One of the perks of my job is to travel to interesting places and meet with inspired entrepreneurs, marketing professionals and experts from all walks of life. A recent work trip was to the mesmerizing city of Las Vegas! We were representing our company in a very important industry trade show and conference called Wispapalooza. It wasn’t my first time in Las Vegas nor at the show but I was fortunate to have been selected as a panelist for one of their knowledge sessions – and that was a first. Obviously, my talk was on marketing! Our topic was “5 Things Management Should Ask About Marketing But Don’t”.
Very often we find business leaders and entrepreneurs who don’t come from the marketing world struggling to work with and understand their marketing peers. So I thought this presentation will be a great opportunity for me to leverage my past experience with non-marketing folks at the helm.
My humble attempt was to formulate 5 questions that every CEO should ask their marketing leader or team. To start my presentation, I shared some anecdotes about John Wanamaker and how advertising/marketing used to be a very unaccountable field. There was never enough data to justify or question marketing spend or results. Cut to 2019 and every day we read articles about how marketing should be more data-driven or 10-ways to hold your marketing team accountable and what not!
I joked that it’s hard to get up from bed some mornings as a marketer in today’s data-sensitive world
I also shared that in today’s noisy world out there, we must market smart, not loud. Importantly, customers don’t differentiate marketing from a company. They consider everything as one buying experience. Consequently, entrepreneurs or business leaders need to start thinking themselves as part of the marketing team. In fact, as Mckinsey calls it, marketing is the company.
So without further ado, let’s talk about the 5 Things Management Should Ask About Marketing. Or, as I framed it – 5 Questions Every CEO Should Ask About Marketing
Question 1 – What do we know about our customers?
You’ll be surprised to know that while many businesses ‘think’ they know their customers, they never really do know much about them. I’m talking about in-depth quantitative and qualitative information about their customer segments, demographics, personas and more. Unless your marketing team truly knows the kind of customers that need your product/service, they’re marketing in the dark.
Question 2 –What are we measuring and how are we doing?
Digital marketing works because it’s measurable. Most of today’s marketing tools and channels are. It’s important for your marketing team to focus on the real metrics that matter (sales, conversions, CTR, Cost of acquisition, so on) vs. vanity metrics (website traffic, views, impressions). The ideal way is to identify the key metrics, set realistic milestones and then measure performance against those targets.
Question 3 – Is our marketing myopic or are we building a 360-degree plan?
It’s easy to be distracted by the day-to-day busyness of marketing priorities. It’s dangerous, however, to never experiment with new channels and tools. The field of marketing is changing constantly and a tool/channel that was effective yesterday might not be the same tomorrow. Management needs to know if their marketing team is diversifying into new channels or within chosen channels regularly. For example – if social media is a focus for your company and you use video marketing – maybe diversifying into Linkedin (beyond Facebook/Instagram) might be worthwhile. If you’re doing enough social media, maybe it’s time to start affiliate marketing and so on.
Question 4 – Marketing & Sales – Hands off or standoff?
A company’s leadership should focus attention on how synergized the marketing and sales functions are. This includes answering questions like
- How do we define marketing-qualified leads?
- Where do the marketing function stop and sales function begin?
- Is marketing getting enough top-of-the-funnel leads?
- How is the sales team working through the leads?
And most importantly, give credit where it’s due and remind everyone that there is only one team and one goal.
Question 5 – Us vs. Them (Competition) – How are we doing?
We don’t operate in monopolistic marketplaces (well, mostly). Management should regularly ask for competitive information and updates from the marketing team. This could include digital comparisons – keyword analysis, web traffic, social media ads & strategies or macro comparisons – market share, ad spend, etc.
In summary, it’s a no-brainer that marketing today is a very accountable and results-oriented function. At the same time, a CEO or company’s management should know about the questions to ask so that there’s perfect alignment between the company’s objectives and those of the marketing department.
Would you like to add to the list of 5 things management should ask about marketing? Please share your thoughts with me in the comments or here.