“Sometimes I feel like people just view the marketing team as the annoying little brother of the business.”
Miss F, Head of Communications at a consultancy firm, is stirring in another sachet of sugar into her coffee.
“Like some kind of… attention-seeking, self-absorbed, money-splashing, annoying little know-it-all.”
“Well, maybe that’s just YOU?” I joke.
But I know exactly what she means; and this is a feeling I have had many times myself. Marketing does come under a lot of scrutiny, and rightly so, but often ends up being pre-judged even before the jury brings the verdict.
Like Miss F, I often ask myself what it is about Marketing that draws out negative or conflicting views from the rest of the business.
Many marketers have become used to be called things like The make-up station, The brand police, and The colouring-in department.
Where do those comments come from? And how can we change them?
For years, when working for various companies in the corporate world, I used to wish the rest of the company could see the value that Marketing brought to the business. But what would have been more helpful, would be to look at ways to allow mutual value to be created. Now – I know this sounds like a cliché, so I want to clarify a bit here.
In my view, there are three key problems that marketers need to actively address in order to change the way the business sees the marketing function.
1. Don’t let marketing be an afterthought.
The biggest rift between Marketing and other departments – and certainly between Marketing and Sales – happens when Marketing becomes an afterthought. Marketing often seems to be like the power cable that gets connected into the machine once it’s built and ready to go on the shop shelf. It is not been plugged into the entire process of idea, design, roadmap and delivery.
If instead the marketing team can be fully involved in understanding the genuine market requirements, developing the product and defining the success factors, there can be a more genuine and powerful collaboration. Only then can Marketing become more than just the glossy packaging. It becomes a true understanding of the customer, the marketplace, and the product, all coming together in a strategic approach to delivery.
2. Proactively engage with the business.
One of the biggest challenges for the average marketing department is that it can become marginalised by the business – because it allows itself to be marginalised. A successful and influential marketing function needs to be proactive in engaging and connecting with all other departments.
Take a moment to think about just how unique Marketing is, as a function. There is a natural connection between Marketing and every other part of the organisation that no other tactical function has. However – marketers are typically not very good at nurturing those connections!
We forget to work on the inter-departmental relationships. We fail to understand the role we play in the bigger business picture. This is a really important part of creating marketing confidence, and one that we’ll be revisiting in future blog posts.
3. Lack of visibility of contributions.
In all honesty – how much of what you do is actually shared with the business? The notion that marketing is just all about the fluffy, cosmetic stuff often comes from a limited knowledge of how it contributes to the organisation.
Think of ways in which you can get your various initiatives noticed more internally, using corporate newsletters or regular updates. And with the help of detailed metrics and ROI, you’ll be able to establish an even stronger visibility of how you impact the business.
As Miss F and I finish up our coffees, it feels pretty nice to know that – as with many other things – we can create change, from the inside. All we need is the confidence that says we do add value, whether it gets recognised or not.
What is your biggest challenge in asserting yourself as a marketer in the business?
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