Digital transformation is upon us. It’s required, non negotiable and a competitive imperative. But does this affect the way senior executives manage, motivate and communicate with their teams? The fundamental values of good leadership and management determine just how effective you really are as a boss. Great bosses consistently inspire employees to perform well and remain loyal. Those qualities play a major role in the long-term success of your business. While these fundamentals remain solid they require some reinterpretation in the digital age.
So, before we start, let’s look at what’s changed in the world your marketers inhabit?
- Buyers are in control like never before – marketers have to listen to their marketplace very carefully and react quickly.
- The “always on” world we live in is here to stay, any device, anytime, anywhere.
- Word of mouth remains a vital channel, but social word of mouth, especially twitter and LinkedIn are forcing marketers to rethink how they influence their target markets.
- Buyers are getting expert at blocking your outbound messages directed at them, marketers have to develop new inbound tactics that attract buyers to them.
- Bosses are demanding that marketing shows them the real ROI of its efforts – and by that I mean its contribution to actual revenue.
- Many marketing managers are struggling to rebuild strategy, one that reflects the brave new online digital world your buyers inhabit.
- The tactical skills of your team are not keeping pace with the new required capabilities, especially around middle of funnel tactics.
- The expert use of technology is becoming central to effective marketing; many don’t have a solid technology road map.
This combination of factors means marketers are facing a period of unprecedented change and many are unsure how to proceed. Strong effective leadership of your marketers has never been more important.
A strong effective team generates genuine competitive advantage, particularly because marketing now has a very direct impact on revenues and margins.
The 7 steps to successful management of the marketing function are:
Clearly articulate the link between the business’ strategy and the role each individual plays. Regular communications within the firm about the direction of the company help staff contextualise why they are being asked to do things and importantly allows them to make smarter self directed decisions and take the initiative. This speeds up decision-making and improves agility.
Linked closely to clear communication is clear measurement. Specific goals “hard code” the translation of strategy to action. In the digital world we inhabit we can easily track the result of activities and campaigns. Now marketing can measure their success. Set your marketers goals for each of the key phases of the funnel.
But there are two acid tests:
- What percentage of marketing leads convert to revenue? Marketing can and should be measured on sales, as the quality of their leads in large part determines the success of the sales team.
- What’s the cost of customer acquisition (COCA)? Managing COCA is a core responsibility of the marketer.
So use your performance review process to set specific, measureable and time-bound KPIs that directly relate to your funnel metrics and COCA.
Being “measured” and being responsible for revenue is a new and often uncomfortable feeling for marketers. But once they understand the importance of these metrics, it will show them that this is how they will get taken seriously in the organisation; a challenge marketers have faced for many years.
The world of digital marketing is evolving extremely fast and keeping pace with the shift , especially in terms of skills for campaign execution is challenging. Marketers have never felt so overwhelmed by the pace of change. Many feel they are losing relevance and are fearful of becoming redundant.
Having a clear map of the team’s current skills and comparing that to your digital marketing skills requirements allows you to identify capability gaps. Now you are faced with two options. Uncover firms who deliver comprehensive inbound, digital skills training or consider outsourcing all, or part, of your marketing operations and focus on maintaining a core skill set internally.
In particular there are three skills areas that need special attention in the transformation to digital, strategic planning, data analytics and technology.
- Analogue, offline, outbound marketing strategy development skills are quite different to digital, online inbound marketing capabilities. Ensure your team understands how to rework strategy in this brave new world.
- Skills in the gathering and analysis of the market data you collect are invaluable in improving your new sales and retaining existing customers.
- The ability to think about, specify and use technology in the marketing department is a modern day “must have”. Ensure you have the required technology “chops” in your team.
Trust your employees. Bosses who believe employees are capable and responsible encourage autonomy while also creating a strong sense of community throughout the firm. With the advent of our “always on” world of work, pervasive internet access and many core business tools being available in the cloud, bosses must transition to managing by results first and foremost.
The classic 9-5 working day, seated at your place of work, is rapidly disappearing. Workers must be given the infrastructure to work anywhere, at anytime and on any device, but most importantly the boss has to learn to trust that their staff will get the job done.
To establish this trust, create a positive working environment with open, honest, two-way communication when it comes to goal setting and measurement.
The marketing department has always been frenetic with multiple deadlines and long to-do lists piling up on their desks. When things are going well in your marketing organisation, let people know – early and often. Recognise productive employees for their contributions. Encourage outstanding, sustained performance by showing your employees how much their efforts are appreciated. Be clear with the team what success looks like and shout that success from the rooftops. Soon your team will pick up what activities generate acknowledgement and praise.
Set high standards for productivity, and professionalism throughout your marketing organisation. When these standards are not met, avoid assigning blame and enlist your employees' input to identify problems, focus attention on possible solutions, and strive to meet and exceed expectations. Studies show that acknowledging the great things your employees do can be more motivational than bonuses!
Consider creating a “sandbox” environment where marketers can experiment with new ideas, try out new tools and test new campaigns. Providing a supportive, creative outlet for marketers is a great way to foster innovative thinking. The potential gains for an organisation adopting this approach are high in terms of customer attraction and retention.
In this time of great transformation of the marketing function, it’s time for senior management to take the reins, set the pace, encourage, support and spur your marketing teams onto greater things. Tremendous rewards await both the staff members and the business.
To find out how your marketing function is currently performing, download our free Marketing Healthcheck below.