Let’s face up to something that may be hard to hear if you’re a marketer.
No one outside of marketing really knows what you do. And they don’t know what you do because they don’t care enough to find out.
Sad to think about, right? But do you want to know something that’s sadder still? It’s probably your fault.
Either you’re failing to make the value you add to your business known or (far worse) you’re not actually adding any value that’s worth knowing about. Branded notepads and golf balls aren’t value. Just “jazzing up” a PowerPoint deck or “sprinkling some magic” on a handout will mean you’re a member of the colouring in department forever more.
Marketing’s contributions need to be more valuable so we in turn make ourselves more valued. Who’s top of the list when costs need to be cut, and redundancies need to be made? More often than not it’s marketing. It’s a tale as old as time.
Here’s a short case in point for you to mull over.
Both familiar and alarming
I met a friend I’d not seen for a while whilst out on a dog walk the other day (on my once-a-day outing for exercise. Don’t dob me in). She’s an Executive Assistant to one of the C-suite in a big American SaaS company and we got to chatting about work, as you do.
As a big old nerd I’m always happy to talk marketing but as we did, she hit me with a little sound bite that got me thinking. It’ll probably sound familiar and alarming in equal measure to any marketers reading this.
“We’ve got so many marketers in our company and I’ve no idea what they all do.”
That’s scary isn’t it. “So many” would mean the impression is there are marketers taking up space. And “No idea” too. Not “an inkling”, not “some thoughts” as to what they’re getting up to. No. Idea.
And that’s coming from someone who sees and hears what the leaders of this company see and hear on a daily basis. And it’s a similar story in a lot of organisations out there, especially in the B2B world.
Go ask the question
If you’re a B2B marketer (which you probably will be if you’ve carried on reading this far) try it yourself. Ask your better half what they think marketers do. Ask a non-marketing friend what marketing does in their company. Ask someone in your own company who’s not a marketer what marketing does. Hell, even ask other members of your marketing department and see what their answers are like. It could be a real eye-opener.
Now, I’m not suggesting that everyone in every company should know exactly what everyone else is up to. But they should at least have a vague idea of what other departments in their business do – even if it’s just at a primary school level.
- What do finance do? They look after the money
- What do HR do? They look after the people
- What do Marketing do? Dunno, pretty pictures and the website maybe?
Maybe I’m being too harsh? Marketing is a many-headed beast. It covers a multitude of different disciplines which will differ in their use from one company to the next. Where one company prioritises ABM another may be doubling down on Paid Social, for example. So maybe it’s tricky for the uninitiated to say what marketing does?
It shouldn’t be tricky though
In any instance, there should still be a ‘thing’ of value that marketing looks after and is known to be responsible for, just like Finance and HR in the primary school examples above.
So, as a marketer how do you get to a place where the rest of your company knows what it is you do and what it is you look after?
Here are three ideas you can use to make sure you’re valued, and your marketing department is seen as valuable:
Talk the language of your business
What I’m really talking about here is increasing your relevance and making sure that what marketing does is made real to the rest of your business.
Marketing and marketers can sometimes operate in a bit of a bubble. Click through rates, dwell times, engagement rates, etc. are important marketing metrics that help track the success of activities. But they’re just that, MARKETING metrics.
Does the CEO really care about click through rates on an email campaign? Is the VP of Finance bothered visitors are spending 10 seconds longer on a certain website page? Does the Sales Director give two sh!ts about that 5% boost in engagement your last LinkedIn post got?
They first thing they’ll ask if you put stats like that in front of them is “So what?”. And you need to have an answer to that question if you want to be taken seriously.
Ensure you address that “so what?” before it gets asked.
The click through rate is a good thing because 10 of those people then converted and are in the sales funnel. The dwell time boost is great because it’s a page that shows high intent and has led to a 3% knock on increase in website conversions. The 5% engagement boost is awesome because it came from top target individuals, 4 of whom have now requested a call. You get the picture.
Find out what the business cares about, then make sure your marketing aligns to it.
Bring the outside in
Marketing and marketers should be those in a business who have the deepest understanding of who your customers (both prospect and existing) are, what they want, and how to satisfy that.
Sure, sales teams get close to customers but only briefly in a transactional way. Once the deal is done, they’re on to the next. As they rightly should be.
Account managers, BDs or whoever is in charge of looking after customers day-to-day will also be close. But only ever with a handful of customers at a time – which isn’t necessarily representative of an entire sector or industry.
It’s in the gift of marketers though to have their ears open across target markets, organisations, functions and individuals. They should be tapped into what the reality is for customers and they should be bringing that back into the business on the regular.
Imagine the power you’re able to wield if you know in detail the challenges target individuals are facing, the demands that are placed on different functions, and the external forces that are driving change across industries – and you can then bring that to bear for the benefit of your business through your marketing activity.
Bring the outside in. Be the “voice of the customer”. And use it to increase the value marketing adds to your business.
Stop doing crap jobs
Despite (or in fact, because of) people not knowing what marketing does, a lot of people think they can do marketing.
When marketing’s viewed as the “colouring in department” or a team that are there to “just jazz things up”, people will think “well, I can do that”.
If marketing were instead viewed as “the innovation department” or a team that are there to “create strategies based on detailed research and data” I doubt few people want wilfully breeze up to a marketer and think they could do their job.
So, make sure people see/hear of marketing what you want to be known for.
Stop doing the crap that adds no value (put your crayons away, keep your “jazz” in your pocket) and start shouting about the great stuff you ARE (or should be) doing.
Running campaigns that are generating great returns – tell people. Supporting winning bids – tell people. Building content that is making you distinct against competitors – tell people. You get it.
It may feel like your swimming against the tide in the beginning and it can be disheartening to still get asked for branded golf balls or “a nice powerpoint deck” every now and then. But knuckle under, stick to your guns, stop the crap, and shout about the great.
The choice is yours
I’m sure there any many other things you can think of that will help marketing add value for your business. It’s your business after all, not mine. You’ll know much better than I will. But are you doing those things? If you are, great. If you’re not, why not?
Don’t think you’ll be taken seriously? Then start talking the language of the business and making yourself more relevant.
Not got the insights to share? Roll up your sleeves, do the research and bring the outside in.
Too busy doing everything else? Bin off the crap jobs that don’t add value, focus on the stuff that does and shift perceptions.
The choice really is yours when it comes to the value marketing adds to your business and how valued you are as a marketer. If you’re happy just being a member of the colouring in department than that’s cool, but if you want to make a real difference to your business then make the choice to step up and do what needs to be done to get people to care.