The role of a marketing leader in food and beverage brands is far broader than in other industries. They are seen as the centre pin to a successful organisation, taking responsibility of the brand, product development, internal communications, sales, innovation, pricing strategy and often business direction, hence senior marketers are very much seen as an important voice around a boardroom table.
However, in a traditionally operator focused sector, the worth of marketing in the hospitality business is undoubtedly a grey area. A recent survey I conducted which included restaurant marketing professionals saw 61% citing a lack of operations team buy-in being a key challenge, while 44% said they lacked buy-in from their leaders. The only greater challenge was budget.
Broader business leaders need to recognise the value that marketing brings to businesses, while marketers need to concentrate on building a better rapport with the operators. In the words of a speaker “collaborative working is key to successful marketing, it is not just the responsibility of the marketing team, but everyone at every level should buy-in, engagement starts within”.
In the Middle East the lack of food and beverage focused marketing teams is pronounced, with the sector so linked to the hotel industry, the default position for many is to have the hotel marketing director look after promoting food and beverage too. Having worked in both sectors extensively, I can assure you they are chalk and cheese, with two very different skill sets. The hotel sector is mostly very corporate, focused on transactions often driven by digital and partnership arrangements, whereas the restaurant sector is traditionally much more creative, focused on creating brands and experiences.
Restaurant marketers do however need a clear commercial understanding – personally, this is the gap that I believe needs to be worked on in 2018. It is vital to understand your P&L, sales flows, margins and costs, to ensure you are making decisions that will move the needle, not just drive awareness. To be taken seriously as a marketer, you must be able to hold your own with financiers and operators, do this by not only voicing your own opinion but the brand and customer viewpoint. Remember, winning brands are not made by financiers, they are created by people with a vision, an understanding of customers and a good hand on the marketplace.
Hotel & Catering News Middle East 1 Mar 2018