Turning reluctance into results
As marketers, a story we are frequently told by business leaders is that they know something about marketing. Oftentimes business professionals are thrown into marketing roles for short periods of time to work on lead generating initiatives or website management without being marketers by trade.
An alternative story we so often hear in the business world, is that of a company hiring outside marketing products or services and seeing very little return on their investments. We see large sums of money being spent on advertising, website development, and short-term email initiatives, only for results to erode over time.
Regardless of the story, the result is the same: management is frustrated by marketing and they do not know who to trust.
So, how do we build that trust? How do we get management on board with marketing? At the BBC Event hosted by the Channel Marketing Academy, Marie Wiese moderated a discussion with Jennifer Harris, Amy Spencer, and Liz Anderson which set out to answer these questions.
1. Start with the numbers.
The very first thing we have to do as marketers, if we want to get management on our side, is start with the numbers. Begin by having a clear definition of the following questions:
- How many leads do we need on an annual basis to hit our revenue goals?
- How many current customers do we have to resign?
- Where are our sales going to come from?
Having a clear knowledge of this information and being able to effectively communicate it, has a direct impact on how the marketing budget will be structured. As Amy highlights, knowing the numbers is the best thing you can do for yourself as a marketer. Without a clear breakdown of your numbers, management will be less inclined to place their trust in you.
In order to reach their revenue goals Company A has to have 80% of their revenue coming from the resigning of existing customers, and 20% as net new revenue. If the marketing team at Company A has a clear understanding of this, they will be able to adjust their budget accordingly. The marketers at Company A know that it is easier to build trust with someone who knows you than someone who does not. You will spend more in the awareness stage to find people to get to know but you should be spending an equal amount of money continuing to build relationships with people that know you. Nurturing an existing customer often means, making more sales at less cost.
The marketers at Company A will be able to look at what percentage of their budget is dedicated to marketing tactics geared towards finding people and guiding them through a sales process online (blog posts, newsletters, etc.), and what percentage are geared to nurturing the existing customers (sponsored campaigns that guide traffic into a workflow).
Like Company A, we have to start with the numbers if we want to get management on our side as marketers. With a clear understanding of how many leads we need, marketers are then able to (1) design a budget with an appropriate and effective delegation of resources, (2) use these numbers to inform how they will construct the tactics that go behind the marketing strategy based on where the priorities need to lie, and (3) ultimately drive better results.
2. Show Your Results
The second way we're going to get management on board with marketing is by showing actual results. Jennifer explains her perspective as a panellist with experience on the management side of business. At the end of the day, management is comprised of businesspeople who need to see how their investment in marketing will yield results. By having the data and metrics to back-up your marketing ventures, you are putting your marketing team in a good position to be well-received by management.
In any business structure, results need to be assessed and reported on a 30-day basis in order to paint an accurate picture of what your business looks like- what's working and what's not.
What kind of results are we looking for?
Knowing what to look for in order to report the results of your business’ metrics is important in earning the trust of management and producing the most effective marketing results.
We cannot rely on vanity metrics to provide an accurate depiction of whether or not marketing strategies are working. To put it simply: it does not matter how many people are now following you on LinkedIn or how many people you've added to your Facebook account, if that awareness is not being directed back to your website where a conversion can take place.
A conversion on the website is much more demonstrative of marketing progress than any form of vanity metric. This could be as simple as increasing the number of pieces of content being consumed on the website. Or an increase in the amount of time people are spending on your website.
Engaging in an assessment every 30 days will help the marketing team and the business as a whole to understand and clearly communicate how metrics contribute to KPIs, and what tactics need to be altered for higher performance.
3. Develop a mentality of testing
The third and final piece that is important for management to understand, is the value of creating a mentality of testing. This mentality is unfortunately lost for a lot of CEOs and management teams. The ability to test and iterate quickly does not mean you failed. It means you figured out another route to take and management teams need to look at marketing tactics differently than they have in the past.
The Common Story
Going back to the story we opened with, we often hear management teams who will say: “we tried ‘marketing tactic X’ or we bought ‘service Y’ and it didn't work.” The mentality of a management team after they do not get the specific result they’d hoped for is to have a general distrust of marketing. This is a rigid way of thinking and is the opposite of having a testing mentality.
In addition to the results assessment every 30-days, businesses should be conducting a deep dive on their analysis every 90-days to understand what specific tools and tactics need tweaking, and which ones are performing effectively. This requires having open and collaborative discussions with the sales team and company leadership. As Liz calls it, ‘Smarketing’ is essential in business today. That is, the collaboration between the sales and marketing department is crucial now more than ever in order to produce sales results from marketing initiatives. The worst thing you could do in your business is park a marketing manager in the corner without giving them data on sales results and business performance. Creating an environment where collaboration and communication is encouraged between sales and marketing is a step in the right direction of moving away from that rigid mindset we so often see in business.
If each of those business leaders who discounted marketing as ineffective had followed the rule of conducting a deep dive after 90-days, tactics could be adjusted. If they held a mentality of testing, they would see how to iterate to get the results they seek.
Oftentimes, the reason that many businesses lack this mentality of testing is because they don't have the right tools in place, such as a marketing automation system tied to their CRM. Without the proper tools in place there is no linkage between leads being driven on the front end, and those leads converting to sales, leaving a great level of uncertainty about the operations of the sales and marketing processes.
Use Your Voice
In order to get management on board with marketing, marketers have to be brave and outline what needs to be implemented in order for the work of the marketing team to produce the most effective results. Business leaders and management teams can be very critical of the marketing spend because it seems like an expense and not a revenue generator. But if we use these tactics, articulate what operations need to be set in motion, and continue to follow-up on them we can close that gap, and make the difference between being seen as an expense and a cost centre versus helping generate revenue.
The New Marketing-Sales Funnel
A final important asset to have on your side when working to get management on board with marketing, is being able to communicate how marketing will drive sales results. The management team will be much quicker to see the value of marketing if you can communicate
- How content marketing makes sales more cost-effective.
- Where the most important part of the sales funnel really starts.
- How a digital presence can generate leads and grow sales.
To learn more about the new marketing sales funnel, get the free guide.