I’ve been reading and absorbing a lot of chatter about the level of respect marketing professionals get (or don’t get) in companies across the nation. There is some debate as to how to justify and validate the need for such positions as CMO, Marketing Director and Marketing Manager – debates that tend to ignore the elephant in the room. The bottom line in most of these discussions is that if nothing is bought or sold, then there really is no “business”, and that without the skill of folks internally in a marketing capacity, regardless of title, no one would be aware that the potential for commerce with your business exists, and therefore no transactions could occur. So based on that logic, without marketing, there is no business. Yet, there is an ongoing debate as to why such people are needed, and what their value to the organization might be.
Why is this?
Is it because the rank and file are jealous that the marketing people seem to have all the fun – planning and attending big events, creating collateral, going on photo shoots, speaking with media editors and television stations, creating commercials, and the like?
Is it because other employees think they could do the marketers job, it doesn’t look too hard and they have fun, so why can’t I contribute to that?
Is it because with so many marketers out there, there must be a reason everybody picks that, it must be easy?
Is it because they have a larger budget to work with, and sometimes a larger staff over which to divide the work?
I’ve heard all of these postulated in one form or another, and many others as well. I’ve sat in meetings where senior executives questioned the efficacy of the entire marketing department’s efforts in the face of 10-20% business growth directly tied to specific campaigns! When the economy slows, such complaints often rise in volume and stridency. Apparently a rising tide floats all boats, but when the waters recede, the marketers that made the boat and kept it afloat are no longer effective . . .
As marketers, it is our job to facilitate contact and commerce from without the company by working from within the company. There needs to be a belief that an investment in marketing activity drives commerce far in excess of it’s cost, and that beyond that, criticism of the mechanisms employed and the means brought to bear are so much sturm and drang from naysayers. If a culture of marketing is formed and supported at the top of the organization, and communication of those efforts within the organization is fast, accurate and appropriate, that culture will flourish and all members of the company will prosper.
So, how do we spread the word of such simplicity, and earn the respect we deserve as facilitators of transactional commerce?
1) Do the job well, and get results that can be measured and proven.
2) Stop worrying about who gets credit, or blame, and focus on results.
3) Closely tie effort to results, and promote those results in reasonable, detached fashion – leave the ego out, and just state the facts without the superlatives.
4) Drive the volume of effort upward – not all ideas are good ones, and not all executions are perfect. But the more you attempt, the more likely one will be a success.
5) Innovate new ways of thinking and doing that drive success. Open your mind to input from unusual quarters, and give it it’s due diligence. You never know where the next great idea will come from.
6) Show that the work you perform every day has value to the entire company, that everybody wins when marketing is effective.
When sales slow down and the economy contracts, many companies go into “emergency” mode, cutting costs, laying off workers, creating an environment of fear and uncertainty, and delaying or outright removing opportunities for innovation – exactly the wrong reaction in a crisis. Many companies have been operating this way since mid-2008, and after six years the fear has turned to something else, killing creativity, halting innovation, and limiting possibilities for success.
This presents an excellent opportunity for the marketing department to shine! Teach the others how to do more with less – we do it every day! Show others how to think and work your way out of a problem – we do it hourly! Tell others how to prime your thinking to view situations rationally with an eye toward exploitable opportunity – we do that constantly!
Give away the benefits of your talents as a marketer, and the respect you deserve will return to you ten-fold – that’s a heck of an ROI in anyone’s book.