Well, the answer to this really is the golden ticket, isn’t it?
For the particular individual, they are facing a specific situation. For others, it might be a bit different. For this, I’ll address the situation of the lovely individual who submitted this question and tackle a few others along the way.
To jump down to what best sums up your situation, click one of the following self-selecting statements:
- The CEO is thinking of eliminating the entire marketing department and outsourcing all efforts to an agency
- We feel like we’re all over the place with our efforts—chasing this idea, this tactic and this trend. Bottom line: we aren’t getting the results we want.
- We’re trying to boost our Millennial marketing. How can we appeal to that audience?
- We’re partnered with four different agencies, and things are getting a bit hard to manage.
- We’re constantly at odds with the sales department.
- We’re doing great work, but we don’t feel like the rest of the leadership team takes us as seriously as other departments.
The CEO is Thinking of Eliminating the Entire Marketing Department and Outsourcing All Efforts to an Agency
Since the beginning of agencies, this has been a thing. Nowadays, however, I feel like this is happening more than ever.
To your CEO and organization’s leadership team, it might seem like a great idea. The idea on paper is that they’ll save money and get better results.
To the agencies out there, they cheer this on. More money and opportunity for them, right?
The Stark Reality—Agency Overwhelm
This might look like a great idea on paper, but it doesn’t often end well. Yes, I’m part of an agency and I’m saying this is a really bad thing.
Let me fast-forward the situation for you. The organization cuts off its marketing limb and everyone in it. They then reassign all marketing responsibilities to someone else on the team. That someone else is most always a senior member of the team with other responsibilities. What’s also ironic is often times these senior team leaders don’t have a lick of marketing experience and are thrown into the fires.
At this point, the organization settles upon an agency. Even if it’s the best fit, most capable and strategic agency in all the land there’s a problem about to emerge. They’re dealing with an organization suddenly without the bandwidth to properly support their efforts.
If you’re assigning all of your marketing responsibilities to an agency, they’re going to be doing a lot of work. That work will need approved at least to a certain point. It will require a collaboration with the organization.
But again, there’s no one who can properly support that and so things go slowly. They crawl and crawl because people are busy and that agency is overwhelming.
Organization’s Need Marketing People, Even When Agencies Are Involved
I’m all for bringing in an agency to compliment, drive and/or lead your marketing communications efforts. To properly work together, an organization needs to offer a marketing point of contact who’s only job is marketing the company.
They have the bandwidth and experience to help an agency’s efforts be successful.
Sure, it might seem like a good idea to outsource to that local agency, but an organization has to ask the question, “Who’s going to devote the time needed there to get things done?”
Admit Where Improvement Can Be Made and Communicate This Picture with Leadership
The entire reason that leadership feels like this is the best option goes to a deeper level. At the end of the day they are unhappy with the results of the marketing team. This could either be with good reason or because they simply haven’t been properly informed about the return on investment of their marketing people.
Sit Down with Them for a Chat
It’s important to sit down with leadership in this scenario. As the head of marketing, you need to figure out what the issue is. Are you not making a real impact on bottom line sales? Are you not properly communicating your activities and the true impact of your efforts?
Look at Your Team
On another note, it could also be time to slim down your team. Organizations are always looking to refine their teams as much as possible to reduce inefficiencies. Take a good, hard look at your team. Are your efforts working? Is your team properly equipped? Do they have responsibilities that contribute actively on a daily basis?
Propose a Plan for Improvement
If you need to improve, you need to communicate that. But don’t just take responsibility, take initiative. Propose a plan for turning things around.
That could include help from that agency who can fill those extremely nuanced spaces you can’t. Prime examples of this are branding, website design and overall strategy. In these areas, an agency can be a game-changer and a valued partner.
End of day—it’s my true belief that your organization will always need a person who’s sole job is to oversee and manage marketing communications.
We Feel Like We’re All Over the Place with Our Efforts—Chasing This Idea, This Tactic and This Trend. Bottom Line: We Aren’t Getting the Results We Want.
If this is you, there’s nothing to be ashamed about. Honestly, ask anybody. Most marketing departments tend to feel this way.
