Let me tell you a little secret. I’m one of “those”. A marketer. To me it’s easily the most exciting discipline in business. Finance? You can have it. Operations? Business school taught me it was difficult and necessary, but couldn’t save it from being boring. Economics? I can’t imagine spending a lifetime in that role. Change management? You’re at least getting warmer…
Marketing though…marketing is where it’s at. I think of it as an insanely challenging business role that gives you the perfection of right+left brain marriage. I get to use the whole darn thing. Constantly. How cool is that? Marketers get to play with everything from design to analytics to technology to art to science and everything in between. Love it. But I’m here to tell you-with the ever changing landscape of social media, big data, consumer behavior and constantly moving targets, outcomes of campaigns and efforts are notoriously difficult to predict, and that difficulty is increasing.
As my career has progressed over the years, I’ve had the pleasure of working with all types of marketers. I find most of my peers interesting, and some of them to be pretty tough nuts to crack when it comes to likability. We’ve all had run-ins with that marketer. You know the type. They sure know. The right way, the only way, every single time? Every question about social media answered, every content marketing question cast aside with snide looks of “I’m the expert here!” It’s downright laughable sometimes-even to us. I’m here to tell you, regardless of all the schooling and training in the world, relevant white papers on hot topics, case studies galore, we do not and we cannot have all the answers alone. Marketing is only one part of a big business puzzle. There are ways you can help if you’re not one of us, and questions you should ask if you are one of us so we can all be successful. How can we get past the fact that not every marketing effort is going to be a win, and ensure a positive outcome as much as possible?
1. Let me begin by saying true marketers are lifetime students, and we should be. There are plenty of people that get into marketing that do not have the schooling in the discipline. Frankly, some people just don’t know what they want to do, career-wise, at 19. That’s ok! But that said, you will have a difficult time succeeding in marketing efforts if you’re constantly snatching people from other departments and placing them in marketing roles with no preparation. And if they aren’t challenging themselves steadily with learning and training opportunities (AMA courses, certificate courses, topical conferences, seminars, industry events and online training) they will have a tough time understanding the tools and strategies in their box.
2. Propose open, honest communication between the marketing department/service provider and the company leadership. If you see something going south, or you see a potential future business challenge, let your marketing people know. Part of being a family, both at home and in business is watching each others’ backs. Both sides should be prepared-if they fail, that will affect everybody. Marketers need to ask their co-workers for information on subject matter, business process, corporate or organizational goals-what would make our marketing efforts successful in your eyes? Those types of questions aren’t just for interviews!
3. Marketing deserves a seat at the business planning table. The more you help your marketer understand your business strategy, the more they can build their strategy around your business goals. Business strategy should not be a secret, and corporate goals that are set, revenue or otherwise, should be worked in a pack mentality. We all need to feel as though we are a part of something bigger. This will become even more key as Millennials move into decision making roles in companies. Marketers should ask to be included, even if it makes them uncomfortable. Even if the answer is “no”, it will allow you a potential point of origin for future failures should you not understand business goals.
4. There is no silver bullet strategy-because buyers/customers aren’t machines. Sure, we can predict some behaviors. Just not everything. And certainly not always. Sometimes a campaign, social media outlet, etc. won’t work. Just like a prize fighter, the marketer needs to get back up and try again-a new messaging strategy, different outlets. It’s a lot easier if you have people in your corner helping you see where you need to punch instead of heckling. Marketers, ask for feedback when you have an unsuccessful campaign. You may have missed something-admitting it wouldn’t be a bad thing, we all need help sometimes.
5. Marketing is one of those disciplines that everybody thinks they can do. It’s just a fact. Regardless of the days, months and even years we may put into building a brand, advertising, etc., someone out there thinks “we really should’ve gone with purple as the logo color here…that is really the problem”. Correct if that observation was made in reference to the color of Barney, but just like many other jobs, you don’t know the amount of effort a project may take until you’ve actually tried it. Supporting efforts you may not understand is part of being a team. Does it mean you can’t question them? Of course not! But does it mean that just like something you admittedly don’t understand (finance, programming, plasma physics<-ok I don’t really understand that either), marketing deserves some respect if the people I mentioned in #1 are in your company.
I think if you keep in mind that we’re working just as hard as you are, and even though our job seems light and fun, there are methods to our madness and our job is to help you…help all of us, reach our organizational goals. This post took a completely different turn than I had expected, but I guess blogging as a social platform can allow for that type of thing. Remember what I said about keeping up with constant change? This is called marketing.