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Why visionary companies have a marketing chief advisor on its board of advisors

Unknown to many entrepreneurs and business owners, visionary companies keep an advisory board without fiduciary duty but whose primary function is to render counsel on the different operational functionalities that can make or break the company’s growth.

Most advisory boards have strategic and expert advisors on finance, marketing, technology, human resources and organization development, and depending on the nature of the business, can be complemented by production and logistics, retail management, health care, etc.

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The board of advisors often meets once a month or as necessary mainly to counsel the board owners on the nature and impact of proposed key activities that impact long-term brand strategy and will require owners’ approval and use of capital. Often too, the board of advisors ably helps the chair of the board and board members to objectively understand and assess the proposed activities and projects of operational heads and the appointed president and CEO and/or chief operating officer.

In many cases, the composition of meetings with the board of advisors are kept to a bare minimum with presentations made by the CEO, COO or president rather than functional managers doing the presentation.

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How does a marketing chief advisor add value to the organization as board of advisor?

Ask the right questions. An objective marketing board advisor with a deep bench of knowledge and experience is likely to ask the right questions that impact current activities and long-term brand strategy, thus ensuring the life of the brand through time and future generations. These questions most often stimulate the minds of the board members, whether they are the founder or come from the second, third or fourth generations. A professional board advisor does his or her homework long before the appointed meeting, thus relevant questions, contrarian or not, are raised and are often helpful in assessing proposals and impact on brand strategy and life of the brand.

Help bridge generational gap among board members. A competent board advisor should have victorious brand accomplishments and rely on these insightful experiences. However, competent board advisors are visionary by themselves, constantly retooling their personal knowhow. Thus, they bring historical experience on the table, matching the personal experience of older board members while offering fresh insights and new ways of doing things that match the younger generations’ exposure. Arrogance is not in the vocabulary of professional and competent marketing board advisors as the field of marketing and branding is influenced by flighty trends and an erratic macro environment, where insightfulness triggered by experience and academic exposure, and resolutions engineered by a competent board advisor come in handy.

Independent advise counters conflict of interest.

A board advisor is an external advisor and not operationally involved. However, having an independent board advisor who is strategic, competent and with more than suitable operation skills set can help enable the board to see through tricky situations, especially those outside of their personal experience. Having people with conflict of interests acting as board advisor may not be ideal as objectivity may be sorely compromised.

Stages of growth and maturity provide perfect timing for having a marketing board advisor.

In the early stages of the business, the founder adeptly makes all the decision. As business grows through time, a startup way of doing business becomes unsuitable and more formal structures need to be in place. Having a board of advisor at this time makes it more bearable as the founder moves through a learning journey while not compromising the company’s growth. The founder with the help of the board of advisors becomes more confident delegating and sharing collective processing and decision-making with the management and operations group.

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The company can face a blank wall in its long journey, the maturity stage. This is when a deeply knowledgeable board of advisor on marketing with a grasp of future trends can be helpful.

Having a board of advisors is doing systematic corporate governance as board members are guided in their strategy, vision and values, among others. —contributed

The author is chief brand strategist of MKS Marketing Consulting and is an alumna of Oxford University’s SAID Graduate School of Business Strategic Leadership and Strategic Marketing Executive Education Program and Stanford Graduate School of Business Strategic Marketing Executive Education. Feedback at [email protected]

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