Want to sell marketing to a non marketer? Ok, then don’t mention the word marketing

The following article was originally published on LinkedIn by Optune founder Cameron McIver on April 5, 2016. It’s an interesting insight into the type of thinking that helped launch the business early last year.


As I browse through my LinkedIn newsfeed, I’m constantly impressed by the amount of businesses I see delivering awesome strategic marketing initiatives. These businesses know what their customers want, and they deliver it in spades. They’re strategic, creative, dynamic, tech savvy and always on brand. It never ceases to inspire me.  

So, it’s hard to believe that in this day and age there are still plenty of businesses out there that struggle to see marketing as anything more than an admin activity.

So, how do these types of businesses define marketing? Here are a few interpretations that I’ve come across. Don’t laugh. They’re all real.

From a Sales Manager – “They’re the guys I call on when I need a brochure or need a client event organised.”

From an engineer – “They’re those arty creative types. They don’t really register in my world.”

From a tradie – “Can they provide signage for my work van?”

From an Operations Manager – “They’re the guys that sit in the corner and cut and paste all day. To be honest, I don’t really know what they do.”

You too may have experienced some of these at one point or another.

For an ambitious marketer, working with people/businesses like this can raise some obvious frustrations, but it can also present some fantastic opportunities to put some solid foundations in place that can deliver real results. So, what do you do when some of these very people I mentioned are standing as gatekeepers to your ambitions of transforming marketing from a barely noticed admin function to a key strategic part of the business? How do you go about preparing such a pitch?

3 key things

1.     Do your research

2.     Speak their language

3.     Focus on tangible results

When I say research, I’m talking beyond the desktop variety. Some good old fashioned grass roots stuff. Speak with as many people as possible that may be able to give you an insight into the personalities, attitudes, work style, etc of the people that you are planning on pitching to.

Speaking their language is vital. I once saw a creative agency sit down with a hardnosed engineer and ask him to clear his mind and go on a journey with them. This agency actually had some fantastic stuff to offer, but it’s fair to say that it was all, well… lost in translation. Engineers are all about absolutes, numbers and precision, so a pitch that incorporates this kind of thinking – even if they are only estimates – is likely to have a far better chance of getting across the line.

When pitching something that is new, and to people that may have some otherwise preconceived ideas in regards to what marketing is, always bring the focus back to tangible results. Bringing in relevant examples of similar businesses that have achieved success with a more strategic marketing approach often goes over well. Think about what defines success in the eyes of your audience, and carefully link your pitch to this. For a sales manager, it might be how a targeted marketing approach can deliver more leads.  For a bid manager, it could be about building the brand and strengthening the public profile in order to make the business more attractive within its target market.

When it comes to marketing, I’ve always been a big believer that nothing beats really knowing your customer, which is what all of this is about after all.  By linking the objectives of the business with the needs of the customer via realistic and effective strategies, you can’t go too wrong. Just don’t ever assume that you know what your customer wants without really getting to know them first. Otherwise, you too may just find that your messages are getting lost in translation.


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