18 Mar How to give your marketing team a rebrand
There’s a piece in the latest issue of Marketing Week that highlights research suggesting that Marketing “still has a job to do to change its perception as the colouring-in department.”
Here, I’d like to offer my own 3 step guide to giving marketing functions a ‘rebrand’, ensuring they become and remain commercially relevant…
Step 1: Fight the fluff
Marketing is too fluffy and doesn’t add any real value to the business. Sound familiar? Has your marketing function been referred to as the ‘brochure and brolly’ team? The colouring-in department? I’ve heard all of these and worse, so why do marketers attract this perception?
A common trap is that some marketing people focus on outputs that matter to the marketing team rather than outcomes that matter to the business. Who has ever won a piece of new business because the logo is exactly 7mm away from the top right of the brochure? Or grown market share purely thanks to the consistency of the secondary colour palette in PowerPoint decks? Your customers don’t notice or care about this stuff, so why should you?
As experts in brand management, isn’t it time we applied this knowledge to develop our personal brand and reposition that of our profession, rather than obsessing over minutiae that purely serves to reinforce the stereotype?
Begin with becoming obsessively curious about the wider business performance and how marketing can drive or influence it. Celebrate new customer wins within your team and make sure every one of them understands the key financials. Make a public commitment to link your team’s outputs to directly driving these business outcomes.
Step 2: Manage the magpie
Some are afflicted by the desire for the latest shiny new thing, whether it’s the latest technology gadget, social media platform or marketing technique. With advances in technology disrupting many traditional business models, there’s no doubt it’s an incredibly exciting time to be in business, never mind marketing.
Yet for many, this excitement causes a common sense bypass! Some are blinded by the brightness of the new thing, whilst others jump onto the ‘me too’ bandwagon to seek the reassurance that if other/bigger/more interesting brands are doing something, then so should we.
Marketers need to be better at managing the magpie within themselves and others. Make a focused, objective and dispassionate assessment before leaping in. Yes, be curious. Absolutely, be alert to changing trends. But always be asking ‘how will this help us achieve our strategic business and marketing objectives’.
To help, build an informal, cross-functional group from sales, marketing and operations so that you can draw upon the wider experience in the business when a shiny new thing comes along. Get them to help you define at least three ways in which it will measurably improve business performance. The harder you find this, the easier the decision not to jump on.
Step 3: Trash the tower
Marketers are sometimes perceived as living in an ivory tower, a place “where intellectuals engage in pursuits that are disconnected from the practical concerns of everyday life” (Wikipedia).
Sometimes we are worthy of the label ‘ivory tower’ because we have become internally focused and disconnected from the customer. Sometimes workload and organisational politics conspire to make it harder than it should be to spend more time with front line staff and customers, but how else will we get to hear first-hand accounts of how our products and services solve (or cause) customer problems?
When was the last time you heard the customer’s voice at first-hand? I mean truly first-hand, not sitting through a 72 slide debrief on ‘wave 58’ of the latest customer satisfaction survey (showing a 3% improvement from ‘wave 57’ but with a +/- 5% margin of error!).
Commit to spending at least half a day a week listening to your customers (internal and external). Go on visits with sales, listen to calls in the customer service centre, read this month’s customer complaints. Yes, formal surveys have a role but I guarantee that if you trash the tower and reconnect with everyday life in your customer’s world, you will learn more actionable insights to improve their experience (and your performance).
Is your marketing team in the process of rebranding?
I’d love to hear from marketing and business leaders that have transformed their marketing functions, or are in the process of doing so. What are the challenges you’re facing and what steps are you taking to overcome them?