How do your co-workers see you?
Not the ones who, like you, know their PPC from their CLV, can find their way around a perceptual map, and have seen a thing or two in the mean streets of Marketing.
No, I mean the ones who think positioning is what you do in yoga class, that branding is for cattle, and that targeting a segment means snatching the last piece of Chocolate Orange.
Do they see your value? Does Fiona in Finance look down on you, not just for your inferior Excel skills, but as the representative of a questionably necessary, discretionary cost centre? Does Sally in Sales blame every failure on the quality of your leads and seize all the credit for every success? Does Leo in Legal think of you and your department as nothing but a GDPR timebomb, a catastrophe-in-waiting? Are you an afterthought to Prakash in Product, an inconvenience to Enrico in Engineering?
Why don’t marketers do a better job marketing Marketing?
All too often, organisations forget the value of Marketing. Marketers, the people who craft and communicate value propositions to customers, fail to do the same for their colleagues. I see this all the time when I deliver Exactimo’s Digital Marketing Bootcamps for business school students. Attendees from different business functions are sceptical at first but after a little listening, they are surprised by how much Marketing can do for them.
Despite all the evidence that it is a bad idea, Marketing budgets are one of the first to get cut in a downturn. Ads are cheaper now. Your frightened competitors are frantically cutting. With a little courage, you can cheaply increase your share of voice as theirs recede. The long-term benefits are enviable. We marketers have known this for almost 100 years. Yet this simple case for getting and keeping customers more efficiently than ever does not always seem to cut through.
Marketing for five key personas
It’s a thorny problem, but one that calls for a familiar approach. Let’s think about how we want to be seen in the minds of our colleagues. Let’s try to see ourselves from their perspective.
1. Fiona in Finance
Fiona’s world is one of EBITDA, debt-to-equity ratios and cash flow. Her KPIs are written in a language you might not even understand. This is where the problem starts. You need to get to know your customer. Educate yourself about Fiona’s world. Talk to her, maybe even take a course.
How does Finance see Marketing?
You will learn that fundamentally Fiona sees Marketing as simply money out, a large bill that is difficult to attribute to revenue. Fiona doesn’t think half of the money you spend on advertising is wasted. She suspects that since you don’t know which half, it might as well all be.
How to convince Finance of the value of Marketing
You need to help Fiona understand that Marketing is where profit happens. You can start with relentless measurement. Digital Marketing in particular creates great opportunities for attribution. Start talking about Customer Lifetime Value and how it relates to Customer Acquisition Cost, feed numbers into that equation from your execution spend, and use data from anywhere you can get it to prove that marketing spend leads to customer acquisition and retention. That it can be a profit-centre, not a cost-centre.
While comprehensive attribution might not be possible, especially in less digitally-native businesses, Fiona will nevertheless appreciate your attempts. At the least you will establish a common language that lets you start a conversation about profit.
Fiona cares about money in and money out and making sure that equation is a profitable one. There is no easy way to make that so but there is a time-honoured, battle-tested and proven way and thankfully, it belongs to Marketing. Marketing is as much about short-term activation as it is about brand-building. In most businesses, brand is what creates profit. It reduces price-sensitivity among your customers, allowing you to charge more for your products or services, expanding the margin on everything you sell.
Every good Fiona understands that hyper-growth tech businesses with gaudy valuations and loss-making unit economics are the exception not the rule. After a few jokes about WeWork’s disastrous S-1 registration, bond with Fiona over your common love of profit. It is the key to all long-term value, healthy, reliable, and in your hands.
2. Sally in Sales
From the dry and dour spreadsheet world of Fiona in Finance, let’s hop on over to somewhere altogether more exciting, or at least, energetic. Where the hustlers hustle, the grinders grind and coffee is for closers, Sales is Marketing’s beloved sibling. There is rivalry, tension at times. While Marketing was at home studying for tomorrow’s exam, Sales was out challenging the other neighbourhood kids in athletic competition and chasing next door’s dog. Ultimately though these two belong together and, usually, they know it.
How does Sales see Marketing?
However while Sally in Sales should be your best friend and closest ally, frequently she is the opposite. Sally’s goals and objectives are clear: hit quota, hit quota this month, hit it next month, hit it again, and again, and keep hitting it and exceeding it until she takes home enough in bonuses to buy a giant watch or designer sunglasses or whatever else Sales people like to pose with on a yacht in the Mediterranean when they post to Instagram. #success #winning
Banter between friends aside, Sally’s objectives are short-term, direct, easy-to-measure and she is frequently under a lot of pressure to achieve them. Your objections to her excessive discounting or her disregard for your meticulously prepared pitch template don’t mean much to Sally. You might seem like you are asking for favours and giving nothing in return. Marketers too often forget their common language with Sales, quid pro quo. Marketing has to provide Sally with value. Thankfully there are a lot of ways to do so.
How to convince Sales of the value of Marketing
The pitch is ultimately a simple one: you know it makes sense. Marketing and Sales have to work together to get anything done. At the bare minimum, Sally needs leads and you need data from her interactions with customers to improve your understanding of the market. The potential benefits though, go way beyond this functional arrangement.
“There is no question that, when Sales and Marketing work well together,” write three experts from the two disciplines, “companies see substantial improvement on important performance metrics: Sales cycles are shorter, market-entry costs go down, and the cost of sales is lower.”
Your marketing wisdom can help Sally close more deals at greater value. Show Sally your funnel analysis. Help her sell to prospects at different stages in the cycle with different propositions. Marketing puts a lot of time and energy into understanding the customer throughout their lifecycle. This knowledge should be like a cheat code for Sally. In the end, trust that good salespeople understand that good marketing makes them more efficient, more effective, and, depending on your company’s incentive structure, richer.
