The game changer: how to fire up your marketing head

If you have your marketing head in place, you’re already aware of the different energy they add to the leadership mix. 

While the function is increasingly vital to organisational success, I am sympathetic to the challenges the role may pose to a school Head. As a Marketing Search and Talent specialist with more years’ experience than I sometimes care to admit, my intention here is to provide a guide that broadly characterises today’s marketeers and within that context, advises how school Heads can get the best out of these brilliantly innovative, creative and involved professionals.

Set the scene

Education is one of the fastest growing sectors in Australia. The investment and therefore the expectations people have of you as service providers continues to rise.

Today, the best service providers are focused on something called ‘intangible capital’. Intangible capital captures three key elements including:

  • The overall strategy for the business
  • The brand and marketing strategy for the business
  • People.


If we can agree that being on top of intangible capital produces great outcomes, then thinking about how you motivate and develop the person heading up your brand strategy is key.

Understand the type

As a product of the role and as a function of their nature, marketeers are remarkably resourceful individuals. In my experience, they’re not precious but will hold exacting standards; they’re unafraid to roll up their sleeves in the name of innovation and they’re capable of switching between a wide variety of tasks. They think outside the box and, for better or worse, they’re inherently non-hierarchical.

They think differently which, in the interests of thought diversification and institutional value, is one of the reasons I’m a major proponent of their seat at the table. They challenge the status quo and it’s fair to say that their drive to constantly move the dial on the brand can be challenging. This is a good thing. They’re not going to stand still because the customer is not standing still. The customer is forever evolving, and this is what fires their furnaces. Like a prey after its quarry, this is the chase they were born to give. Strategically, operationally and functionally speaking, you don’t want them to stand still!

Unleash the best

  1. They need to understand the overall strategic direction of the school. The biggest issue I see in the independent school network is too often the school Head is doing this with only one other person, the Finance Director. If your Marketing Head is not involved in shaping that strategy, get them involved ASAP.
  2. They need your time. They need time to talk strategically and to provide updates on what they’re executing. Considering the multi-dimensional nature of the role, they possibly need more of your time than anyone else.
  3. Demonstrating return on investment for marketeers can be tricky so they need a framework. While understanding the school’s strategy is fundamental, on a campaign basis they need your collaborative input to create this framework.
  4. Marketing professionals flourish with structured support and it’s important they continue to get outside of sector influence. The best way to achieve this is through mentoring. If you don’t know where to start, organisations such as The Marketing Academy or the Australian Marketing Institute can guide you. They also offer a fantastic variety of professional development seminars, courses and accreditations.

I hope what I’ve outlined here gives you some insight on how to charge-up the relationship you have with what I believe is fast becoming one of the most important direct reports for any school Head intent on meeting customer demands in one of the fastest growing sectors in Australia. 

Simon Meyer is an Executive Director of a new Australian people strategy business, Compono, using his 20 years of global experience to connect outstanding talent with businesses. He previously founded and was CEO of FutureYou Recruitment, Search & Advisory.

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