Almost half of brands view marketing as a cost rather than an investment

Marketers believe they are having a greater impact on business, but still feel held back by the age-old perception marketing is a cost rather than an investment.

Despite being an essential path to growth for businesses operating in a difficult economic environment, marketers feel the profession is still viewed as a cost rather than an investment.

Almost half of marketers (46.5%) agree that while marketing is somewhat understood by their company, it is seen as a cost first and foremost, according to Marketing Week’s exclusive 2024 Career & Salary Survey of over 3,000 marketers.

This figure is considerably higher than the 32% of marketers who feel marketing is seen as an investment and is completely understood by the company. Meanwhile, a dispirited 15.2% of respondents don’t believe marketing is understood by their business at all.

The data points to a continuation of the age-old battle between marketing and business leadership as to just how important the function is to the overall strategic direction of the company.

Just half of marketers are happy at work, survey revealsIt’s a pattern, too, that persists irrespective of the size of the business. For SMEs (businesses with less than 250 employees), 43.9% of respondents believe marketing is seen as a cost. By comparison, 35% believe the function is seen as an investment and at the heart of the company.

Larger businesses, however, fare worse. Some 49.6% of marketers working in corporate settings believe marketing is seen as a cost to the business, with a much reduced 29.5% who believe it is seen as an investment.

The data shows 49.5% of B2B marketers feel their work is seen as a cost to the business, with just a quarter (27.4%) believing it is regarded as an investment. A worryingly high 17.1% of this B2B sample don’t believe marketing is understood by the business at all.

Marketing Week has reported extensively on the brand building revolution taking place in B2B marketing over the last decade, but the Career & Salary Survey data suggests work is still needed to change perceptions around the value of marketing.

Meanwhile, those working in B2C businesses or a mixture of B2B and B2C, are more likely to have a more positive outlook on their standing in the business. Nearly two-fifths (38.2%) of B2C marketers consider marketing to be completely understood by the company as an investment, a figure that falls slightly to 32.3% for those working in a mixture of B2B and B2C.

According to the data, 44.4% of B2C marketers believe marketing is viewed as a cost, rising to 45.2% for B2B and B2C marketers. Just 12.9% of B2C marketers say marketing is not completely understood by the business.

Marketing’s strategic importance ramps up as influence growsGiven marketing is a core asset in helping to guide businesses through the difficult economic environment it is perhaps no surprise that nearly two-thirds of marketers (65.1%) believe the work they are doing is having a greater impact on the organisation than before.

However, this increased importance isn’t converting into job security, with less than two-fifths of marketers (39.8%) feeling more secure in their job than they did a year ago.

Under and over

Interestingly, the Career & Salary Survey respondents identified marketing strategy as the most underrated skill in the profession.

More than half (53.7%) of the 3,000 marketers surveyed say marketing strategy is the skill most undervalued by businesses, a clear sign of the frustration marketers feel about the lack of understanding and appreciation of the core fundamentals of the role. This was closely followed by brand management (46.1%) and data analysis (32.7%).

Meanwhile, the most overrated skills identified by marketers included social media (22.5%), digital marketing (15.7%) and performance marketing (12.9%).

It’s far to say that while marketing’s influence within companies is growing, there is a disconnect between what marketers believe is the strength of the profession and what their employers believe is the value of marketing.

Marketing Week has published a series of exclusive news and features based on the findings of the 2024 Career & Salary Survey. Click here to view everything we’ve published so far.