I believe that at the foundation of marketing is internal communication with your company’s key stakeholders. I’ve seen too many CMOs work strictly from their own viewpoint or agenda. Without two-way, meaningful conversations, internal silos begin to emerge and that leads to ineffective marketing efforts.
It’s just too darn expensive to ignore input from others or discourage collaboration. So put your ego, your hesitancy, your agenda, or whatever it is, aside and tap into these information sources. The results will speak for themselves.
Talk Less, Listen More
I want to stress the word listen. Notice I didn’t say talk. You are collecting data, not preaching or delivering a canned message.
When was the last time you visited the training department? Training material is full of how-to information. Spend a little time researching common questions and answers. There’s nothing like seeing your product or services in action during a training session. It can help you craft a meaningful message.
How about product support or customer service? Have you asked them for information? Which FAQ is asked most frequently? Have you communicated the marketing messages to these important customer-facing representatives? If not, you are missing a great source of market intelligence.
Take a Hike
Take a walk over to shipping and receiving. Ask about returned merchandise and common complaints. You may need to adjust your message based on what you hear.
Sales teams and marketing teams have a natural tension. Sales wants better leads. Marketing wants better customer demographics to target with a precise message. Ignore the tension and seek out successful sales people. Ask about customer success stories and specific pain points that lead the customer through the decision process. You might find a great candidate for a customer case study.
Your marketing execution team is a data source that is invaluable to your overall strategy. Make sure each team member is responsible for various types of market research. They can be especially helpful in defining measurement systems and reports.
Want to know one of my best allies? Unlike some marketers who view the accounting department or bookkeeper as the enemy, I find them to be one of the best allies. Keep them in the loop. In my experience, accountants are grateful for a heads up on marketing expenditures and in return, can help red flag concerns with cash flow. They can also provide cost comparisons and answer vendor terms and service questions.
Surprise Is Not Always a Good Thing
When it comes to money, CEOs and CFOs hate surprises. I think we all do. It is critical to establish a pattern of communication to build your reputation as a good steward of the company’s financial assets. You must establish trust and accountability, and create measurement reports.
Why? Because you can only go to the well so often before it runs dry. If you need to ask for more money, make sure you have effectively communicated the objectives and the status along the way, AND make a compelling case for additional investment.
These sources can help you define your initial marketing plan and budget and build in some risk contingencies. Consider it your homework to do some checking in with the different departments listed here. I’d love to hear your results. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.