Does your team ever struggle to win support for their plans?

The subject of marketing influence and
effectiveness has hit the marketing press
again.  Deloittes have
done a global survey and Marketing published the findings last week.   It is a
great survey based on authoritative opinions of 217 C level executives mainly
CEOs, CMOs, and CFOs.
This reminded me that 10 years ago we published
two papers
in co-operation with The Marketing
  These were based on survey
findings from over 500 senior executives across all the business functions.  One
paper was about marketing influence and the other about the future of marketing
as a business function.
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Some things have changed
reading both 1998 and the 2008 papers I noticed that Marketing is now more
central to strategy for the CEO.

Now 81% of CEO’s see marketing as a key driver of
  "the chief executive is much more open to talking about
marketing these days"  CMO 2008

what has not changed is
that marketing teams remain
detached from the rest of the business
often do not own
the customer agenda within the business.

In 2008 – 77% of C-level respondents believe their employees do
not fully appreciate the value of marketing
  "I worry that I am seen
as too specialised compared with my peers in other functions"  CMO

In 1998 we found marketers do not
communicate well with the rest of the business
and are often
seen as specialists who spend a lot of time talking to each other and their
agencies but not enough time engaging with their own business.   Our report
identified three characteristics of typical marketers that help to explain

  1. Marketers lack breadth and are
    conspicuously more loyal to their own professional development rather than
    broadening their career within the company
  2. Marketers tend to be highly creative and
      These strengths quite often go with weaker people
    and team player skills
  3. Colleagues in other functions have much better
    people and influencing skills
    and this helps them exert more
    influence within the business.

Our conclusion in 1998

marketing profession was optimistic about its future
.  The rest
of the business wants it to succeed.  The role of marketing is to champion the
cause of the customer throughout the business and ensure the business meets the
needs of the customer in a profitable manner.  In many ways marketers are well
equipped to do this.  The have the respect of the business for their creativity,
intelligence, technical skills, energy and drive.


Marketing teams must develop new skills
and operate in some different ways if they are to deliver this
role in an effective manner.  It is essential that marketing earns the respect
of the business so that the whole business becomes market led.  The key to this
would seem to lie in new communication skills and having robust tools for
identifying opportunities, analysis and measurement.  Without this the creative
brilliance and smart analysis will lose its impact.

Since then, we have
found that marketing teams who do spend more time working cross functionally and
engage the whole business in their plans end up with much greater influence, are
more highly regarded and create stronger top line growth.

This insight shaped the development of the
Growth Game. 
Our whole approach is  designed to
overcome these issues 
Get the Marketing influence

It is also instructive to examine Deloittes
conclusions in 2008

  • There is often a misalignment about the role of marketing amongst board
  • CEOs must help the CMO to align the organisation around growth
  • The role of marketing is often misunderstood
  • Marketers need to broaden their commercial skills to play an increasingly
    strategic role in organisations
  • The focus on marketing measures is intensifying
Access to Deloittes report click

If you recognise any of this, then take a look
at our marketing influence programme
.  This works with the
marketing team and includes a 360 degree department feedback.  This programme
encourages the team to think about why they should view the rest of the business
as their customers, how this will help them achieve their goals, where they need
to improve their communication skills and how to engage other colleagues to
accomplish this.
Marketing influence programme – click


Give your customers a New Year Present

Happy New Year! There may not be a tradition of New Year presents but you can get your 2008 growth plans off to a great start by giving your trade customers a present.

I’m not suggesting you "re-gift" those socks from Auntie Dot at Christmas but rather you share some knowledge, free, with no strings attached, and no proposal at the end that you want them to agree to.  After all, these are the people who stand between you and your product getting into the hands of the people who use or consume it.  Why wouldn’t you give them a present!

In days gone by their critical role in the success of your business might have been recognised by a lavish gift.  All your competitors did the same.  That sort of behaviour is no longer tolerated but there is no ban on giving knowledge "gifts" that benefit the organisation rather than the individual.  And your competitors probably aren’t doing this which means it increases the relative value of your relationship with the customer.

Most of you will have gathered all sorts of new knowledge during 2007 whether from research, attending conferences or visiting other countries (and as an aside if you haven’t then you are behind the game because everyone else in your market has!).  You will have diligently figured out how to use this to best advantage to persuade your customers that your new initiatives will transform their business.  In the process you will have carefully screened out anything that will distract from the laser beam of logic that leads towards the inescapable conclusion of your desired outcome.  Whether your customers believe you rigged the research or not will depend on their preconceptions of the initiative in question.

This is of course a huge missed opportunity. The customer thinks you are only interested in your own business.  While in reality you have lots else you could share that they might find really valuable in the development of their own business.  And of course it is no bad thing to help them grow their business because if it grows then yours probably grows too. 

The knowledge or insight is best packaged as a single digestible thought rather than a long detailed analysis or report.  The real gift is making the insight useful and easy to assimilate.  This doesn’t take a lot of time; it is more of a mindset shift.  It doesn’t need formal presentations with all the expectations that this creates, often a simple email can be more powerful.  Something that reads: Hi, we were doing x, found out y that we thought might interest you, here’s some detail, hope business is good, see you soon.  It’s short, simple and shows you care about their business

Imagine the impact of doing this over time. Instead of always struggling to get meetings you might actually get an invite when they want to know more.  It might enhance the credibility of the research and insight evidence you use when you next have an initiative you want to implement.  And they might start to ask your view on more than just your narrow product expertise.  In other words they would value the relationship more and while a valued relationship doesn’t guarantee revenue growth, one that isn’t valued certainly hinders it.

This is a goal worth pursuing so, as sales and marketing teams, why not start the New Year with a new attitude towards customers.  Think not just about what you want them to do for you, but also what you know that might help them – and start handing out those presents.