While the average tenure of the CMO has increased from 23 months to 44 months, the marketer’s job has never been more difficult. The modern marketing function is not limited to the marketing department.
Why Marketing Departments Are Different from Others
In many ways, that’s a mind blowing reality. We can’t say that R&D, or manufacturing, or product development, or finance, or human resources are functions that should be handled by multiple departments. But, we have reached a point in the evolution of business where marketing is an enterprise wide responsibility.
There are some people in other functional departments who don’t have a high opinion of marketing. They don’t want to be associated with marketing because their perception is that we marketers manipulate buyers into opening their wallets. As if that’s even possible today…
Therefore, I offer five reasons that no marketing department is big enough to handle the role of marketing, and a few ideas on how to deal with it. Admittedly, some of these reasons overlap with each other.
Five Reasons Your Marketing Department Is Not Big Enough
In most marketing departments, the staff is hired based on their marketing skills and credentials, not on their expertise of the company’s industry. No matter the industry whether it’s health care, manufacturing, software, hardware, professional services, financial services, entertainment, etc., the domain experts have titles like engineer, doctor, nurse, attorney, producer, analyst, designer, developer, auditor, product manager, technician, customer service representative, sales manager, etc.
The lack of domain expertise among the marketing staff is not a new phenomenon. However, in contemporary marketing where creating a relevant experience that is anchored in compelling content and is frequently consumed online, the marketing staff simply doesn’t have the domain expertise to do it effectively, or often enough.
As mentioned above, these factors overlap with each other. If the marketing department doesn’t have the domain expertise, it is obvious that the size of the domain expert pool is much larger among the employee base than it is in the marketing department. The sheer size of the employee base creates both an opportunity and a challenge. The opportunity to engage some employees in content creation and engagement is plentiful and potentially very fruitful.
However, one challenge is a lack of cooperation at the management level or the employee level to participate. Simply stated, without proper buy-in, employee cooperation won’t happen. There are ways to address this challenge, not the least of which is to share examples of similar businesses including competitors, who are effectively engaging their employees in so-called marketing activities through contribution of content and engagement with people in their industry. Be sure to point out the benefit to the employee’s personal brand. Don’t shy away from this benefit.
Domain experts have direct connections to industry peers, some of whom can be influential to an organization’s marketing reach. Consider the reach an engineer might have when h/she writes a technical article that is read by prospective customers. That reach is potentially greater than the marketing department in spite of available advertising platforms and social media channels.
In larger companies where the employee base is sizable, the reach potential is quite attractive. In smaller companies, the marketing team is wise to coach select employees on how to expand their reach through personal branding best practices. Incidentally, such coaching might also be worthwhile in larger companies.
It’s pretty obvious that the technical article authored by an engineer will have more credibility than an article that is either authored by an unidentified person or written by someone in the marketing department. Even if a marketing staffer has domain expertise on a topic, it is usually perceived as more credible when the content is authored by someone whose job isn’t in marketing. Rather, when that person’s job is to “engineer” (in this example), the credibility factor of their content goes up markedly. Sorry if that offends any marketers. It shouldn’t though…
Credibility is to authenticity as peanut butter is to jelly. They just go together.
In the example used here, a technical article authored by an engineer is perceived as authentic. The authenticity factor increases when the article doesn’t have too much marketing polish. I don’t suggest it should have misspellings or poor design. Rather, when an article or video conveys domain expertise over marketing polish, the authenticity is well received. Sometimes, simplicity rules. If it’s too slick, the authenticity factor could be diminished. A well written piece with the proper branding (or video) can go a long way toward content marketing success over an award winning design with mediocre content.
The Marketing Department’s Role in Smaller Companies
So, if the marketing department is too small, just what is the role of the marketing department?
Simply stated, the modern marketing department has two functions. Certainly, one function is to promote and create leads or sales opportunities. Brand building strategies, well placed advertising, demand generation activities all qualify as a form of promotion. The other function, which admittedly is not so widely adopted, is to educate and inspire the rest of their organization to participate in the marketing function. Likewise, the marketing staff should function as journalists by converting domain expert’s knowledge into great content.
Marketing teams that can effectively educate and inspire the employee base to participate and convert knowledge into compelling content can overcome the five reasons their marketing department is not big enough.
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