I’ve been in a variety of marketing organizational structures throughout my career and I have also worked within a number of philosophies regarding the role that marketing plays in those particular companies. Each company was different, from setup to reporting to career path, so while I can’t say I’ve seen it all, I have come close!
Since the financial meltdown of 2008, it seems like two things have been evolving regarding the role of marketing.
- I guess I should thank Joe Pulizzi and his band of content marketing warriors for this first observation: Many traditional “sales and operations” companies (primarily B2B) have begun to add a permanent marketing function—given the rise of content marketing—to help drive sales.
- The second observation is almost the opposite of the first one: Companies are trimming down marketing departments in favor of outsourcing as a direct result of the marketing technology boom. They can find themselves moving faster with less employees and more dedicated experts.
What’s the result? In many cases, you’re finding companies content with creating a one-person marketing department. This often results from a compromise between those on a leadership team who vote in favor of a full-fledged marketing department and those who still think marketing shouldn’t be a separate department.
The challenge becomes finding the right person to fill that role. In previous posts, I talked about how a marketing generalist would thrive in this type of environment as long as this person has specific qualities. But the reality is that I have talked to many in this role who have come from a variety of backgrounds, like graphic design, sales and even the agency side. The position is filled, but generally, the person chosen is overwhelmed deciding where and how to start creating that marketing machine.
So, what is to be done? After speaking with and working with a number of representatives of these types of departments, here are my three activities I would do no matter if I’ve been in a one-person department awhile or I am just moving into this role.
Understand the sales process
One of your major roles is to understand, document and manipulate the buyer’s journey. No matter your tenure at your company, you should know two critical sales pieces: (1) the go-to-market strategy and (2) the optimal sales process. The reasons are simple. The more you know how your product or service is sold and what steps your salespeople take, the easier it is to find out where marketing can help fill in the communication gaps, provide relevant content to move the prospect along the process, and use key insights through observing objections and closed, lost accounts to help increase more leads into the funnel.
Living in the sales world and knowing how to affect each part of the marketing funnel is key to being viewed as a sales-forward marketer. Your goal in this area is to reduce the length of the sales cycle. The sooner you can identify and provide ways to shorten the sales cycle along with documenting the “how”, the more you are able to prove your worth in a (typical) sales and operations environment.
Operationalize your marketing activities
As a one-person marketing shop, your goals should be two-fold: predict and process. If you are stretched across other roles, the most common being sales, you will want to put yourself on a schedule as much as possible as it relates to your marketing activities. The biggest issue is that you either fall into your comfort zone (outside of marketing) or it becomes a bottleneck problem where you must focus on sales for a certain time, and once that dies down, you can then focus on marketing. The problem is that you have missed crucial and consistent touchpoints to keep your brand top-of-mind.
My recommendation to you is to organize and prioritize your marketing activities and then place them into your marketing calendar. Once they’re in there, you then have the power to decide what should be outsourced, automated or done internally. Diong this provides peace of mind to know that each week or month, one activity will be completed. Remember, marketing is no good if it’s not in the market!
Utilize your experts at least once a month
Let’s face it, to keep up with the demands of the business, you’re going to need help. And you’re going to WANT help, especially when it comes to creating more content for top of funnel leads or finding production experts that will help you increase your reach. It’s time to incorporate their skill set into your marketing plan as a contributor. And when I say “their” I am talking about Subject Matter Experts, Freelance Experts or Customer Champions willing to spread your name.
Where do you start? When it came to finding experts, I always looked at where my weaknesses were and what type of tactical marketing we needed most. Identify places where they can provide the most impact. For instance, I am not the strongest writer, so finding those content gurus who were willing to learn about the company and industry to help me create impactful content pieces. As it relates to SMEs, find a place for them in your marketing. Their knowledge is gold and you need to identify how to get their thoughts down on actual (or virtual) paper, whether it is periodic white papers, webinars or case studies. They should be your rockstars, but they need to trust that you have your plan together with metrics and goals. Creating your band of marketeers will go a long way in both expanding your marketing footprint and putting the company at ease as to any concerns they have about you as a leader.
Being an army of one can be daunting, but it’s also an opportunity to showcase your talents. Knowing where to start is important, and knowing how to start is key. Don’t be afraid to lean on other marketers, whether it is within your core networking group or local marketing association. What’s not surprising is that many of us have been through similar challenges in our careers and have enough tips and recommendations to help guide you to becoming a successful leader.