Marketing Week Leadership Summit: 3 key themes



28th November 2023

~ 4 min read

Last week, Croud partnered with Marketing Week on their bi-annual Leadership Summit, which brought together over 40 senior marketers from a selection of leading brands.

The event included three fantastic talks, delivered by representatives from Debate Mate, Boots CMO Pete Markey, and former First Lieutenant and leadership consultant John Peters. There was also a series of roundtables, allowing participants to deep dive into some of the most pressing challenges facing CMOs today. Here we sum up three of the key themes from the roundtables.

1. Doing more with less

The first roundtable, hosted by Marketing Week Editor-in-Chief Russell Parsons, was all about business growth, unpicking the mantra of doing ‘more with less’ and what it means in practice for marketers. All participants agreed they’re feeling the pressure of this to some extent this year, with marketing budgets sadly often still seen as non-essential spend that can easily be cut in tough times.

So, how can marketers do ‘more with less’ in practice? Focus was a key theme - it’s vital for marketing leaders to be able to say no to ideas that either don’t make sense, or won’t be supported by enough budget to actually make an impact. Media minimum spends are a vital concept in this regard.

Artificial intelligence was also discussed as a potential way of saving time and driving efficiency. Plus several roundtable participants shared that they’re reviewing their agency set-up, and considering alternative models such as leveraging more freelance support.

Some participants had got ahead of the question, ensuring they had built strong cases for all the work they are doing. There was a lot of talk of measuring incrementality, and having the correct data in place to be able to prove the impact of the work. Whilst having the measurement frameworks and studies in place can’t guarantee investment, it stands marketers in good stead.

Not sure where to start with incrementality? You might like this wrap-up of our recent measurement event with Google, or check out Croud’s Director of Data Strategy, Kevin Joyner, speaking at Google’s Measurement Labs Summit, where he details some key questions that different types of incrementality experiments can answer.

2. Getting the CFO on side

The second roundtable, moderated by Marketing Week’s Managing Editor Lucy Tesseras, centred on brand growth and how to increase brand investment. A key challenge here is effectively communicating the benefit and value of brand investment to the wider business, and getting the finance department in particular on side to secure said investment.

Incrementality again plays a key role here, and there was extensive technical discussion around how brand could be measured to show the impact it has on long-term business growth. However, there was also the acknowledgement that sometimes businesses do need to take risks as there won’t be historic data for everything - in these cases, all decisions should still be grounded in insight.

Getting senior stakeholders - and in particular the CFO - on board, ultimately comes down to speaking their language, according to the roundtable participants. B2B brands in particular highlighted the difficulty of getting buy-in for brand investment, especially in sales-led organisations, with attendees sharing their advice on adapting the language, and focusing on commercial rather than brand.

Ultimately, it’s all about having the right audience in mind. The people who are signing off on marketing budgets might not necessarily know the ins and outs of marketing, as they are focused on driving business growth - so always try and speak in their terms.

3. Promoting a healthier work-life balance

The final roundtable of the day, moderated by Richard Robinson, Managing Director at Oystercatchers, was all about self growth, with a particular focus on reducing burnout, and steps that CMOs can take to promote a healthier work-life balance across marketing teams.

Participants recognised the shift in working culture that has taken place over the last 10 years or more, with some powerful examples of burnout shared, and everyone agreeing on the imperative for workplaces to enable employees to recognise the symptoms of burnout in themselves and in their colleagues.

So, what advice did senior marketers have for disengaging from work, and achieving a better work-life balance? Exercise was inevitably discussed in detail, including tips on how to make sure it always happens, and how it can help clear the mind - particularly all-out efforts that completely distract from everything else! Optimising sleep patterns was another key discussion point.

Finally, participants discussed the vital importance of carving out time to understand new concepts, with AI being a particular focus currently, and an area where people need to make time in their days to get under the skin of it all. Our AI cheat sheets could be a great place to start!


All in all, Marketing Week’s Leadership Summit was a fantastic opportunity to come together with some of the UK’s leading marketers and discuss the challenges and opportunities on their minds right now. Thanks to Marketing Week and all involved for a great event!

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