We love a semantic debate in the world of advertising.
Brand v performance
Traditional Media vs Digital Media
Media versus Creative
Broad Reach & Targeting.
I am the first to consider the merits of these; by studying various IPA/WARC reports, supporting customer plans and even torturous self-scrolling through twitter feeds of self-professed experts in their field. The latter especially doubling down on their particular value creation and area of expertise, further exacerbating division of view and dichotomy of course.
But there are problems with this approach.
Firstly, it is very storm in teacup stuff, in real terms has little material impact to client outcomes. One theory is validated by one client, but could be poo-poo’d by another. Secondly, it is all very self flagellating and industry focussed. There is a bubble in the advertising industry in particular, where our own vernacular and sharing of authoritative sources merely serve to outdo. Thirdly, and really most importantly, 99% of the time the clients don’t really care. I am not saying marketing people shouldn’t, we of course have an obligation to keep finger on the pulse of research and industry development and conversation. I am saying be mindful of the position of marketing in the lens of the customer, who ultimately, want your help with growth.
If we are going to pick a dichotomy hill to die on for the small business customers in particular – how about this one…?
…Sales v Marketing
Like Brand & Performance article before, it should always be AND not Vs. But it is THE oldest challenge in the business book. Marketing teams irritated with sales teams’ Avant Garde approach to doctoring their Comms to suit the narrative of the given pitch. Inversely reps irritated with marketing teams and their slower turnaround, lack of closeness to ‘coal face’ and such like.
I say this from the lens of Archmon’s core business, who work with clients in a number of ways, one of which is GTM Market and Sales Planning. Our core Raison D’Etre is to help good clients do the right thing and grow the right way. Marketing is at heart of the delivery, but unintended offshoots need embracing to create a truly connected tissue of action.
In bigger companies, you can almost excuse the disconnect between marketing and sales due to sheer size and departmental or geographical disparities. Not in small business though. From micro businesses through to SME, the value coming through needs alignment on all external touchpoints re what it is. the story is the same. All on the same page or not at all.
What is the answer?
From what I have witnessed, there are 4 key ways to think your way out of this debate – and to create a truly effective system:
1. Sales is a front and centre consideration in proper marketing plan
If marketeers are doing a B2C plan to grow online sales of products for examples, its all about conversion, identifying the correct audiences, driving awareness and ultimately conversion to sale, and a plan will seek to achieve this simple aim. If B2B, you are more likely to have sales teams. You cannot deliver a plan without embracing the reality of your most precious marketing channel. The humans who deliver the final close.
2. Marketing utilise sales feedback for planning
Again, if I was using Facebook remarketing to drive conversion of a product, you can bet I would check the report to shape future media investment decision. The same absolutely should apply to sales team. When doing annual planning, have the meet with the sales team (or CEO/COO if they still have the closing reins held tightly) garner their feedback/ Which messages worked in the room. Remember, not all feedback is quant on a csv download. Human experiences can make the plan better, especially in a sanitised B2B landscape.
3. Sales team actions are planned into the marketing strategy
The biggest trade event is on. The marketing team budget for it. They create the physical materials. They know the sales people are the marketing output, and sales teams should absolutely be KPI’d to make the connected strategy work. If there is an agreed KPI for example, of 10 leads to be sourced in a show, this is in all stakeholder best interest to grow together on. There is often an overlap to PR here too, the stepsister to the other 2 disciplines. E.g. if the CEO is delivering a keynote or fireside chat. It is a chance to both 1. Follow up with delegates as a lead or 2. Share content as part of marketing plan.
4. Marketing’s job is to make sales easier
Oftentimes quoted, never a truer word spoken. The Sales teams and process, however complex, are human bastions of the brand. They, if effectively following their sales process, manifest as human marketing channels, at the ‘lower end of funnel’. They convert interest and intent to paying customers. Their job is the leverage the marketing collateral into a bespoke offering based on client need, and deliver to ultimately cash the cheques the marketing team have written. The best sales performers know the marketing strategy inside out, and have played their part in its success.
Food for thought
So think. Get the sales team at the table earlier. Get their feedback. Treat the qualitative insights as real firepower to make marketing work harder. Then you sales superstars can really thrive on the back of an informed, and sales friendly marketing plan.
Photo: Olga Guryonova