Don’t let the world fool you into believing that your role is just to face the customer when you’re fighting hurricanes internally.
When you’re talking to people and you mention that you’re a marketer, what is usually their next question? "Brand or performance?" "Digital or Offline?” "B2B or B2C?" Have you heard them too?
The minute one hears ‘marketing’, they think of the outside world. What is the brand communicating to the customers? What is the medium of communication? What are the customers buying? What is the price point… and the list goes on... But more often than not, the reality is that a marketing leader is largely consumed fighting the battle within the organisation. Before an idea is marketed outside, hundreds of ideas and directions are pitched inside and shot down.
So why is it that when we’re hiring marketing brains, we still revolve our questions around tools and budgets? Around what’s done outside. Around awards and accolades. While all that is important, shouldn’t we be also worried about aspects like cross-influence and convincing? Convincing and conviction. Conviction and persistence. Persistence and customer success?
Because C-Suite doesn’t care about marketing
A key role of the marketing leader is to find ways to overlap what the customer wants with the business goals. And the various stakeholders. This includes bringing the C-suite on to the customer’s page. And of course, then bringing the customers on to the C-suite’s page. The C-Suite does not bother with whether or not you’re using the latest marketing automation tool or whether you’re doing enough social listening. Whether you’re going to use Google Adwords or Facebook Campaigns. They’re one camp that does not care about the marketing jargons. They only care about how what you’re doing is impacting business. The numbers. The needle. Is it moving?
And when we say business, it covers everything from customer experience, legal, financial, development, manufacturing, operation, sales, support to IT. So how can a marketing leader make an impact across business?
Marketers are not just accountable for marketing
Almost everything happening in your company, in some way or the other, impacts the customer. And as a custodian of the customer experience, by default, you’ll see yourself being drawn into conversations across teams and functions, if you’re lucky enough to be in a transparent organisation.
Let’s take a few hypothetical examples to explain the cross-influence better.
If your sales team is given the mandate to onboard more merchants and they’re somehow struggling, it’s the prerogative of the marketing leader to devise a pull mechanism for the merchants. It could range from the highest traded merchant winning a car and his glories being published in the local newspaper to generate some excitement around the programme.
Now let’s say you were working in a product company where the product head ships an update, and soon after, discovers a slight flaw. In this situation, they should have enough trust in the marketing person to be able to share the shortcoming and help prepare a plan that salvages the situation. The marketing person in return could help roll-out the product to a certain set of users and call it a beta program. They could create some excitement by opening a bug-finding event. The customer feels she/he found the bug and the product head gets time to fix it and roll it out to all users. Win-win.
The toughest is when your startup founder wants to go big with a large-scale pull campaign. Because all other competitors are out there, winning and building a favourable graph. And you’re not. Because you know your product is not ready for a pull campaign. Not before you identify the reason behind the churn. Not before you better your retention metrics. How can you convince a founder to have lesser hunger? This has been the toughest kind of convincing I’ve faced. But we did. We did end up taking the right call for the business goals and the customers.
Marketing is about getting everyone in the company to do the right thing for the customer
And that’ll not come easy. You’ll have to spend countless ways of convincing people. With numbers, insights, user stories, videos, interviews and what not! But don’t give up in just one conversation. Take the effort. Be the person the company reaches out to for advice. And do it all for the business goals and customers!
How to convince when the matter is beyond marketing?
Firstly, understand that people are not on the same page. So don’t get agitated if they don’t see eye to eye on the issue. Sometimes they wouldn’t even want to hear you out because hey, why are you talking for design? The product head has already decided so what’s the point of a discussion? All of these things will come to your mind. But remember, as the custodian of the customer experience, these things will make an impact.
For me personally, the following methodology has worked out:
- Storytelling: Get people involved in the problem by getting them to empathise with the customer
- Validation: Validate the story with as much data as possible. Primary or secondary.
- Back to business: As much as possible take the conversation back to the business goals and numbers and how the decision could impact that.
- Be ready to change: If in the conversation you see a new point of view, don’t be a fool and not change your stance. Be nimble and do what’s good for the customers.
- Get back to work: Don’t celebrate yet. There’s a long way to go to execute.
So next time someone asks you what does a marketing leader do, you know you’re not just marketing but you’re building an organisation and an army of customers.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)