If you're like me, your business is a large piece of your identity. I am H&C Inc. in so many ways, I live for the thrill of entrepreneurship, I like to get hungry and chase goals, I even let myself deeply feel the challenges of business; I think it makes me better at my job. One of the challenges this presents, a proverbial wall that it puts up between me and good decision making, is the reality of being too engaged and not being able to see the whole picture. It is no secret that I love what I do, but do I sometimes love this business too much?
Why this matters in marketing
The real truth I am trying to uncover here is that in making strategic growth decisions, setting goals and establishing a firm action plan for what this agency is going to embark upon, am I taking enough into account? Often the answer is no. I am a victim of ownership thinking to that negative area where I am not being as real about the business as, perhaps, I need to be. Sometimes I let myself feel my opinion is the most important opinion (any great business person will tell you that is a bad attitude), I built this so I must know best, but this is a notable career limiting move. I am engaged in a lot of self work to rid myself of this predisposition, and lately, I've found myself embodying some of the characteristics that make my staffs' roles more challenging with our clients.
I suppose the simple truth is that without the perspective of every department at the table, I am not making well rounded choices that serve the organization. There are a lot of ways I could spin this article, I am tempted to dig into the "why" of it all, but I won't. What I, in stead, want to do is discuss the critical nature of keeping marketing and sales aware of your vision and plans as early in the process as possible. I see a lot of value in having those voices at the decision making table. Let me explain.
Marketing's role in transformative change
In any organization that is undergoing change there is a mission and message to be protected, or at the very least considered and adjusted slowly as this organizational shift takes place. The abrupt introduction of a brand new everything is confusing for consumers, it risks the loss of loyalty and it can result in confusion if not managed correctly. The same way that you prepare for major change in every other element of your business, your brand and your visual and narrative identities must slowly move towards this change in preparation of a pivot.
Consider the sunsetting of a product line, one that has wained in performance but is still beloved by a small subset of your client base. A poorly executed transition plan left exclusively to the hands of the manager of their account is never satisfactory. Any product or service you've offered is the potential loyalty marker in your clients; you might not need it but they might love it. This will always be a delicate conversation that should be handled strategically. Everything can be positive but you need a sophisticated communicator to make it so.
In these scenarios it is marketing that will deliver the goods on how to effectively communicate a positive transition plan in place of just introducing a change and hoping for the best. In our best transition plans we have created a strategy for rolling things out, for delivering the right information at the right time and for generating excitement about a highly anticipated change. What I love about this is that it not only mitigates the challenge of a transition but repositions things as a positive move forward; the truth is that businesses aren't making decisions to take steps backwards, so the latter is always the case.
Goal setting with marketing
One of the most important places to engage your marketers is when you are setting organizational goals. Often we think of goals in terms of a revenue objectives, that is good, we can help with that. But beyond those revenue objectives, is your marketing team working to make the same impact / change / opportunities as the balance of your company? Goals are always rolled out internally first, typically trickling from the top, down, and focusing on a build of buy-in from the internal team. What about those stakeholders that are engaged with your company but aren't privy to that internal communique. The wave of change needs to be consistent, ignoring the outward facing impact on an internal shift is naive. People can see it.
When you goal set with your marketing team at the table you are ensuring that the early stage action plans for communication are underway. No company makes change without positive outcomes in mind, marketing should be considering the following and actively seeking opportunity / solutions / creative brilliance immediately following a change-announcement:
- What is the end-game objective of these changes and goals;
- Who will be most impacted by these changes outside of the internal team;
- Why would a client or prospect care about these changes;
The other things that your marketing team can do, especially when you have a qualified team that can read your revenue and tie lines to your marketing ROI, is tell you how much work to reach the end based on your conversion rates, your monthly website traffic, your average lead close percentages, and your average deal length. Engaging marketing takes ideas and makes them realistic objectives.
Engaging your marketers early
In short, engaging your marketing team early in your goal oriented discussions is critical. The most notable benefit is being realistic about what marketing can accomplish within the budget you've allocated, but beyond that, you can also start to see the action plans take shape earlier. Your marketing team is a vital arm of your company, and even more so when you are in growth mode.