After a recent study of marketing recruitment adverts I have come to the conclusion that many businesses still don't place as much value on marketing as they do sales.
Marketing professionals are expected to be knowledgeable in a variety of disciplines, such as copywriting, SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and ABM (Account Based Marketing). Deploying these disciplines and other marketing strategies can significantly alter the direction and success of a company, yet it carries no real weight that translates into salary. The level of expectation is very high in terms of tasks required, yet the salary and age expectation is more like asking a boy to do a man's job (or a girl a woman's job!); it often seems as if companies want to pay the salary of a graduate, but expect the graduate to have 20 year's experience! As a consequence, the salaries are often woefully low, which can mean that the company will be paying peanuts and getting (young) monkeys!
There is also very little genuine alignment between marketing and sales, which can be seen in the various job descriptions. Businesses seem to get to a point where they become aware of the marketing activities they need to undertake, they then draft a job description, probably assisted by a recruitment company, however when it comes to realising how much time it takes to fulfill all the tasks - and to get results - it often comes as a surprise.
Instant Results Required
It seems that many business owners are unaware of how long it takes for marketing activities, whatever they may be, to have a positive effect on their business and the bottom line. As a result they are reluctant to invest in the long term as they want more instant results. Business owners often see only the end result of all the marketing effort, i.e. the sale, which then makes it appear as if it is the selling of a product face-to-face that brings in the deal - not the slow burn of marketing.
Put simply marketing has four steps:
- Creation of the plan
- Execution of the plan
- Follow-up of the results of the plan
- Modification of plan
Only after these four steps are complete, and leads are generated, can the process be handed over to sales. However, this process can take months, or even years.
I do see an element of disdain towards the recruitment of marketing professionals. The perceived value of a sale rests, almost exclusively, on the sales person who is making the money. However, viewed from a different perspective you might be willing to concede that the sale is the visible tip of the iceberg and the marketing effort is submerged and is not visible.
To Consult or not to Consult...
If you know some of my background you will know that I've worked at both ends of the spectrum. I started my career in retail, then sold direct, and then ran my own technology company for a number of years (take a listen to our podcast). And then, after years of sales experience, I made the commitment to helping businesses develop their marketing function and to increasing their income with the least amount of effort possible.
I realised that today's businesses, and the marketing professionals within them, needed to understand the vast array of marketing software and applications and how they must dovetail together to create a mechanism that makes money. The professionals must also understand people and personas so that any message, automated or not, reaches the right person at the right time. Often, however the professionals are so busy doing their jobs, that they don't have an overall view of the marketing function and the impact (or not) the marketing is having on the business. Using a consultant can often be a way of getting that necessary objective view to ensure that marketing activities are hitting the targets and are achieving results.
A word of caution however, not all marketing consultants are the same. I read an article recently by Neil Patel, the tech whizz who created kissmetrics, Crazy Egg and Hello Bar. The title of his article was "why you shouldn't hire a marketing consultant". As Neil says, be sure that your business idea is sound before bringing in a consultant, as a poor idea, no matter how well it is marketed, will not generate long term, sustainable income. However, an unscrupulous consultant will take your money regardless of whether your idea is good or not.
An Orchestra within an Orchestra
When it comes to your marketing team and how they function, I think the best illustration is of an orchestra within an orchestra; the managing director has his/her own orchestra to conduct and marketing have theirs.
As a starting point, and the list is not exhaustive, below are the activities which come under the heading 'Marketing'. So just in case you were thinking of getting a school leaver to do the job, you might want to think again. The skills and the experience needed to fulfil these functions are varied, so it would even be unwise to assume that a Marketing Manager will have everything that it takes to effectively market your business.
What Marketing teams need to know
Your marketing team need the time and opportunity to develop and execute a long term plan for your business and to see the results of that plan. It is possible that, in order to fully execute the plan and to keep on the right track, they need the additional external support of a consultant. However, should you choose to engage a consultant, be wary of those who will take your watch and tell you the time. A good consultant should not only have experience in or, at very least, knowledge of the disciplines above, they should also be able to advise on developing your business so it makes more money and not just talk about branding, pretty graphics and so-called high-level issues.
Tom Cruise got it right when he said in the film Jerry Maguire "Show me the money!" A consultant must be able to show a clear return-on-investment; if they can't then don't engage them. Moreover, they should be able to work with your own marketing team, whatever level of experience your team have. Your team are the foundation upon which your business will grow and develop; you can expect great things but remember, their efforts may take a little longer to bear fruit.
Take a look at our approach to Digital Selling and evaluate how we can transform your marketing and business.