Joshua Conran is the Managing Partner at Deksia.View all articles written by this author
Your business might offer a great product or service, but customers can’t read minds. They don’t automatically know the value of your product, so it’s up to you to tell them.
If you aren’t communicating with your customers, there’s no viable way to grow. Unfortunately, you may have to convince management that a solid marketing strategy is vital to your company’s health.
In this post, Joshua details five marketing myths that might be plaguing your company’s mindset, regarding both strategies for convincing the C-suite and for helping to move your company forward.
Marketers, by nature, are persuasive humans, yet sometimes they’re stifled by management’s delusions.
In my career, I’ve observed several misconceptions that interfere with effective marketing and, ultimately, prevent the company from growing and becoming more profitable. The reasons behind this are many and varied, but it usually relates to misbeliefs depending on managers’ previous experiences. It might be because managers don’t believe in a certain type of marketing investment, or they might simply consider the marketing department a mere backup to the sales team.
Whatever the case, if you’ve ever approached your C-suite executives with a killer marketing plan backed by concrete principles only to be shot down because they can’t imagine doing things differently, you’re not alone. However, if you prepare for possible ‘pushback’, you can present sound rationales for the importance of marketing efforts.
Here are five common marketing misbeliefs and how marketers can address them:
Misbelief 1. ‘We don’t have a marketing budget.’ Every company should have a defined marketing budget. In my experience 3 to 5 percent of net income to marketing is a rule-of-thumb for a minimum. Your C-suite needs to know that every business is in the business of marketing. Now, there are some exceptions to the 3 to 5 percent rule, but not many. The exceptions probably don’t apply to you.
Misbelief 2. ‘We are B2B; we don’t need marketing.’ B2B doesn’t mean there is less need for marketing budget. Far from it. You’re not marketing to a business; you’re marketing to a decision-maker (i.e., a person), so all marketing is effectively B2C. All clients have emotions, and those emotions are going to affect their decisions. If a business is putting out sub-par marketing campaigns and collateral, then that lack of detail and effort is going to affect future relations.
Misbelief 3. ‘We’ve never spent money on marketing before.’ If management isn’t satisfied with where the company is, then that’s probably the reason. Marketing makes a large impact on a company. It’s a virtual sales force working 24/7 to bring in new leads, qualify them, pre-sell them, and build brand recognition.
Misbelief‘ 4. Our competitors aren’t spending any money on marketing.‘ That’s great! The company can get a head start and increase its market share with less investment. Competitors won’t know what hit them.
Misbelief 5. ‘Our business is unique; marketing doesn’t apply to us.‘ No matter how unique, boring, or unusual the industry, marketing has been shown to work. Customers can’t read minds. You have to show them the value your product provides. Even if you’re the only one in the market, you can use marketing and branding to solidify your market authority. Instead of being put back on your heels when a competitor shows up after laying in the weeds and learning all your weaknesses like a velociraptor, you can show your dominance like a male peacock and keep would-be competitors from ever trying their hand.
Anticipating these misconceptions and preparing the appropriate responses won’t guarantee success. However, you can use your marketing know-how to increase your chances. When you’re selling an idea to C-suite executives, clearly outline what’s in it for them, and portray yourself as a credible source.
One critical piece of persuasion for executives is ROI. Specify the ROI you’re aiming for, and back up your claims. Laying out a concrete plan for how you will achieve this ROI will increase the chances of buy-in.
Although marketing departments are usually hesitant to promise specific ROI, if you remember that it doesn’t always have to be strictly financial, you might feel more comfortable with this approach.
Here are three tips for using ROI to make a stronger case for your marketing plan:
Tip 1. Choose the right ROI measure(s)
Net profit increase is the ultimate ROI, but it could also be a host of other things. For example, for a technology company, ROI could mean the number of users. For a company that’s spending money training new staff due to a high turnover rate, an important ROI would be employee loyalty.
Think about what really matters to your unique C-suite. What results would make them go outside their comfort zone?
Tip 2. Include measurement in your marketing plan
Now that you know which metric you’ll be tracking, make plans to measure it. Be absolutely sure you can trace results back to your marketing efforts, or someone may attribute them to external forces. If that occurs, then the next time you go back to the C-suite, you won’t really have any usable data to back up your credibility.
If your ROI is an increase in phone orders, for example, use a unique telephone number in your marketing campaign. Where applicable, A/B test everything, track results, adapt, and repeat. When you can visually chart your ROI, your C-suite will be more easily convinced.
Tip 3. Share your results with the C-Suite
If you’re unable to deliver the ROI you promised, it may be tempting to hide the results. But don’t give in to this temptation. Show the C-suite what you learned — even if it’s what not to do. Use the results to propose adjustments for the next iteration of the marketing strategy. They’ll understand the investment side of this.
It’s crucial for marketing professionals to identify and ‘fix’ these mindsets. Help your C-suite develop a healthy appreciation for what marketing is and what it can accomplish for the company.
The right marketing mindset in the C-suite will improve communication — starting with clearer expectations of the marketing department. When everyone knows what you’re tracking and how it contributes to the underlying goals, employees will be happier because they know what’s expected and how to achieve it.
Happier employees are more productive, which will ultimately lead to a larger bottom line. It’s a continuous cycle.
Some C-suites are more challenging than others. However, part of our responsibility as marketing professionals is to continue educating the C-suite (and all employees for that matter) on what marketing is about. It will make your job easier, your marketing campaigns more effective, your C-suite better leaders, and ultimately, your company more profitable.