If you have worked in marketing, you know this problem: Everyone in your company has an opinion on how to do your job and worst case also thinks that "it can't be that hard".
The Credibility Problem
In most companies marketing is still spending rather than making money. And the reputation of our profession is tainted by the era of communication and PR where nothing could be measured and we were ousted to the sidelines as the guys and gals who "just send the weekly newsletter" and "design that brochure". And by nature we are seldom involved in sales directly and not included in the product sprints. While this gives us a certain freedom, it also raises the suspicion of everyone else "what we are actually doing all day".
It took me years to realize that our daily activities were elusive to people outside of our marketing team. The result of this confusion and lack of transparency is lower budgets (and fruitless fights for more), as well as low importance on the product backlog activities and overall company strategy.
So my lonely warrior, it's time to make some friends.
How to make friends and influence...
The upper echelons of the company cares about results. And there are two critical things that you as a marketing leader need to take care of: 1) Continually showing how your activities fit into the overall company strategy and objectives and 2) proactively and consistently showing your progress. Fail to do any of the two consistently and you'll face scrutiny.
A few ideas on how to accomplish that:
- Create a dashboard of the most important metrics that any member of the management has access to and can consult "on-demand".
- Send out a weekly slide deck where you report on the metrics they care about (ask them!). Do not try to hide or manipulate the data to fit your purpose, transparency breeds trust.
- Send out a SHORT monthly report of your main activities. Show what worked and what didn't work (and why). Explain how your activities fit into the overall strategy of the company. Why are you doing a podcast? Why did you overhaul the FAQ? Why are you spending so much on retargeting-ads?
Product has two major problems that you can help them solve:
- How does the product and all its features fit into the overall narrative of the company vision and philosophy? What's the story?
- How do we educate the customers on our product and its capabilities?
A few ideas on how to support the product team:
- Use the freaking product yourself! Show them that you care, report bugs and add feature suggestions to the product backlog.
- Sit down with product managers regularly and ask them about the product roadmap, trying to understand their overall vision. Ask them how you can help with the onboarding of new customers.
- Develop a consistent story around the main value propositions and problems your product or service solves for the customer. It's your job to create clarity for the customer as to what your company stands for and how your product fits into their lives.
- Develop educational content for your product: Landing pages, FAQs, help centre articles, product walkthrough videos, Q&A webinars etc.
- Ideally hire a product marketer in your team who is dedicated to the above activities.
The sales people are your friends, they sell what you market. So treat them as such and do your job, aka help them to sell!
- Weekly meeting (at least monthly) with the sales team. Ask them what the current sentiment is, what angles work, what features they ask for the most, why they choose our product over others. The sales people are at the front and usually have a very good antenna on what's going on.
- Listen in on sales calls to learn first hand about the customers' most common objections and common questions. Understand what makes a good customer or lead.
- Based on the above, ask them how you can help them with customer case studies, presentation decks, sales webinars, white papers, explainer videos etc.
- Try to understand the sales process and help them automate or simplify their customer outreach. Oftentimes marketing has a much better grasp on the CRM and sales automation capabilities.
- And one last thing I wish I did more consistently from the beginning: Share the content you produce with your sales team! Blog posts, podcast episodes, landing pages, website changes, people want to know about it, because it gives them a reason to email their prospects.
All of this seems like a lot. But once you get into the groove of it, it'll be a normal part of your job. The common denominator is proactive communication and an active approach on understanding the expectations and needs of your peers. It not only enables them to do a better job, but also helps you to gain credibility and let them help you.