One of the biggest roadblocks to marketing success is a lack of buy-in from non-marketing staff. A more positive way to phrase that is, one of the most important things marketing needs to succeed is…a champion.
I don’t mean a great marketing director or CMO. I mean a great CEO, principal or other senior team member that is in fact, not a marketer at all. As I’ve said numerous times, marketing isn’t about a one-on-one sales relationship and it is never a one person job – even if the marketing department only has one person. Marketing is an organization-wide initiative because every team member represents the brand, the message, the commitment to project delivery, etc.
A champion is crucial.
One big reason is that marketing success often requires process change or “doing things differently.” And doing things differently is hard. When the request or command only comes from marketing, it is sometimes easily set aside by billable employees with other priorities. When that request is powerfully and consistently backed by a champion outside of marketing, it has more weight. This isn’t because “the boss” is now asking people to do something. It’s because staff has the ability to hear why this request is important from someone that has been in their shoes before. It’s easier to get on board when numerous people are saying it’s a good idea, and when those people represent a variety of backgrounds.
Think about some of the simple business processes that we as marketers have to endure. How do we get staff to update their resumes? How do we get PMs to provide project descriptions for the website? How do we get people to review/weigh in on new opportunities (one that is near and dear to my heart thanks to GoNoGoPro)? Like it or not, these are business processes, and ones that have to be addressed somehow. Generally, marketing achieves more success in getting these things done efficiently when it’s not JUST marketing asking for it.
Another reason a champion is so important, is that marketing can’t have a “place at the table” all the time. During those times when impromptu project meetings happen, or the Principals get together but marketing isn’t represented, the champion has the ability to carry the torch and know what marketing can do and how value can be added. All it takes is “This is a great idea, we should let marketing take this report and clean it up a bit,” or any number of other suggestions. The idea is that marketing’s capabilities are being considered, even if the marketing department isn’t in the conversation. Then, obviously it’s key that marketing deliver on those promises.
So, as marketers, what do we do to create a champion?
- Find a senior team member that already has a sound approach to marketing or works with your department often.
- Get them involved more in what your team does. Show them the exciting new thing you just did, even if it isn’t for their department.
- Make sure they’re in the loop when you develop new pieces or processes and get their feedback on how they may or may not be useful.
- Don’t abuse the relationship – a true champion will go to bat for you when you want to make changes for the better, but pick and choose your battles wisely.
It shouldn’t be “us” and “them” when it comes to marketing and billable professionals, and the most successful marketing teams keep that from happening. Having a champion greatly helps bridge the gap between the two sides of the table and often prevents things from getting lost in translation among teams that have very different daily objectives.