A young marketing manager I knew told me that her MD opened every meeting he ever had with her (and he avoided having those too often) with the question, “Remind me again, what is it that you actually do?”
Needless to say, that didn’t fill her with confidence – or job security – and naturally she always felt under scrutiny and under-valued.
The notion of the marketing team as the “colouring-in department” is, thankfully, becoming a thing of the past. But, while a lack of support from senior management is less of an issue that it used to be, 34% of marketers* still cite it as a “minor headache” to be contended with. We polled some of our marketing colleagues to see how they’d tackle such a knotty issue in their organisation:
1. Hit ‘em with the facts
Campaigns that simply raise brand awareness don’t cut the mustard and don’t really exist anymore. Budgets are tight, resources are scarce and marketers gear their campaigns to achieving real, tangible results. Routinely and regularly sharing those results and successes with managers and peers is the best way of demonstrating value and earning respect.
2. Talk about ROI
We tend to think of it as a marketing-only term but “Return on Investment” (ROI) is an organisation-wide goal. A well-run business will be looking to generate it from every department and every asset. Be mindful of yours (and not just your campaigns’!) and use it as one of your metrics.
3. Align campaigns to business goals
Marketing’s worth and value is easiest proven when it can be seen as integral and vital to the success of the organisation. A campaign that generates leads does so because leads equal sales opportunities, and converted sales opportunities equal revenue/turnover. So, while leads may be the campaign or activity goal, be sure to report these in the context of what contribution that makes to “the bigger picture”.
4. Remember who you’re talking to
Jargon is the enemy of effective communication. We know that, but it doesn't always stop us from slipping in to marketing speak and assuming others have a grasp of our terminology and abbreviations. Making ourselves difficult to understand is the quickest way to alienate others and put distance between us. Avoid at all costs!
5. Highlight what the competition is doing
Fear of missing out is a big driver for action. If your competition is engaged in exciting marketing while your organisation is not, then that could be an effective way to stimulate senior interest.
6. Ask (and keep asking) what they need
Having a plan and working flat out to deliver it is laudable. Discovering afterwards that that plan or set of campaigns wasn't actually what management needed or had in mind is a body blow. By their very nature marketers tend to be a) organised and b) goal-oriented. Both great attributes but focussing on a set of outdated goals won't win prizes or respect. So, keep revisiting goals to keep them aligned to what your line manager or director expects and needs you to achieve.
7. Cooperate and collaborate
Don’t operate in a marketing “bubble”. Engage and keep the conversation going with colleagues in other teams and departments. Ensure that they see the value in what marketing is doing, take an interest in what they do and how that interfaces with your own challenges and goals. IT is an obvious example. We have a shared interest in, for example, data and of course the critical technology that marketing is now so reliant on.
Being constantly asked to justify her existence didn't make for a great employer/employee relationship, but having the ammunition to prove her worth did make it easier for her to take!
* Econsultancy’s “Marketing Pain Points and How to Overcome Them”