Monday, August 24, 2015
WHAT MANAGEMENT SHOULD EXPECT—FROM MARKETING
“Inspect what you expect.”
Most of us in business for any length of time have heard the “inspect what you expect” mantra. It’s a succinct, memorable reminder of that most fundamental of business concepts--management by objective…even more to the point, management by Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound (or SMART) objectives. And yet, it’s a concept that is not universally adhered to, particularly when it comes to the marketing function. So many organizations continue to “let marketing off the hook” by expecting the bare minimum from them: providing sales materials, setting up trade shows, and responding to off-the-cuff customer or sales questions or requests.
Actually, “letting marketing off the hook” doesn’t really get to the heart of the matter. Senior Managements that don’t expect much more than these aforementioned things from their marketing teams are not only missing out on major competitive advantage opportunities, but they’re also leaving money (a lot of money!) on the table. So, what then, should Management be expecting from Marketing…to get a big return on their investment in marketing resources?
1. Accountability—Of course, if senior management is going to expect a big return on their marketing resource investments—both people and initiatives—it follows that marketers must be accountable for measuring and reporting the ROI on all of their marketplace spending. For this to happen routinely, reliable tracking and reporting methodologies need to be in place; in fact, every organization must devote people and money resources to actually set-up these methodologies. In other words, while management has a right to expect ROI for marketing spending and initiatives, management also has a responsibility to oversee the set-up and operation of how that ROI is determined.
2. Ideas, Ideas, Ideas—Good marketers are idea people. Ideas of all kinds—positioning, product, pricing, promotion, placement and so on—are what makes them tick, the “why” for them to get into marketing in the first place. Marketing, then, should be the idea spigot for the organization. This doesn’t mean that all ideas will come from marketing. Not does it mean that each idea that pours out comes directly from an organization’s marketers. What it does mean though is that each marketer comes to work every day intent on keeping many ideas flowing—by providing sound strategic direction to and soliciting them from other functions; by engaging and inspiring the company’s outside resources to the max; and, sure, by offering their own ideas as well.
3. Thought Leadership—Good marketers are not merely idea people. They are also typically excellent conceptual thinkers. Procter & Gamble used to sum up what they expected of their world-class marketers by saying, “P&G marketers get paid to think conceptually.” Practically speaking, that means thinking that runs the gamut from identifying new segments and markets, to crafting point-of-difference, winning brand positioning strategies, to developing ownable communication campaigns. Clearly, an organization that expects only selling materials and trade show kiosks from its marketers is tapping into only about 10% of what good marketers are capable of delivering to the organization. And one other thing about marketers and thought leadership: good marketers always have a point-of-view; indeed, whether popular or not, they are never shy about sharing that POV.
4. Communication Leadership—Most organizations look to their marketing function to provide brand/product communications. It’s taken to be one of marketing’s core competencies. But management should expect more than leadership communications (regardless of the media-form those communications take) from their marketers. They should expect marketers to consistently and effectively communicate the direction their brand is going, why it’s going that way, and how it will get there. The best marketers make a habit of scheduling “dialogue time” with all key function leaders and in ensuring that everyone understands their brand’s positioning…because positioning only gets implemented when synchronized in everything the brand does. And almost everyone in the company does something toward positioning the brand.
5. Choices—Perhaps the most challenging of all expectations from marketing is this one, looking to marketing to push management to make hard choices. What kinds of choices? Well, for example, choosing which marketplace segments to invest against and which ones not to invest against (directly confronting that familiar senior management default of trying to be all things to all people, despite the reality of having extremely limited resources to apply in the market). Or, choosing which ideas not to pursue—thinking along the lines of Steve Jobs who famously said something like, “I’m as proud of the things we said no to as I am of the things we said yes to.” Truth be told, most good marketers are pretty astute at making smart choices, but they too often run into senior managers who water those choices down…which, by the way, makes delivering that “expected” ROI highly unlikely!
Of course, there are a good many other things that Management should expect from Marketing—from tangibles like winning annual marketing plans to intangibles like passion and enthusiasm. But we think the five listed in this week’s DISPATCHES top the list. But…there’s a catch to getting these expectations met. And the catch is simply this: no Management has the right to expect these outcomes, these contributions from their Marketing Function unless that Management demands them. That invariably requires a very strong Management leadership by example.
We started with that familiar “inspect what you expect” principle. We’ll end with another one that is, at least, familiar to a good many communication agencies: “Clients get the communications they deserve,” meaning you have to really want the best you can get. Well, you know what? Management gets the marketing they deserve too.
Richard Czerniawski & Mike Maloney
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