I recently attended a major conference focus on marketing. One of the general session panels focused on what the C-suite expects from their marketing department. While the conference was focused on the multifamily housing industry, the comments are symbolic for where marketing stands in the eyes of most senior executives.
If you’re a marketer, the news is not particularly good; indicating that there is still a long way to go before senior executives give the proper respect and consideration to the role of marketing in creating sustainable, predictable revenue. Let there be no doubt, without an effective marketing effort, businesses cannot have predictable or sustainable revenue growth.
Executives still think of marketing as the arts and crafts department, or as an associate of mine likes to say, "balloon buyers." While this can certainly be true, the executives on the panel (without realizing it) highlighted how they contribute to the problem. They were asked what they expected from their marketing department and how they define success. The answers fell into three categories:
- Creative/progressive ideas
Here’s my question – how do you measure those three categories? You can’t!! And that’s why lip service is paid to marketing, yet the actual resources (money, effort and willingness to change) put forth rarely match.
There are three keys to ensuring that your marketing efforts are aligned and supporting your B2B sales goals, in order to ensure that you’re getting enough bang for your buck. Marketers: follow these keys to get the resources you need and the “seat at the table” you deserve. Executives: here’s how to assess your current marketing efforts.
1. The focus needs to be on results, not process.
I was talking with a consultant of the multifamily industry about this marketing problem, and he expressed the frustration that while executives are aware of the problem, they never seem to put it at the top of the list. In my experience, the reason for that is because marketers make it hard to allocate resources to match their requests.
As written earlier, you can’t measure creativity, progressive ideas, or even differentiation. Marketers need to stop focusing so much on the process of marketing and, instead, focus on the results. This can be done by:
- Talking about the revenue chain.
- Providing specific goals – and being accountable to those goals.
- Making it clear how and when actions will create revenue.
Simply stated, marketing needs to meet a quota – just like sales does.
2. Be clear about the risks.
I don’t know anyone who believes that there’s a 100% chance of anything working. If there’s any value to the action, there’s a risk that you’ll fail. Be up-front about it.
When building your marketing case, share not only the goals, but also the risks involved in achieving those goals. Be clear about the threats. Most importantly, clearly communicate how you will track your efforts, and when and how you will make course corrections.
Executives can’t wait 12 – 18 months to judge the effectiveness of a program. While the full effects could take even longer to judge, you must be able to assess and refine efforts within a 60-day period or the effort is most likely a bad idea.
3. Speak the language of B2B sales
I’m convinced that one of the main reasons why we’ve successfully gotten companies that don’t invest in marketing to do so is that we don’t sound like marketers. We approach it from a sales perspective.
Marketers need to learn to speak the language of sales. And this doesn’t mean just speaking about impacts on revenue (though that would certainly help), I mean understanding, speaking about, and addressing the sales process. I’ve always gotten the attention of the senior suite, because I’ve always spoken like a businessperson who sells. Marketers need to do the same thing.
If you’re a marketer, ask to ride along for a day or two with salespeople. Sit with them when they make their calls. Listen to the live presentations they make. The experience will not only make you a better businessperson, it will provide the insight you need to gain the resources and make your sales growth predictable and sustainable.