Almost 90 Marketors and their guests attended the Annual City Lecture this year, held at the tallest building in the European Union – the Shard. The Annual City Lecture this year took place in this appropriate setting and ambiance, where we learnt from our distinguished guest speaker Sir Ian Cheshire [Pictured with Freeman Karen Jones, Events Director] on the Purpose of Business and the Role of Marketing. Sir Ian is currently Chairman of Debenhams and was formerly Group Chief Executive of Kingfisher plc. Key takeaways from Sir Ian’s lecture included:

  1. Businesses must have a strong sense of purpose for customers:
    • Every day we are all busy with clients, shops and products. Even though most people desire to do a good job and make positive contributions to the organization and business, it takes leadership to define what good looks like. Sir Ian shared examples at B&Q and how these initiatives were aligned with B&Q’s business purpose to “help customers live better lives through having a better home”. In order to connect and establish emotional relationship with customers and employees, businesses need to have a purposeful brand. Customers will come back if they trust that you will deliver the purpose that your brand promises.
  2. Emergence of mobile media changes brand communications:
    • It is now impossible to be inauthentic with your brand, though on the positive side, interactions and discovery process work both ways between companies and consumers now with social media, and brands are able to engage personally with customers en mass with digital marketing and there are opportunities to use data to test and measure almost everything online.
  3. The Role of Marketing:
    • Marketing is in a unique position – we understand both the customer and the company purpose, so we need to push for innovation as agents for change.
    • Marketing is now about the use of data to run businesses, no longer relying on creatives championed by advertising agencies.
    • Finally, businesses must build trust through authentic marketing – the price is high for those who risk it.

Annual Lecture

The lecture was followed by an interactive Q&A session where Marketors and guests posed questions to Sir Ian. Topics ranged widely from how “digital” is being applied to government, how boards can align purpose with third party service providers, and how retailers can survive disruptions by low cost distributors and large e-commerce players. Sir Ian generously shared his vast experience on these topics and answered them authentically. The evening ended with networking and refreshments.