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What is the role of the marketing department anyway?

What is the role of the marketing department anyway?

By Denille Roostee
Marketing Manager at Sanlam

As a marketeer, I have had the opportunity to lead organisations across various industries in both large and small organizations and worked together with diverse groups of individuals within the marketing department. During this time I have come to the realization that role of marketing is differently defined for almost each individual.

I have observed over the years a disconnect between expectations and perceptions of the Executive Leadership and the marketing department. ‘Marketing is too important to be left to the marketing department’ David Packard, co-founder of Hewlett-Packard once said and it shows the disconnect clearly.

The challenges depend on several factors, for example; how quickly an organization embraces online communication, reacts to the current economic situation, what life stage the company is in, how pro-active a corporation is and the experience and background of the individuals who make up the organization. These all impact and play a vital role in how the organization defines the role of the marketing department.

This challenge often leaves the marketing department accused of disappointing and poor performance. With a further accusation being that they do not affect sales directly and just squander budgets. There is truth to this sadly in some cases, as with any department in any organization. Some are guilty of not necessarily, overspending, but more commonly ineffectively spending their budgets. In my experience, more often than not, however, it is rather a case of objectives and targets not being clearly established and communicated beforehand and kept track of throughout the implementation of the marketing strategy.

Verhoef and Leeflang piloted a widespread study termed ‘Understanding the Marketing Department’s Influence within the Firm’ in an attempt to determine the influence of the marketing department within organisations. What its determinants and significance are as well as how this influence is related to market orientation and, indirectly, to a firm’s performance. This study shows marketing is placed mainly in a tactical, executive role. In the past decade both the average age and superiority of marketing staff has decreased and the number of part-timers in marketing positions has increased. The outcome of this study shows that marketing has lost, as they say, 2-Ps to the finance function: pricing policy and distribution policy.

So, what are the consequences of the loss of a marketing departments influence on the organisation? In specialized services organizations in particular, professionals take care of part of their own marketing and sales. This often the case in; engineering companies, law firms and some financial institutions. Consequently, more marketing activities take place outside the conventional marketing department. Another aspect is the customer-connecting capacity of the marketing department and lack of understanding when it comes to the customer journey. If you are a marketeer, periodically ask yourself the question: “when last did I converse directly with my company’s target market?” On many fronts, other departments control the direct customer contacts. A reduced customer connection affects the influence of marketing within the organization, which is not just a shame but negatively impacts the organisation.

So, what can we take away from this? There is no single answer, no wand to wave that will fix everything. However, to overcome this challenge and prevent the marketing department from losing its impact and relevance, it is crucial to stay close their stakeholders both internal and external. Firstly, all marketing efforts must add relevant value to the customer experience. Secondly, marketing objectives must be integrated and in line with the organizations overall objectives.

In closing, Marketing’s internal stakeholders are a very critical function in the company. Every individual of the organizational leadership team is an adjunct of the marketing department.


About The Author

Guest Contributor

A Guest Contributor is any of a number of experts who contribute articles and columns under their own respective names. They are regarded as authorities in their disciplines, and their work is usually published with limited editing only. They may also contribute to other publications. - Ed.

Following reverse listing, public can now acquire shareholding in Paratus Namibia


20 February 2020, Windhoek, Namibia: Paratus Namibia Holdings (PNH) was founded as Nimbus Infrastructure Limited (“Nimbus”), Namibia’s first Capital Pool Company listed on the Namibian Stock Exchange (“NSX”).

Although targeting an initial capital raising of N$300 million, Nimbus nonetheless managed to secure funding to the value of N$98 million through its CPC listing. With a mandate to invest in ICT infrastructure in sub-Sahara Africa, it concluded management agreements with financial partner Cirrus and technology partner, Paratus Telecommunications (Pty) Ltd (“Paratus Namibia”).

Paratus Namibia Managing Director, Andrew Hall

Its first investment was placed in Paratus Namibia, a fully licensed communications operator in Namibia under regulation of the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN). Nimbus has since been able to increase its capital asset base to close to N$500 million over the past two years.

In order to streamline further investment and to avoid duplicating potential ICT projects in the market between Nimbus and Paratus Namibia, it was decided to consolidate the operations.

Publishing various circulars to shareholders, Nimbus took up a 100% shareholding stake in Paratus Namibia in 2019 and proceeded to apply to have its name changed to Paratus Namibia Holdings with a consolidated board structure to ensure streamlined operations between the capital holdings and the operational arm of the business.

This transaction was approved by the Competitions Commission as well as CRAN, following all the relevant regulatory approvals as well as the necessary requirements in terms of corporate governance structures.

Paratus Namibia has evolved as a fully comprehensive communications operator in Namibia and operates as the head office of the Paratus Group in Africa. Paratus has established a pan-African footprint with operations in six African countries, being: Angola, Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zambia.

The group has achieved many successes over the years of which more recently includes the building of the Trans-Kalahari Fibre (TKF) project, which connects from the West Africa Cable System (WACS) eastward through Namibia to Botswana and onward to Johannesburg. The TKF also extends northward through Zambia to connect to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, which made Paratus the first operator to connect the west and east coast of Africa under one Autonomous System Number (ASN).

This means that Paratus is now “exporting” internet capacity to landlocked countries such as Zambia, Botswana, the DRC with more countries to be targeted, and through its extensive African network, Paratus is well-positioned to expand the network even further into emerging ICT territories.

PNH as a fully-listed entity on the NSX, is therefore now the 100% shareholder of Paratus Namibia thereby becoming a public company. PNH is ready to invest in the future of the ICT environment in Namibia. The public is therefore invited and welcome to acquire shares in Paratus Namibia Holdings by speaking to a local stockbroker registered with the NSX. The future is bright, and the opportunities are endless.