By Guest Blogger Linda Popky, Founder and President of Leverage2Market Associates
So much has changed in marketing over the last few years. We have many new technologies and new ways to reach our audiences. Big Data gives us the ability to tailor marketing efforts to meet the needs of individual customers and prospects. We can deliver marketing messages and campaigns in ways and on devices that were unheard of even a few years ago.
The result is often more noise than light, more confusion than communication. As marketers, we struggle to keep up and to be heard above the ever-rising din in the marketplace. The noise in the external market hurts marketers but most senior marketing leaders are focused on standing out from the crowd and differentiating their products and brands.
It’s the second type of noise that receives little attention that is just as dangerous. That’s the internal organizational noise—or static—that can stop even a good marketing team dead in its tracks.
Static is the distraction that prevents marketers from broadcasting their message clearly to the outside world, and it occurs within their own organizations.
- When marketers are focused on internal organizational politics rather than providing outstanding experiences for customers —that’s static.
- When marketers operate as lone wolves in siloed organizations, without working closely with their compatriots in product development, sales, service, and IT—that’s static.
- When marketers are driven by creativity and awards, rather than meeting key business objectives—that’s static.
- When marketers focus on implementing the latest technology without considering the business goals they need to meet—that’s static.
In my new book, Marketing Above the Noise: Achieve Strategic Advantage with Marketing That Matters, I discuss 5 momentum factors that help marketers navigate the internal environment of their organizations and the marketplace. I’ve seen some of the most creative marketing campaigns and the best-researched market development efforts go off track because the senior marketing leaders didn’t pay enough attention to these factors:
- Organizational commitment: As a CMO or senior marketing leader, it’s your job to make sure the senior management team within your organization understands the value of effective marketing. Marketing should be a strategic investment, not an unavoidable expense. I worked with a B2B organization that spent so much time reacting to other groups’ tactical demands that I threatened to buy the senior leaders t-shirts that said, “Do you want fries with that?” Make sure you work inside the organization, in addition to on your marketing campaigns, to build your credibility as a team player and strategic advisor.
- Resources: Great marketing initiatives fall short if they are not resourced appropriately. No one gets the budget they’d like for marketing all the time, but there’s a minimum threshold that needs to be funded. It’s up to marketing leaders to determine where it makes sense to move forward and when it’s better to delay or cancel an initiative, rather than launch it without the necessary resources required for success.
- People: Yes, it’s important to appropriately reward and recognize the people on your marketing team. But with the evolution and transformation of marketing over the last decades, that’s not enough. You also have to ensure you are building the right capabilities and competencies to lead your marketing efforts in the future. A large technology company I’ve worked with reviews this on an ongoing basis. Sometimes this results in restructuring the team to match talent with opportunity—and managing out those individuals who don’t fit the new order.
- Technology: Some of the newest MarTech tools have such rich levels of functionality that most organizations will likely use only a small fraction of their capabilities. I know an organization that has invested millions of dollars in marketing automation tools, but hasn’t taken the time to develop the processes and procedures necessary to effectively deploy this investment across its organization. Use technology adoption as an opportunity to review and rethink processes and procedures, rather than blindly automating tasks that may be outdated and no longer valuable.
- Environment: In today’s world, what we thought we knew about the stability and maturity of our markets can very quickly be proven wrong. Look at Uber in transportation or AirBnB in hospitality. Is your market ripe for disruption? Decide whether you will be the disruptor in your market, or you will wait in the wings ready to pounce on disruption as it happens. Just make sure you are not caught unawares when the environment quickly shifts.
Eliminating static lets marketers focus on the message and the market, as well as the customers and the channels they serve. Amongst all this change there are some things that remain the same—what I call the Dynamic Market Leverage Factors.
Successful marketing must still be tied to strategic business goals. Marketers still need to focus on understanding our markets and our customers, and on producing high quality products and services. They still need to create strong, powerful brands, to support sales channels, to develop and deploy effective communications campaigns, and to measure and tweak the effectiveness of our marketing efforts.
Only by combining timeless marketing truths with new digital realities can marketers be successful in today’s world. As long as we don’t let static drown us out.
Linda J. Popky, the founder of Silicon Valley-based Leverage2Market Associates, transforms organizations through powerful marketing performance. She is the author of the recently released book Marketing Above the Noise: Achieve Strategic Advantage with Marketing that Matters. Learn more at www.marketingabove.com or connect with her on Twitter: @popky