Couple of days ago, someone asked me about my job. As I was answering, I saw the beginning of a smile on his face. He waited politely for the end of my sentence and told me:
”Ah yes, marketing, you’re part of the people who spend what sales people earn”.
I laughed politely at this recurrent joke, but it made me think of how I should present what I do in a better way. So I looked around to see how marketing agencies, digital consulting firms and the rest of our ecosystem were selling their work.
I read about remarketing, retargeting, IP targeting, segmenting, activation etc. I very seldom read about revenue, growth or business impact. Why did we fall into the inside-out language that we so fiercely advocate against when advising our clients?
It is no news that the world of marketing has moved from the fairly simple world of Don Draper to an amazingly complex ecosystem.
But it also means that we switched from very little measurement to millions of KPIs. From creative fueled, marketing became engineering driven. The relationship with our clients switched from difficulty to trust to difficulty to understand. But at the end, and as always, difficulty of understanding leads back to mistrust. Mistrust prevents cooperation. Silos fuel mistrust. Back to square one.
Besides the ever growing complexity of marketing, the impact of the multiplication of ways to run digital marketing also drove us away from our clients. Before, it was simple. A client brief leads to an agency proposal, then a choice of print, radio or TV.
Now we have literally hundreds of ways to share content online. Marketing people became like sound engineers, turning nobs to find the perfect mix; we run A/B testing, sometime multi-variable testing to come to the optimal way of capturing leads. From the business point of view, it seems we need to spend more money to make more mistakes and only through them achieve our goals.
That doesn’t sound to many like a reliable way to do business.
So what should we do instead?
Marketing people constantly tell their counterparts that “brands should be emphatic, put themselves in their client’s shoes etc.” yet we have difficulty doing it for us.
One of my previous manager used to start all his presentations by a $. Reminding the audience that marketing is about generating business growth not only makes marketing speak the business language, but it creates a beacon for all the activities we run and how we measure their success.
For each dollar spent, marketing should answer the question “how does that impact the business of the company?”. And the answer should not be “we’re connecting with a target audience we want to engage”. That is marketing language. Instead we need to talk about how it will impact the customer, or how the product managers, the Sales rep, the exec team and the company will benefit from marketing. In their OWN language(s).
What happens in the marketing kitchen when choosing channels, processes or tools should stay in the kitchen.
Martin Luther King did not say “I have a mission statement”. / Simon Sinek