Succeed with Marketing Allies
Often, creating an effective marketing initiative within a company can be difficult. Care must be taken to insure that stakeholders in the management group understand and foster the attitudes necessary to support the initial expense and subsequent follow-through of the marketing effort. To do this, marketers must form key alliances within the company. Often, those with whom you need an alliance most are unwilling to spend the time and effort necessary to form that alliance. For reasons ranging from “too busy” to “marketing is a waste of resources,” these key individuals don’t want to come on board. Most of us are so busy in our own little realm of a company, we don’t know what is being done on the other side of the building. It’s in this darkness of miscommunication that budgets get cut and initiatives fail.
Of course, the un-marketed company is just keeping the building warm until they run out of money. It’s a reality that most marketers know too well – as goes marketing, so goes the company. So, for the sake of the company, alliances must be formed and marketing moved forward.
I’m not suggesting that you manipulate or deceive anyone. On the contrary, what I’m suggesting is a greater exposure of what marketing is up to. You have to perform at your best to create allies with those who hold sway within the company. Here are some things you can do to build relationships that will help marketing flourish.
- Identify individuals - Who is most likely to sway management decisions toward a good marketing initiative? Is the organization rooted in sales, finance, technology, etc? Start with a couple individuals and go from there. Just like entering a new market, you want to establish a beachhead first.
- Create a written plan - Good writing is good thinking. It helps you clarify your ideas and create focus on the things that are most important.
- Assess current relationships - Turn the power of marketing research inward to determine the status of your current relationships with this target market. Are they in your court, are they the fence giving occasional lip-service, and are they creating roadblocks to your marketing efforts?
- Know the business - When working with key players in a business, you need to understand the lay of the land within the company. You need to understand where the company wants to go and what obstacles stand in its way. More than just understanding the marketing side of the company, you need to be aware of operational and organizational challenges. Especially learn what issues are most important to the individuals you have targeted.
- Offer to help with key problems - Make sure that the individuals you have targeted understand that the biggest problems (as they perceive them) in the company are important to you.
- Share marketing results - As soon as you see the results of a marketing campaign or feedback on PR efforts, communicate it to those key individuals you are bringing on board.
- Publicize their accomplishments and successes - Stay in touch with what those individuals are doing and market their success to the company. Make sure they get individually recognized for the work they have done.
- Ask for feedback on the marketing plan - Place trust in the individual by asking their opinion on your marketing plan from cover to cover. Share with them all the little nuggets of opportunity and risk that form the foundation of your plan. Help them pay special attention to positioning – the core of your strategy. Ask them where you might need to focus better.
- Invite them to be part of a marketing advisory committee - Getting their input will be invaluable to getting their buy-in to upcoming marketing initiatives. Helping someone see how a plan is developed is good. Helping them be part of that development is better.
- Invite them to participate in marketing activities - Don’t ever let them feel that you are shuffling work off to them. Rather invite them to be part of information gathering, such as observing a focus group, or creative reviews, such as a review of advertising storyboards. Remember to be a gracious and informative tour guide and keep the process moving forward.
- Recheck and revise your written plan - Take time to formally review you plan from time to time. Rewrite it as necessary. Record results both in terms of your relationship with these individuals and its impact on moving marketing initiatives ahead.
As you interact more and more with the individuals you have targeted, you will find that they have likely reached their position in the company because they are good at what they do. They are professionals. Their lack of initial enthusiasm most likely comes from historical interaction with ineffective marketing. You have to be equally professional. You have to show a solid business case for what you intend and then execute with professional attention to details and results.