Think back to your high school cafeteria. Each table had a different group, the jocks, the popular kids, the drama nerds, the burnouts, the overachievers, the computer nerds.
There’s one person whose responsibility it was to bridge the divide and find commonality: the class president. It’s on them to make sure all of their classmates’ thoughts and opinions are taken into account. This is not an easy job, but it’s an important one.
Your organization is a High School cafeteria
Now, think about your company. You have tech/product/engineers, sales, customer success/client services, operations, finance and, then you, marketing. Guess what? You’re the class president. It may not feel that way always, but your organization’s success rests on your shoulders. #Nopressure
Don’t give me that look. American Marketing Association defines marketing as “the action or business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising.”
The primary role of a class president is working with students to resolve problems and informing the student council of the school’s trials, tribulations and successes.
Your job as a marketer is to the bridge the divide between your company’s departments to tell the story of why a customer needs your product. Marketers have the skill of language and communication that can turn engineer jargon into an easy-to-digest concept.
Pretty much the same, right?
Get others involved
I recently read an interview with George Webster, HP’s EMEA content marketing lead, on NewsCred. One particular quote resonated me with me:
Make a mountain out of every molehill. Find some small success that you’ve had, find a benchmark that you compete on (and, ideally, beat) internally, and then talk about it endlessly. You have to bring people on a journey in an organization of [HP’s] size. Win as many friends as possible, one friend at a time. You can’t have enough supporters.
Immediately, I thought to myself, “YES. Bring people in! Find the successes, no matter how small, and talk about them.”
The class president is nothing without the rest of the class. The marketing team is nothing without its colleagues in other departments.
Class presidents better know their class inside out and not be afraid to ask how x impacts the class. A marketer needs to know their product inside and out and how to communicate solutions. If you can’t talk about your business, its capabilities and its place in the market, your calling likely isn’t marketing.
It’s important to know how and what your company is doing
Let’s take an example from my time at Brafton. On a regular basis, I ask a Director of Marketing of a technology agency I’ve worked with for two years now, “Do you have any new capabilities from your tech team? What objections is sales getting? Is there a service that is doing phenomenal?”
75% of the time he will say, “I am not sure.”
This is a point of frustration: As an account manager at an agency, I am not able to be the class president for this company – but I wish I could be; they create incredible work. I cannot sit with the Computer Science kids and ask what they are working on or what makes something work.
I’ve got some good news for you: You can, and you will. It’s not hard. Start with these steps:
- Ask to sit in on the Product team’s department meeting.
- Buy the Head of Customer Success a coffee and start asking questions.
Everyone loves talking about themselves, and there are a lot of members of your organization that don’t get to talk about their work or their happy customers. Communicate those stories back to your marketing efforts; you won’t regret it.
Never stop learning
My job is to be a marketer helping other marketers. Clients come to me for expertise, solutions, opinions and insight. It is critical to my success to understand marketing as an industry, as well as its trends and use cases.
In addition to marketing, I also make an effort to be informed about the business world as it relates to my clients. How do I do it?
- Listen to an interesting podcast weekly that relates to my industry.
- Subscribe to numerous marketing and general business newsletters.
- Dedicate 1-2 hours a week to informing myself about trends and determine how they fit into my job. Place “Do Not Book” on that calendar and educate yourself.
Here’s your homework: Find a podcast or an interesting article about your industry, Gchat it to your Head of Sales and say, “Hey, let’s talk about how we tackle this problem from a commercial standpoint. I want to get ahead of the game.”
How did that go? Tell us below.