Richard Eagleton, director of marketing consultancy, Brand Xtra, on (believe it or not) marketing!
A large UK insurance company wanted to replace the person who'd looked after their adverts and communications for many years. They didn't for one moment consider recruiting anyone from outside the company. They looked for someone with the experience to deal with the demands of the job. Somebody who could handle the pressure of creative advertising. Someone who wasn't just a grey numbers man. So they chose the guy who'd been running the stationery department for the past 15 years.

That story dates from the 1950s. Surely things have changed since then? Of course they have in many companies, but I can't help thinking that there are a few corners of the housebuilding industry where the very idea that marketing has a serious role to play is still laughed at. This is the dark world of the "leaflet lady"; a world where the metaphorical stationery department is still raided for a suitable person to deal with the fluffy side of things.

And yet, marketing has plenty to offer housebuilders. Now, I'm not about to enter the debate on whether or not it's possible to build a housebuilder brand, but it does seem to me that it is time for some proper marketing to make an entrance.

i accept that marketers can be their own worst enemies

I accept that marketers can be their own worst enemies at times, often devaluing the skills they bring, and doing little to show how they deserve a seat at the table as part of product development and business strategy. But getting the adverts out on time simply isn't enough anymore.

The Marketing Society describes marketing as "a management process that should be the focal point for a company's total activity". Well they would, wouldn't they! But how many marketers have equal status with their colleagues in land, design, sales, production and finance? Of course, providing great new homes to willing customers requires the united efforts of the whole team, but it's the marketing expert who can help to see the future, ensuring that the product retains a competitive edge, appeals to the target customer, and is promoted in the most cost-effective manner. It's also the marketer who should devote time to maximising profit and customer satisfaction for the company – not on the plots on sale today (that's for the sales team to do), but on the hundreds coming onstream in the future.