MediaLink Vice Chairman Wenda Harris Millard announced the introduction of a new board placement service, with the explicit mission being “to put more marketing and digital experts in the boardroom”. Below is an interview conducted with Millard to better understand how this new service will help both boards and marketers.
Whitler: Can you explain a little more about why you believe that marketers belong in the boardroom?
Millard: We are experiencing a period of extraordinary disruption– economic, technological, geopolitical — and every company must stay close to the people who are buying its products and services. The people who live and breathe consumer insight and understanding are those who occupy the marketing space. These professionals often have a more varied background and perspective than many Board directors active today.
Additionally, as you know, research supports this premise. In the research you (Whitler, Krause, and Lehmann) conducted and published by Cambridge-based Marketing Science Institute, the results indicated that a Board with a marketing-experienced director is associated with a 3-percentage point increase in total shareholder return, versus a Board with no marketing experts. The impact was even stronger when a firm is facing declining market share, suggesting that companies in decline can experience even greater performance through the influence of a marketing expert on its Board. And this makes sense because, unlike most board directors, marketers have the unique “outside-in” perspective. Finance, accounting, manufacturing, etc. are all functions that are primarily focused on the internal operations of the firm. Marketing is typically the growth engine of the firm, helping to identify new and incremental sources of growth.
Finally, many companies today need significant transformation to survive. Transformation requires a deep understanding of the consumer, competitors, and the external landscape – marketers have unique knowledge in this space and can be important stewards in thinking through significant transformation.