Once upon a time not so long ago in a kingdom not so far away, Marketing asked for a seat at the big boy’s table. Determined to lose the tag of being purely a communications role, CMO’s insisted that it was marketing that held the key to improving the bottom line – and therefore, must be included in all strategic business decisions.
These pioneers had a strong point, it echoed often enough, and was reinforced widely enough as a ‘good thing to do’. For its efforts, Marketing was granted a seat at the table, and grinned for weeks – even months. They thumped the table when discussion was off strategy, and admonished any initiative that had the potential to damage the brand, and patiently educated the others around the table about how Marketing should be measured on its ROI.
Unfortunately, that’s about all Marketing did.
It’s an all too common scenario – the newly appointed CMO enters the business with great vision to turn the company around (or at least contribute strongly to revenues), only to fall well-short of this goal as he/she fails to really influence strategy within the top management team.
Chief Marketing Officer, despite enjoying an abbreviated title, isn’t a position that’s structured for power.
Let’s face it – Marketing has an image problem! And, until we redefine Marketing’s role, we won’t ever again secure a seat at the ‘table’, we won’t align others to our vision, and ultimately, we will be destined to remain a help desk for tired sales people.
‘B2B Marketing’ – perhaps the most misunderstood term in the business world and a relatively new concept; a grey space shaded by its consumer-focused sibling. We may all agree that Marketing’s primary goal is to motivate the right customer to buy a particular product or service. But let’s drill into that a bit: In complex B2B marketing, Marketing’s job is to create demand. This means we need to identify the best markets, to position your brand with those markets, to unsettle / trouble that market about the status quo, and then to move prospective buyers through their journey in the right quantity. We hand over opportunities when they’ve reached the agreed degree of ‘doneness’ to our willing sales force. Or at least that’s how it’s supposed to be.
We’re also accountable for dealing with all the buyers who leak from the funnel, but that’s another story for another day.
But exactly how is marketing positioned to achieve this objective?
You may be familiar with the four P’s of marketing:
And now, technology has taken us beyond the four P’s, adding 3 more to the mix:
- Physical evidence
And a bunch of cogent marketing authors have added other P’s (position), S’s (service, satisfaction), and who knows what else?
Whether you buy into this simplistic set of topic headings or not (and I don’t), this still seems like a pretty comprehensive list of activities, so why is it that when we think about marketing, do we only remember one P?
It seems that the role of marketing is continually being relegated to just Promotion. While promotion may be an important aspect of good B2B marketing, alone, it fails to harness marketing’s full potential, to drive strategy in all areas and win us that seat at the table.
So what is good marketing and how do we achieve it? I hosted a Funnel Masters dinner (alumni of Funnel Academy and other funnel zealots) recently, and this is what they concluded:
In order to be successful, Sales and Marketing must be aligned to strategy – a clearly defined path for growth. Forming this plan is difficult – executing it is even harder!
Many of us (marketers) can relate to being so busy with the day-to-day tasks and responding to requests from several different departments that we struggle to find the time to drive any kind of marketing plan.
Marketing departments are often accused of providing a weak return on investment. Whilst the sales team have the opportunity to prove their worth by measuring their efforts on business revenue, the marketing team often only have a couple of brochures and a bunch of collateral as material evidence of their hard yards.
For marketing to be taken seriously we must insist on being measured against the same metrics as the sales team – new business revenue!
Plan to be an agent of change! To become a true change agent you need a plan. This plan needs to be informed by the business’s current situation and future objectives. Marketing needs to be the task master in terms of defining how the company is to get from a – current situation to b – realising growth aspirations.
To get from a to b, it’s likely that something will need to change. First work out what needs to change and then be religious about driving this change every day.
To successfully execute a strategic Sales and Marketing plan, the whole company needs to buy into the vision. And it’s hard to gain the respect that’s required to influence your colleagues accordingly, when you’re constantly playing the role of PA to the sales team.
Mastering internal communications is paramount – remember that communicating your sales and marketing plan effectively is just as important as the plan itself.
It’s tempting to overlook the small details when you’re busy, but you need to remember that it’s all the little things that make up the big picture. Good B2B marketing means executing all the seemingly small tasks with precision, and rhythmically!
Marketing deserves recognition as being a large part of the recipe for business success. A clear vision that is well communicated and executed precisely, will drive new business revenue.
The formula is simple, but we must be disciplined in our implementation to finally win back that seat at the table.