketing may be a combination of art and science, but its foundations are set in culture and how to use that to reach your organisation’s growth goals and how to recognise any capability gaps (Brand Learning Wheel). Finding the business objectives and strategies may be the easy part, but ensuring the processes, skills, organisation structure and the people are in place may actually be the biggest (positive) challenge of any leader.

Thanks for having us.


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For more information about how Brand Learning can help you lift your organisation’s marketing capabilities, please get in touch. You may also like these films, perspectives and resources on Marketing Capability.

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