If you feel like you’re all over the place then I can almost guarantee you I can make an assumption—you don’t have a plan. I’m not talking about a one-pager with a few bullet points. Or something you briefly talked about at that one meeting a few months ago.
I mean a real, detailed and thoroughly considered plan. If you did, you wouldn’t be all over the place. You wouldn’t be chasing ideas. You wouldn’t feel this confusion and conflict of trying to steer the ship in the right direction.
First, Understand Your Ideal Customers
The most overlooked step of marketing communications is this—understanding ideal customers. Every organization—regardless of industry—has three-to-four ideal customers that they best serve and are best served by. Side note: an organization without any possible ideal customers is a business that will fail sooner or later.
I’m not just talking about some broad strokes of those audiences. I mean a deep-dive into their psychology and individual journeys. I mean an understanding of those audiences that is as deep as your knowledge of your friends and/or family.
This will inform you of the places they hang out, the people they listen to, the places they get their information and what they’re ultimately looking for.
Create a Plan to Reach Them
Above knowledge being uncovered, create a comprehensive plan to hit them.
Leave Your Jargon and What “So-and-So” is Doing at the Door
And you know what forget about all that jargon. Forget about all of those trends. If you know your ideal customers as well as I just talked about, you’ll know exactly what platforms to leverage. Too often organizations get bogged down by trendy platforms and techniques, but in reality, everyone’s audience is different.
Create that plan to reach them with effective messaging and a value proposition that’s clearly communicated. Measure the results. Tweak. Continue.
We’re Trying to Boost Our Millennial Marketing. How Can We Appeal to That Audience?
Millennials. The most talked about group of the presentable marketing landscape of years past and present.
Here’s a good question: why are you trying to boost your millennial appeal? Are they actually an audience who can leverage your product or service?
Millennials Aren’t for Everybody
So often marketing departments chase after millennials, but don’t really know why. Because they have money to spend?
What if what you do has nothing to do with them?
Again, and referencing the point above, understand your ideal customers. If you do this, you’ll know exactly who’s your tribe. Millennials might be in this or they might not. If they’re not, accept it. C’est la vie. Pursue your ideal customers.
A Way to Reach Them (that’s not for everybody)
If millennials aren’t your natural-born audience, then there still is a way to reach them. Big word of caution here though. This may or may not be worth the trouble. It may or may not work. It may or may not make sense for your organization.
If you don’t appeal then you need to create a product or service that does. If you’re going to do this, however, you have to understand this target audience. You’ll need to do a profound amount of research and analysis to come to the right conclusion of how you can create something that will actually appeal.
From there, your brand might actually limiting you. So, you might need to create a sister brand to properly communicate and promote the product. Because these aren’t your natural-born audience, it might take some serious work to get to a trustworthy place to reach them from.
We’re Partnered with Four Different Agencies, and Things Are Getting a Bit Hard to Manage.
In some scenarios, multiple agencies working for the same organization can work well together. This is usually when two agencies with a past working relationship and complimenting service sets are partnered up.
I hate to say it, however, but when you get into the three-to-four-to-five agency range, things hardly ever work well.
Why All the Agencies?
I have to ask this. Why all the agencies?
A lot of times organizations we speak with don’t have compelling enough reasons. “Sounded good!” “Friend of a friend.” “They said they could change our sales funnel.” “They have knowledge of millennials.”
What happens is a lot of irons are in the fire, your team is overwhelmed, you’re most likely spending far more budget than you actually need to and you’re not actually getting results.
Focus on Your Goals and Recalibrate
Too often, organizations just keep bringing on agencies because they’re confused, aren’t sure what agency will fit the bill and are desperate for change. The change, however, has to happen within. If you’re confused, you have to face it and resolve it.
What are your actual business goals? Who are your actual ideal customers? How can you actually reach them?
With those answers, you can figure out what type of agency you actually need. More times than not, I think you’ll uncover that it’s only one or two very specific agencies.
The other recommendation I can make is to seek a full-service shop. It’s one team you’re dealing with, one relationship you’re building and one consistent product right on down the line.
We’re Constantly at Odds with the Sales Department.
This is another common situation. The bad blood between marketing and sales team in our world is as old as the Capulets versus the Montagues.
