Business is a team effort, and no department reaches its full potential without effective cross-functional collaboration. Marketing has a critical role in building and nurturing new relationships with customers and prospects, while also holding responsibility for activities some stakeholders may perceive as a cost center. In today’s economic environment, where doing more with less has never before been more urgent, it’s critical for marketing leaders to collaborate, share strategies, measure results and continually adapt their approach over time. Below are four strategies for elevating confidence in the marketing department.
1. Collaborate with other departments, especially Sales. Marketing should collaborate with Sales to understand how Marketing can support and complement the Sales process. Marketing should be as responsive to Sales support needs as possible, while balancing its tactical support and strategic planning roles. Although it may take some effort to find balance initially, the benefits of collaborating with and supporting Sales are significant. Sales can help Marketing to build a better awareness of competitive activity and customer needs in the field, while Marketing can share insights to help shorten the sales cycle. Finally, collaboration with Sales links Marketing’s contributions directly to Sales activity and revenue generation, which helps to quantify Marketing’s organizational impact and value.
2. Do what you say you’re going to do. Marketing professionals tend to be flexible and comfortable with a high degree of ambiguity, exhibiting a preference for Intuition over Sensing on the MBTI personality profile. Marketing needs to be mindful that not all tribes (or functional groups) are created alike. Marketers can help to build confidence in the marketing function by outlining concrete goals and timetables for projects and following through with tasks in sequence, especially when collaborating on projects with Operations and Engineering. Marketing should also be mindful that cancelling appointments with little advance notice could erode credibility with other departments and instead strive to keep all appointments and commitments as scheduled.
3. Align marketing strategies and tactics with corporate goals and don’t take on too much: Instead, do fewer important things really well. As marketers seek to balance their tactical and strategic marketing roles, it is important not to take on so many activities that execution suffers, especially against the most strategic priorities. Aligning marketing strategies and tactics directly with corporate goals can help to raise confidence in the marketing function because this creates a visible bridge between marketing initiatives and strategic priorities.
4. Communicate successes in terms of financial results and impact. With the ongoing proliferation of new marketing technologies and resources, the marketing mix is continually evolving while the complexity of measuring marketing’s return on investment across a variety of emerging new channels grows. CRM and marketing automation technologies such as marketing resource management systems can help to quantify the impact and ROI of marketing activities. McKinsey & Co. also suggests using big data analytics to help develop marketing decision modeling tools that can connect marketing initiatives to tangible business results. Their advice directly: “Start by formulating hypotheses about the impact of changes to your marketing mix and then seek analytical evidence.”
Elevating confidence in the marketing department can be driven by four behaviors that collectively build trust and tie marketing activities to financial return on investment. Collaborating with Sales can improve the connection between marketing efforts and financial results, while aligning marketing strategies and tactics with corporate goals ensures visibility for marketing’s support of strategies priorities. Being consistent with follow through can help to build the trust and support of other cross-functional leaders in Engineering and Operations groups, for example, who favor concrete steps over abstract concepts. This advice also applies to marketing measurement. Successes should be communicated in terms of financial results and impact, while CRM and marketing resource management systems can help to quantify returns for various activities in the marketing mix.
Does your Marketing department assist with the Sales process? Stay tuned for our next Marketing Organizational Leadership blog discussing strategies for Marketing and Sales collaboration through a resource-driven sales process.