Marketing’s role in any organization is critical; its leaders must be extraordinary.
Unfortunately, I don’t think marketing generally has stepped up to the challenge of doing remarkable things; in fact I think the craft is currently quite boring and unimaginative. I offer this perspective as a guy who spent at least 80% of his 33+ year career leading marketing organizations and fulfilling the role of CMO.
Sure, the internet has spawned a plethora of new tools to engage with and sell to people, but the essence of the marketing strategy employed by most organizations hasn’t changed much. There is still a relentless focus on price, mass advertising, product and service flogging and applying traditional marketing tools introduced years ago and pushed by academics and consultants alike.
Marketing leaders must take responsibility for this state of affairs; for the apathy they have accepted from their marketing teams. They must be held accountable to move the marketing discipline from an approach that was practiced in the past, and is now underperforming given the dramatic changes that have occurred in the market.
They must take responsibility to PERSONALLY lead their teams to a new relevant place, and not accept the inertia caused by their junior teams of marketing practitioners who have been taught principles of the past.
If marketing leaders accept how their team performs its role, they can’t be surprised when lacklustre results are produced.
Parochial leaders get mediocrity.
Organizations need marketing leaders to take control; people who will not stop until their team produces unheard-of results by practising the new relevant art.
Here are eight actions marketing leaders can take if they want to stand-out and turn their marketing teams into achievers of remarkability.
Set short-term revenue goals
Focus on the next 24 months rather than be a victim of the 5-year plan. This shorter term view will force an execution and results focus and avoid the “hockey stick” phenomenon where sales are supposed to miraculously show up at the end of the planning period.
Set revenue targets monthly and review performance to ensure you are on track.
Make revenue targets bold enough that you don’t know exactly how to achieve them
Discomfort and “I don’t know” is an effective way to drive innovation and creativity. If you know how to deliver your expected revenue, there is little or no incentive to do different things.
If you follow yesterday’s path, nothing remarkable happens.
Eliminate benchmarking as a tool for marketers to use
Copying won’t step your organization up to a higher level; it simply keeps you in the competitive herd. Ask, “How can we be different?”. Apply this question to every proposal you review.
If a proposal from one of your marketers doesn’t move your organization towards standing out from your competitors to being a “different breed,” reject the proposal out-of-hand. And fire any marketer who makes the same mistake twice.
Stop new customer acquisition programs
Insist on seeing proposals that generate more revenue from your existing customer base as opposed to providing special deals or promotions to prospective customers who you want to attract from your competition. The truth is that customers who join you from the competition can’t be counted on for any loyalty or added revenue over the long term.
Offer any special promotions or deals to your existing customers first; reward their loyalty.
De-emphasize price and establish value creation as your raison d’être
Ask what value is being created for your loyal customers, not, “How can we lower our prices?”. Everyone plays the price game and it leads not to competitive advantage but rather financial ruin.
Declare the marketing rule “There will be NO price incentives offered around here!” as the way to disrupt the momentum of using boring prices as a marketing tool.
And replace the product manager position with the product value position and reward those who are prolific at creating value solutions.
Recruit weird people
Marketing success today is all about finding what small specialty groups desire or want (satisfying what they need is passé) and proving them with unmatched value.
Start to populate your marketing teams with these types of people who can relate better to these curious customer segments. Look for contrarians. People who have bizarre ideas and question the common ways of doing things. People who hate fitting in.
You need a team of weirdos to carry your mandate breakaway from traditional marketing ways.
Expand your marketing team to include the frontline
The new marketing excellence is produced by understanding the deep innermost secrets of people you want to serve. The customer-facing frontline in any organization is THE most effective receptacle for customer learning; what customer’s desire. Recruit these people even if they don’t meet your “minimum education standards” — which are largely irrelevant in most cases anyways.
Get their ideas and implement them. And tell the rest of the organization what you are up to; hopefully they also will recognize the value of the human face to the customer.
Develop a competitive claim that is more than just hot air
The new marketing leader is not guided by aspiration. They are practical people who covet granularity, clarity and precision when it comes to defining why people should buy from their organization and none other.
Be clear and specific that the value you deliver to your customers is distinct from your competition.
They focus their attention on answering the killer question, “Why should I do business with you and not your competitors?” and purge comparative notions like “best”, “number one” and “leader” as ways of describing their market value proposition.
Marketing leaders must step up their game and take personal ownership of the changes needed to stay relevant and survive. Their organizations depend on it.
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