We live in a time of tremendous innovation, massive disruption, and constant change. Our customers are rewriting the rules on how they engage with brands, media, content, and each other. As marketers, we need to rethink the way we reach our target audience. It’s time for marketing that really matters.
But often our companies, executives, and teams lack the vision, skills, or understanding of how to address the changing business landscape and green-light the right projects.
These times call for a new leader to emerge — one with the right vision to focus on delivering amazing customer experiences, and one with the leadership skills to inspire executives and internal teams to get on board.
Equally important, we need leaders who know how to communicate the impact of our marketing on customers and the business value it brings to our company.
It’s time for marketing that matters. This starts with understanding where we are today:
- CEOs are unhappy with the performance of their marketing teams.
- CMOs are feeling the pressure to deliver ROI.
- Employee satisfaction surveys show an overall decline in engagement.
- Customer engagement with marketing campaigns is falling across nearly every channel.
The boss isn’t happy. Managers aren’t happy. Employees aren’t happy. Customers aren’t happy. But why?
In my own client interviews, external surveys, and research, I’ve found that the majority of CEOs are expecting more ROI from marketing, in addition to demanding marketing campaigns that have questionable, if any, business value.
While putting your logo on a bus, a stadium, or a golfer’s hat sounds like fun, most campaigns fail because the content we create simply misses the mark.
As employees, we’re tired of being told what to do and coming up with new ideas that executives won’t approve. And as customers, we’re punishing the brands that interrupt our media consumption with advertising we don’t want.
B-to-B buyers tell me they have a real need for information from brands to support the buying process. But too often they get promotional sales messages and content they aren’t ready for.
The bottom line: marketing needs to change, and change fast.
Here are four steps marketing leaders can take right now to drive the change they need for their company, their career, and their customers.
1. Push back: Marketing leaders need to start driving change by pushing back on bad ideas that don’t deliver real value and focusing on creating marketing that matters to us, our buyers, and the companies we work for. Pushing back doesn’t have to be an act of disobedience. We just need the courage to stop doing the things that don’t work.
2. Have a buyer-centric vision: While the traditional org chart still exists at most organizations, it often fails to take into account the customer.
Even if your company mission isn’t customer-centric (“we are the leading provider of widgets”), your marketing vision must be. And there is one simple formula to get there:
Become a sought-after destination for which topic,
In order to deliver what customer value or impact.
American Express OPEN Forum, started with this:
Help small business owners grow.
And their site quickly became the company’s largest source of new leads and its most effective marketing channel. That vision has since evolved to serve a larger audience in bigger ways:
Insights, inspirations, and connections to help your business.
3. Make your team the hero of your story: As a marketing leader focused on driving change and creating marketing that really matters, be sure to make your team the hero of your story. And because of their buyer-centric vision, the hero of their story is the customer. But you need to activate that latent potential.
According to LinkedIn, the combined connections of employees on the LinkedIn platform is 10 times larger than any company’s followers. And 3 percent of company employees sharing branded content generate 30 percent of the views and clicks on that content.
LinkedIn Elevate, social selling, and other programs can dramatically increase the reach of your content, grow your company’s social presence, and improve the effectiveness of marketing programs without spending a single dollar on paid media.
But you have to create content your employees want to share. You might even ask them to help you. The trick is to explain what’s in it for them: creating or sharing content can help them build more connections, establish relationships with other leaders in your industry, and grow their personal brand so they can achieve happiness in their careers.
4. Measure the impact of marketing that matters: The final piece of the puzzle is communicating the value of your marketing activities. For many of the organizations I work with, that means regularly reviewing the performance of marketing campaigns and content and re-investing budget into programs that deliver real return.
There is one metric that can drive the kind of change marketing needs to really matter: subscribers!
If your marketing is so good that people will subscribe to it, you will dramatically force your organization to focus on customer value (vision).
Your employees will see the value in voluntarily sharing great content, providing added meaning to their roles within the organization. And your customers will become more engaged, leading to increased sales.
Subscribers also have value because email marketing converts and retains buyers at a higher rate than any other type of marketing activity.
The time to change is now. You are the marketing leader your company needs. So push back, put your customer at the center of your org chart, elevate your fellow employees, and show greater marketing impact to your company.
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