Most major business schools offer degrees in marketing management. These programs teach aspiring marketing managers all the fundamentals of marketing, unfortunately they teach very little about marketing management. Unless you expect to spend your entire marketing career as a department of one, then there are some very important marketing management lessons you probably missed in business school.
This is the last post in a Markodojo marketing management blog series on marketing management process. Earlier posts in the series focused on common marketing management pitfalls, the importance of marketing leverage in driving sustainable revenue growth and organizational options for scaling marketing teams. This final post provides a leg up for marketing managers that want to accelerate their careers with seven marketing management lessons that usually take many years of experience to learn.
The fundamental goal of marketing is to drive revenue growth by increasing customer value. Every single job in marketing contributes to this goal. If it does not, then the job should not exist in marketing. As a marketing manager, you are by definition accountable for revenue, so you should always act like it. If you are a marketing manager at a non-profit, then you can take the equivalent stand of being accountable for customer value. Every decision you make should be examined from the perspective of customer value and revenue impact. Every budget line item you propose should contribute to this goal. And, don’t shy away from revenue-based compensation; it demonstrates your accountability.
Business schools teach that marketing provides leadership grounded in a deep understanding of customers. In the real world, marketing is an isolated corporate function that can easily lose touch with the customers it serves. Whether you are crafting a new message, building a better product or justifying your marketing budget to the CEO, your credibility always comes from the customer. The more you can back your opinions and your numbers with customer opinions and customer numbers, the more compelling your business case. The corollary to this lesson is that you should include your customers in every stage of the marketing management process: generating new marketing ideas, collaborating on marketing programs, and providing feedback on marketing results.
Anyone can spend money; successful marketing managers make money. While the primary goal of marketing is revenue growth, the primary goal of marketing management is to increase marketing leverage: revenue growth at the highest possible marketing ROI. The more marketing leverage marketing managers create, the more money a business has to invest in new products, new channels, and new markets. Set yourself on an endless quest for marketing leverage that uncovers new sources of revenue growth, innovates to optimize current marketing programs, and increases marketing production efficiency at scale.
Marketing managers live lives of contradiction. What matters more: a market survey percentage point or the unique insight of a single customer? Clicks-through rates or brand loyalty? Despite the recent explosion of online analytics, marketing reluctantly remains equal parts art and science, quality and quantity. To succeed in marketing management, you must use both sides of your brain. Only your creative side will drive marketing innovation, while only your analytical side can optimize and scale marketing programs for maximum marketing leverage.
Marketing managers have too many choices. A sales manager must close deals. A manufacturing manager must build a product. In contrast, marketing managers must decide what they are going to do before they can plan how to do it. Should you improve your message or drive more traffic? Does your product need more capability or higher quality? Once you decide, then the real work begins. If no one decides, nothing happens. Your marketing strategy must be more than a plan. It must provide a framework for everyday marketing management decisions by constraining marketing choices and clarifying marketing tradeoffs. Strategic alignment starts at the top, but you can’t just do a presentation or send out a memo. Marketing strategy must be baked into your marketing management process to enable every marketing manager to make better marketing choices every day.
It takes an experienced marketing manager to shape a raw idea into a great marketing program. However, you don’t need to come up with every cool marketing idea yourself. Successful marketing managers create an environment where creativity thrives, and then they channel that creativity into the marketing management process. The best ideas are likely to come from your customers, your sales team, industry influencers, and so forth. Maximize your chances of finding the absolute best marketing ideas by casting the broadest possible net. Focus your marketing management energy on finding and refining ideas into marketing mix improvements that drive revenue growth.
The marketing manager’s quest for marketing leverage never ends. Marketing managers create leverage by adding layer after layer of repeatable, revenue generating marketing programs. If you don’t manage the marketing management process and simply jump from one marketing campaign to the next, your revenue will be flat and you will have no marketing leverage. Successful marketing managers don’t just market, they manage. Create a marketing innovation engine that continually sources and optimizes new marketing ideas. Increase production efficiency as marketing programs mature. Define your core marketing management processes, codify best practices, and deploy marketing management software and systems that enable break-out marketing teams to drive sustainable growth.