I interact with people from all different levels of the corporate marketing hierarchy. A situation I’ve run into many times is that one or more members from the lower levels of the pecking order have a different view for the marketing strategy of their company than those at the top. This usually leads into their reporting to me that they feel restricted by their boss or wish the management team would better understand their perspective. So, I decided to talk with a few of these people to identify some common tendencies with the hope that some of their frustrations will uncover some solutions for you. The following tips are the results of those conversations.
1. Decide to fight.
Easily one of the most common responses is that people frequently experienced dead-end encounters with their higher ups. Whether they refused to follow recommendations or simply didn’t ‘see the value right now’, many people felt as if they were fighting against air and they weren’t going to be heard. Over time, they simply stopped trying so hard. You have to manage those fears by continuing to do something about it. If you truly believe a different or fresh marketing approach would positively impact your company, then there is an inner sense of justice that shouldn’t be ignored. If you want to pioneer something inspiring, then manage your emotions, remember where you’ve been, and keep on taking action. However, if the status quo is more your speed, then by all means, just keep reporting the analytics of your monthly newsletter or blog and hope that is good enough.
2. Do the work.
In order to enlighten others about your brilliant marketing ideas, you have to put in the time to communicate their value. Often people settle for citing the stats from some study they came across and never really follow up with any execution suggestions. You have to bring more to the table. Research your company’s performance within any past or present campaign. Talk to your customers. Talk to internal stakeholders. Study your competitors. Figure out what is true to your brand. Dedicate the hours to uncovering the real areas for improvement in your company’s plan.
Don’t get so caught up in your quest for a marketing or brand revolution that you forget to take in the wisdom and experience of your boss(es) and peers. There is much to be gained from their thoughts and insights. Listen to what they have to say and make sure they know you’ve heard them, especially if you ever expect to be heard. If they feel you’ve ignored their input, yours may very well be treated the same.
4. Pair your vision with specific goals.
Since you’ve done the work and are actively listening to the leadership team, begin to highlight the company’s overall goals and connect a part of your plan to each of those goals. This will make it much easier to understand the present and future value of your new ideas.
5. Focus on results, not ROI.
Most of the people I talked with also indicate their boss is often demanding to know what the return on investment will be for every marketing action they take. Instead, demonstrate potential results with real examples. Whatever methods your plan calls for, find real examples of a similar campaign that was successful. Whether it is an email campaign, a rebranding experience, social media engagement, or even a brand new website–find a great example of success from companies that you admire and showcase that to your team. Now, I’m not saying to ignore ROI completely. I’m just saying that action of any kind leads to results. Measured results lead to insights. Those insights help you identify the areas with the largest potential ROI. So, talk about how you will measure ROI, but don’t play the game of always having to predict ROI. It is far more important that you are taking actions that produce results and are always studying those results to make better and better decisions with your marketing strategy.
6. Identify partners that can help.
If you don’t have a full team of strategists, designers, developers, and project managers dedicated to the marketing department, then odds are you could use a hand. Find an agency like nimblejack (or one whose work you love) and talk with them about how you can work together to bring all of your great ideas to life. Then, use them as allies of expertise to help you communicate the value of your plan to the leadership team or even come to a meeting with your internal team.
7. Manage expectations.
This final tip is very important. It seems like a lot of people get swept away into the “Sea of The Possible” and assume everything will just work out. That is not always the case. True, you need to be inspired and passionate. But, if you just guarantee huge results and leave no room to think about ‘what if this doesn’t go exactly as planned’, then you will create a tense environment and could damage your credibility if things go off course. Be positive, but don’t just assume everything you do will be great on the first try – there will always be room to improve.
Well, those are just a handful of tips I’ve gathered in talking with people who want more for their company’s marketing approach but feel frustrated in the process. Hopefully this helps you think differently about your situation, approaches, goals and communication strategies.
If you have any suggestions or want to chat about these tips or your next marketing steps, then let’s grab a coffee!