I will say that we are starting to see a unification of marketing and sales nowadays. It’s a bit slow going from my experience though.
The main point is this, marketing’s job is no longer to reel in the leads and toss them over the fence to sales. I think that’s where some of the tension arises. Marketing’s job is to harness those leads and work with the sales team to help them best diagnose and close those leads. The leads often generated by marketing teams are far different than those gathered by traditional sales techniques like cold calling.
Rather than being separated departments, these departments should work together in harmony. They both have the same, end-of-day goal—impacting the bottom line.
Broker a Truce Meeting
If there’s bad blood between your marketing team and sales, there’s a reason. In order to start better working together, you need to figure out what that reason is.
Set up a truce meeting and bring in some other members of leadership. This could be the head of HR or the CEO. What’s important is that the two teams have an open dialogue about what the root problem is and how it can be overcome.
In a lot of cases, both teams don’t recognize that they’re playing for the same team. A lot of times marketing departments don’t keep sales in mind when doing campaigns. On the other side of the coin, sales doesn’t handle the leads garnered from marketing in the right manner. This causes resentment on both sides.
Getting on the Same Side
As a marketing department, you have to recognize that sales potentially knows the end-customer better than you do. Ouch, yeah, I just said it. The reason being? They are the ones working to close the deal after you attract them.
You need to get sales’ feedback. What’s the lead quality? Are you sending them garbage leads who waste their time?
You also need to bring sales into the marketing conversation. They have vital insight that is extremely beneficial to the marketing brainstorm process. Don’t just pull in a “token” sales person to try to broker peace. Actively seek their collaboration in creating compelling campaigns.
Still, Not Working?
Efforts definitely need to be made on both sides. If nothing’s working then let me be perfectly honest—people need fired.
The unification of marketing and sales is vital to an organization’s bottom-line success. The two need to be collaborating and working together. If this can’t be achieved—regardless of how many peace talks—then it’s a stubbornness in the people on those teams.
The CEO or leadership team—given they agree with unification theory—would best warn and then proceed to fire those who are blocking the unification. It sounds harsh, but sometimes it’s what needs done to wipe the slate clean for a brave new world of effort.
We’re Doing Great Work, but We Don’t Feel Like the Rest of the Leadership Team Takes Us as Seriously as Other Departments.
Some organizations put a lot of faith and pressure on marketing communications. Others tend to undervalue their role and purpose.
If you feel like you’re on the side of being undervalued then it could be for any number of reasons. What I’ve found most often is that in situations like this, the marketing department isn’t showcasing their efforts well enough.
Marketing departments and agencies suffer from this issue—showcasing return on investment.
Show a Direct Link to Sales from Your Efforts
You need to be tracking everything you do. With this technological age, it’s not hard. What’s most important is understand what the bottom line is. Is it butts in seats? Is it cars sold? Is it revenue goals for the restaurant?
You should already be targeting these bottom line goals. If you’re not—and you’re just doing “cool” stuff for the sake of doing it—then it’s no surprise why the organization doesn’t take you seriously.
It’s not enough to just go after the bottom line. You need to show the direct path of how your efforts brought in that new customer. Beyond that, you need to present these insights to your leadership team.
Here are some of the common places marketing forgets to track:
- PPC landing page phone calls. If you aren’t adding a phone number on landing pages then you should be. People don’t always want to fill out a contact form. Once you set up that phone number, you need to set up call tracking. This will record the exact conversation occurring as a result of a prospect finding your landing page. It will also track this user, which you scored, through the rest of the website. If they make a call somewhere else, it’s a direct link to you. If they buy on the phone, it’s a direct link to that PPC campaign and your landing page.
- Asking prospects/new customers how they found you. This information is gold. Not only does it showcase that direct link, it influences your marketing efforts going forward. Notice a ton of people coming from that one event you do every year? Up the ante on that. Notice a ton of people coming from that PPC ad? Up the spend.
Showing Return on Investment Opens the Doors
If you truly showcase the return on investment in a real way, this will open the doors to more budget and more flexibility. Once you show something is working, you earn the opportunity to try to do more.
Something I Missed?
Is your marketing department going through something you’d like our thoughts on? Let us know below.