I’ve spoken to so many marketers over the past few months that have suddenly found themselves out of a job. It breaks my heart.
I know these are very tough times and we’re all struggling, but it doesn’t make it any easier to see so many good, clever, experienced and hard-working people no longer valued in a profession that is so close to my heart.
Even pre-COVID I personally experienced all too many times business that were going through a rough patch and looking for areas to cut, and more often than not that first head on the chopping block was marketing.
If I can offer one piece of advice to any marketer that still has a job but is getting very nervous, it is to focus your energies on adding as much value to the marketing function as possible.
When I say this, I’m not so much talking to those in marketing focused organisations that already understand that marketing is vital in order to survive in an increasingly competitive world.
I’m referring to the archaic companies that struggle to see marketing as anything more than an admin activity.
It’s hard to believe that in this day and age these businesses still exist, but they do. I’ve been there and I know how frustrating they can be for any aspiring marketer.
You know these types of businesses. I.e the ones that are almost comical in how they define marketing. Here are a few interpretations that I’ve come across over the years. 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.
So, what can you do about it?
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 and get your efforts noticed on the balance sheet – which is the only place it matters at the end of the day .
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
- Do your research
- Speak their language
- 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, and the harsh reality of this is that you may well find yourself out of a job.
Good luck and stay safe.
I always love to receive feedback (positive or constructive) on this or any of my posts. Feel free to contact me at any time.