If you’re like many of our clients, you may not have a robust marketing team at your disposal — you might not have a marketing team at all. If this describes you, you may be unsure of how to fund and support marketing initiatives, which leaves you “crawling” into marketing instead of running at it full force.
In my experience, and through countless conversations with a variety of companies, I’ve seen marketing devalued and misunderstood. Let's look at some of the misconceptions and hesitations that keep companies from unlocking the true value of marketing.
Why is Marketing Misunderstood?
Here are some of the reasons that I think marketing has been misrepresented and, ultimately, underfunded for many companies:
Marketing seems to be a cost center.
In the absence of sophisticated attribution models (which is a problem for most marketers), marketing can seem like a giant money-suck. Activities such as content or collateral development, messaging, analytics, and others contribute significantly to branding, actionable insights, and sales support — but are nearly impossible to quantify.
Marketing is just activity.
If marketing is not tied directly to company objectives, not just sales-related goals, it will be activity without purpose.
Marketing and sales aren't coordinated.
This is dangerous. I’ve been in this situation and it causes toxicity internally. Lots of finger-pointing. Worst of all, the marketing department becomes an island, constantly fighting for budget, support and resources. Mutual respect and objectives are the glue that keep sales and marketing moving in harmony in the same direction.
Metrics are only tied to sales goals.
There’s more to success than just ROI, deals won, revenue and other bottom-of-the-funnel KPIs. Customers won't buy if they don't know you exist. Marketers measure engagement, reach, click-throughs, downloads. These metrics prove that you are moving potential customers further into the buying cycle — and that is essential.
So we all recognize these problems, but what’s the solution? I think it’s important to find some common ground on what marketing is supposed to do, not just what it is. What is marketing’s purpose and function?
What is Marketing's Real Purpose?
Generally speaking, I believe that marketing is responsible for the buyer’s journey but not the destination. This four-stage process explains marketing’s function within the buyer journey:
1. Define and get the attention of your target market.
This stage requires of lots of work around persona development, marketectures, messaging, positioning, channel development, etc. But, in a nutshell, this stage of marketing is about getting attention and having the right message for the right person at the right time.
2. Give potential customers enough context and information to pull them further in the decision-making funnel.
People don’t want a drill bit, they want a hole. In other words, customers are looking for solutions. They have a problem and will spend time learning how best to fix it. The role of marketing here is to provide articles, interviews, videos, white papers, and any number of resources to translate how your solution best fixes their problem and why.
3. Give them the next “micro-yes” in their buying journey.
I first heard this term from Dr. Clint McLaughlin of MecLabs. He’s sees the buyer’s journey (the sales funnel) as a series of small steps, one building off another. Read More, Download Now, Learn How, Watch the Video — every call to action a micro-yes indicating “I’m still interested.”
4. Create a definitive handshake between marketing and sales.
Marketing typically isn’t responsible for closing deals. That’s a sales function. But somewhere in the buyer journey (stages 1-3), a potential customer is sufficiently armed with information about whether or not to buy. More and more, buyers are making decision on their own — without a human involved. But there is a point where a sales person can take the baton from marketing and help facilitate that decision. That point of transition can be different company to company. The important part is to define it, agree to it, and make it a repeatable process.
I may not make many friends with my marketing colleagues here because, as they might argue, “Marketing is so much more than this!” I agree. It’s very nuanced. But if it’s so complicated that it becomes esoteric then the role marketing plays in meeting company objectives becomes very fuzzy. And you, as a marketer, run the risk of being devalued.
The four stages above explicitly address all the pain points I asserted earlier as reasons that people are hesitant to invest in marketing. If marketing is fulfilling its purpose, activity becomes visible, quantifiable results meet company objectives, and sales marketing are both hitting on all cylinders. Then you’ll want to spend money on marketing instead of feeling like you need to.
If you want to learn more about the buyer’s journey, download our white paper on the three stages of buyer trust or reach out using our contact form. We don’t charge for conversations, clarifications, discovery calls, or just getting to know one another — and we're always eager to meet new people in the B2B technology world.