3. Leo in Legal
Welcome to the Department of No. If you thought our friends in Finance were a tad humourless, wait until you meet these guys. Leo in Legal is a nice enough chap but you need to understand that 90%, maybe more, of his job is making sure people don’t do things that put the organisation at risk of lawsuits. In Leo’s world everything, everyone, is an accident waiting to happen and as the expert on TV ads you shouldn’t need reminding that, if you’ve had an accident at work, well…
How does Legal see Marketing?
On any given night, Leo will wake up in a cold sweat with four letters rattling around inside his head, G, D, P, and R. You probably know the feeling. There, at least, is an opportunity to bond. The point however is that for the most part Legal sees Marketing as a big fat liability. The solution to this (provided Leo isn’t right and your department isn’t running afoul of the regulators, in which case, stop talking to Leo and go and do something) lies in education.
How to convince Legal of the value of Marketing
People fear things they don’t understand. Leo fears you. Educate him. Why do you need all that customer data in the first place? Show him some of the many incredible examples of marketers’ legitimate use of this stuff. Talk to Leo about companies like Thread and how they are forging the future of retail. Explain to him that Amazon has become so valuable because of its use of customer data to improve the experience (in fact, one of Bezos’s earliest company retreats was dedicated to inculcating his team about the use of clickstream data to second-guess what customers want to buy).
Open up to Leo in Legal about what it is you actually do, how you do it and why and he will thank you for making his life easier. He will sleep better at least. Remember Leo may be from “The Law” but he is on your side. The more he understands about not just what you are doing, but why you are doing it, the more he will benefit and want to help you out.
4. Prakash in Product
Your relationship with Prakash is probably a little like your relationship with Sally, only you don’t go back such a long way. Once upon a time, these guys were one of your tribe. However this one of the Four Ps got out and has developed a tendency to “go native.”
How does Product see Marketing?
Prakash is prone to thinking that “if we build it, they will come.” Worshipping Steve Jobs and hanging reverently on every Elon Musk tweet, Prakash sees Marketing as a little old-fashioned. We don’t need ads, he might cry. We hate ads. We will build something worth loving and everything else will take care of itself.
While story points, pull requests, and bug tickets are important, they should be a means to an end. Prakash is under pressure from people all over the organisation, thanks largely to the visibility of his work. Emphasising with this starts with recognising why he so often gets lost in the weeds. He’s scrambling to get things over the line by deadline. From here, we can start to try to prove to Prakash that the best Product teams have goals and objectives that chime perfectly with Marketing.
How to convince Product of the value of Marketing
You and Prakash can bond over a shared passion for growth. The rise of “growth hacker” teams in all sorts of businesses proves that this can be the case. The fundamentals of how you acquire customers, how much that costs, and how well you retain them (or don’t, i.e. “churn rate”) can form the bedrock of your shared Product and Marketing KPIs.
The best companies hit these KPIs through constant iteration of different value propositions for different personae. High tempo testing relying on the Product team’s AB and split testing tools can give you some of the richest customer insight available, while delivering real measurable results. If your business sells software, this approach is a foundational requirement. Maybe there’s even potential to bake Prakash’s product into your pre-sign up marketing flow just like HubSpot did with its website grader. The holy trinity of sales, marketing and product works so well at HubSpot, they even invented a word for it: Sparketing.
So if you can help Prakash prove and measure the value of his work, you can unlock huge potential for positive collaboration. That starts with explaining to him how Marketing works and why his product matters.
5. Enrico in Engineering
You might feel like you and Enrico in Engineering have little in common. While you spend your time casting out for new customers, Enrico is squirrelled away deep in the databases.
How does Engineering see Marketing?
Server maintenance and service uptime seem a far cry from the front line and we are constantly told that developers themselves “hate marketing.”
How to convince Engineering of the value of Marketing
You will be shocked how interested Enrico, like all the best developers, can be in Marketing. Not only does Enrico usually know that the key skill in his job isn’t proficiency with the latest trendy language or framework, but communication, but Enrico is also curious. What is more, he wants to know why he is doing the things he is doing.
Enrico may even have realised for himself the value of Marketing when he tried to spin-off a side project into a business and ended up spending more time with SEO and Google Analytics than he did with their code. SEO is an important point on which you can bond too, as there is nothing a great developer like Enrico loves more than performance improvement and there is nothing the Google search algorithm loves more than pages that load quickly. Public status pages too are an essential customer touchpoint that developers are largely responsible for. The more you work with Enrico, the more you will spot opportunities to collaborate.
Educate your co-workers
Most of the tensions between Marketing and other business functions stem from a lack of understanding. Most of the solutions suggested here show that while there are clear benefits to mutual understanding between Marketing and other departments, these only become apparent through shared exploration of what you actually do and why you do it.
From running Digital Marketing Bootcamps for stakeholders from varied backgrounds, functions, and levels of seniority, I’ve learned that a little understanding goes a long way. Wherever you work in a business, Marketing can help in direct and indirect ways. As a marketer, it’s your job to ensure your colleagues understand this. If you can fulfil this obligation to educate, you will reap the rewards as much as they do.
As a marketer, you are an expert at creating behaviour change through understanding people’s goals and needs and approaching them with the correct value proposition. Apply this to your organisation. Talk to Fiona, Sally, Leo, Prakash and Enrico, and talk to them in their terms about their priorities. Remember Marketing begins at home.