|Academics report that marketers are losing their influence in the boardroom due in part to serious challenges to marketing’s credibility. Although the credibility of marketing sources has received much attention since the early 1950s, research into how individuals in business organisations construct the credibility of marketers is scarce. This study, using in-depth interviews, describes how seven senior managers from different New Zealand businesses construct the credibility of marketers. For these senior managers, the credibility of marketers is grounded in their performance in delivering commercial outcomes. The findings also suggest that senior managers construct credibility in terms of a work aspect and a social aspect of a marketer’s performance, and that both these aspects have to be present if the marketer is to be considered credible.
The work aspect of performance is made up of a marketer’s Pedigree, Projects, and Pervasive Influence. The Pedigree of a marketer includes their qualifications, skills and background. A degree is usually the minimum qualification required, particularly for more senior marketing roles. Skills expected from marketers include leadership, management, sales and intuition. With regard to background, the marketer needs to demonstrate they have achieved commercial outcomes in previous employment to be considered credible.
Projects describes how marketers must design and implement cogent marketing plans, work effectively without supervision, achieve commercial outcomes in a clever or creative way, and provide evidence that their projects have contributed to commercial outcomes. Pervasive Influence describes how marketers influence others in the organisation toward customer-centricity. Marketers can lose credibility in the work aspect of their performance when they have no structured purpose to their marketing research, are unable to execute marketing plans or are unable to demonstrate the results of a marketing project.
The social aspect of a marketer’s performance is made up of Personal Integrity and Professional Conduct. Personal Integrity describes marketers who are respected, take pride in their work, strive to improve themselves and are not precious. Professional Conduct describes a marketer who relates and collaborates competently and professionally with others, and is a team fit. Marketers lose credibility in the social aspect of their performance when they are precious, flighty, argumentative, and only out for themselves.
This paper contributes a framework that describes the construction of a marketer’s credibility from a senior manager’s perspective. It also introduces a new understanding of credibility, grounded in performance terms, which is distinct from past conceptualisations of credibility found in the literature, which is based on expertise and trustworthiness. These findings demonstrate that while a marketer might be considered an expert and trustworthy, if they are not delivering commercial outcomes then they may not be considered credible, from a senior manager’s perspective.