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Marketing Marketing

Make sure your marketers get what they deserve

by Lynn B. Upshaw

When business goals are achieved marketers are certain to get some of the credit.  But when performance falls short marketers can also receive disproportionate helpings of blame.  What Marketing needs is better marketing. More than ever, marketing leaders need to ensure that their teams receive the credit they deserve.  Not for the sake of self-glorification, but because of a pragmatic reality: that which is not marketed is overtaken, and marketers must not let their own trade be out-maneuvered by other corporate players who compete for the same funding and support.

Here are some recommendations about how to better market Marketing:

  1. Create an internal Marketing advisory board. Every marketer needs a mentor and every marketing group needs a mentoring group.  Consider establishing an informal, multi-disciplined Marketing advisor group of supporters who are both willing and able to provide candid advice about how to operate most effectively within the organization.    Be sure to include influential representatives from teams who regularly challenge the need for marketing programs, such as those in Sales.
  1. Build a formal marketing plan for Marketing. Apply the discipline you use to build external marketing plans to the marketing of Marketing. Some of the issues you might want to address:
    • What is your concrete “business objective” for Marketing? Are you seeking more bonuses for your team, increased absolute marketing funding, or perhaps a greater percentage of total revenue for marketing?
    • Who should be your highest priority “clients” within the organization? Who are the real champions of Marketing?  Which mid-level managers outside of Marketing are allies you can count on, and do you know how to take full advantage of their support? (see #3 below)
    • What should be your “marketing strategy” to achieve your business objective? Are you trying to increase your management mindshare, or multiply the number of Marketing influencers in the company, or are you just seeking more internal recognition that your team is as invaluable to the business as Finance, Sales, or R&D
    • How should you “position” Marketing within the organization? What do you “promise” as a team to management and your colleagues in other disciplines, and what “reasons to believe” Marketing should you regularly hold up as evidence of your team’s effectiveness?
    • Are you as strategically aligned as a Marketing team as you claim is the case for your marketing programs? Do your internal actions as a group flow from careful strategic planning or are you seen (rightly or wrongly) as reactive tacticians?
  1. Use your marketing expertise to sell inside the building. Every Instagram posting or Twitter hashtag or website upgrade is potential evidence of the vitality of your marketing programs.  Every print ad or radio commercial or online video could be the cornerstone of an exciting internal marketing program that brings to life what’s happening in your part of the company.  If user content generated (UCG) materials works externally, try using it among non-Marketing employees to provide some fun opportunities to get them involved in your marketing programs.  If content marketing works well in the marketplace for your brand, use the same technique within the company.  CMOs in companies such as Starbucks, Caterpillar, Kaiser Permanente, IBM, and Nokia regularly demonstrate the wisdom of selling inside before marketing outside.
  1. Create supportive “channels” for your internal marketing efforts. Extensive research reported out in the Harvard Business Review in 2014 that “today’s high-performing marketing leaders don’t just align their department’s activities with company strategy; they actively engage in creating it.” You would never consider launching a new marketing program without establishing strong sales channel partners and aligning the optimum communications channels.  The same applies for the internal marketing of Marketing.  Who or what will best serve as conduits of information and news about Marketing?  Which other departments in the company would be willing to co-sponsor events with Marketing like brown-bagger lunches where teams share what they do with other teams, including how to better communicate and work more productively?  Two examples:  1) IKEA’s “Yammer” micro-blogging tools that was so well-received that it didn’t need any internal marketing to become a key element in many employees’ lives; and 2) GE’s extraordinary creation of a company-wide marketing focus through the creation of a series of strategically on-target internal initiatives under the banner of “Imagination Breakthroughs.”
  1. Preemptively propose stringent marketing metrics. Bury your non-Marketing colleagues in meticulously documented marketing data that a) supports any and all recommendations while b) subtly persuading doubters that your group is driven by rational decision-making even when using emotion-based marketing programs.  Your goal in such efforts is not to make Marketing look good but to make marketing programs appear as inarguably logical – a position that is hard to assail from any direction.  As part of this process, update your vernacular:  it’s not enough to refer to marketing spending as “investments” that eventually pay out.  Instead, consider referring to marketing as “the fuel for our growth” and/or as the way to “ensure the long-term health of our business.”  Some companies that are masters of so-called “big data” and make the most of that knowledge in support of marketing efforts include Nike (with Nike+), Avis Budget (for promotional programs), MGM Resorts (for high-roller rewards) and Macy’s (for customer touchpoint management).

Leverage what you know about marketing to help make the case for Marketing and your own marketing team, who deserve their fair share of credit for accelerating company growth.