Marketing management is a dangerous job. Stalled revenue, sudden budget cuts, and political finger pointing are constant threats to even the most talented marketing management professional. Marketing management disasters come in three general forms: natural environmental shocks, self-inflicted man-made crises, and socio-political unrest. To survive, you must be prepared.
In this not-so-tongue-and-cheek blog series, we present 18 Marketing Management Survival Tactics for staving off common marketing management disasters. The first two posts in the series provided 12 tips for surviving marketing management natural disasters and man-made marketing management industrial accidents. This third post in the series provides 6 proven tactics for quelling public unrest.
Marketing managers have many choices. In particular, 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 decided, the real work begins. Without a clear strategy, each marketing manager chooses differently and you end up with marketing anarchy characterized by conflicting priorities, confusion, frustration and inconsistent, sub-optimal marketing results.
Your marketing strategy must be more than a plan. It should include clear cross-functional goals and priorities that facilitate everyday decisions by constraining marketing choices and clarifying marketing tradeoffs. You can’t just do a presentation or send out a memo. Marketing strategy must be baked into your marketing management process to link everyday work to strategic initiatives, keeping work in step with strategy even when priorities change. It should enable every marketing manager to make coherent choices and avoid wasting time on random acts of marketing.
Improve alignment and integration by linking campaigns and projects to strategy. Publish a real-time marketing roadmap that presents your marketing plan by strategic initiatives, such as “increase awareness”, “drive new business” and “build loyalty”.
Task lists are great for getting things done, but they don’t help you decide if you are doing the right things in the first place. Don’t just make a list of marketing projects. Create roadmaps, calendars, campaign plans and charts by market segment, channel, product, buyer personae, strategic initiative, customer value, and other critical marketing dimensions to see if your marketing work and results are properly balanced, prioritized and integrated.
Everybody wants something from marketing. Sales wants leads. Support wants a community website. The CFO wants more revenue with less budget. And, every CEO has a pet marketing project. Keeping stakeholders happy, particularly when they have conflicting priorities, is a never ending challenge of every marketing department. If you consistently miss stakeholder expectations, you’ll find yourself facing a frustrated and angry mob.
>You can’t please all of the people all of the time, but you can build buy-in and co-opt your critics. The best approach to quashing marketing stakeholder problems is to involve stakeholders in the solution. First and foremost, keep stakeholders apprised of marketing plans and performance. Marketing blackouts encourage stakeholder riots. Proactively solicit feedback on marketing plans and source suggestions for future marketing programs. Collaborate directly on important marketing projects, so your stakeholders are as committed to success and own the results as much as you.
The best way to avoid angry mobs is to set the right expectations in the first place. Communicate key marketing strategies, priorities, plans and decisions broadly to all interested stakeholders on a regular basis.
If you like these marketing management survival tactics,
then check out the complete Marketing Manager’s Survival Kit and get all 18 tactics.
People tend to take care of their own. If you want real stakeholder buy-in to your marketing plans, then you should include them in your planning process. In fact, you should collaborate with stakeholders on the actual work to tap into their ideas and perspectives. When you co-opt your critics, they don’t just buy into your plans, they co-own the results.
Rapid organizational changes can wreak havoc on marketing productivity. High growth, corporate reorganizations, acquisitions and sudden turnover can create scenarios where the marketing department is full of new, inexperienced and potentially unmotivated marketing managers. Even the most senior marketing managers can freeze up while coming up to speed on entirely new surroundings. Welcome to the marketing zombie apocalypse, where the blind lead the blind and nothing gets done except trying to keep yourself from being eaten alive.
When ramping new or inexperienced marketing team members, it’s best to be more explicit about what, when and where things need to get done. While experienced, senior marketing managers are proficient team leaders, more junior team members need to be led. They are also less likely to raise the alarm when they are stuck or overloaded, and have no internal benchmark for good performance. Priorities and tasks should not only be explicit, they should be visible to the entire team, so marketing managers can detect and resolve individual problems before they impact other team members and marketing deliverables.
It’s hard to tell if you are doing great if you don’t know what great looks like. When everyone has a clear picture of superior marketing performance, then it easy to tell when marketing managers are living up to their true marketing potential.
When tackling an entirely unfamiliar project, even the most experienced marketing managers appreciate a little detailed instruction. Also, unmotivated and underperforming staff need to realize that they are bringing down the entire team. The best way to handle both of these difficult marketing management situations is to define specific task plans and monitor progress until the suffering individuals are back up to top performance.