What I Learned About Marketing At Work

I studied e-commerce & marketing. I learned about 4Ps – product, price, place & promotion. I have a vague idea on what is marketing and how to craft a “decent” marketing plan. Upon graduation, I thought that I would end up doing what I’ve studied – crafting the 4Ps and growing business.

And this is where it hit me really hard ever since I started working. I was tasked to do telemarketing, cold calling and organizing events. Rinse and repeat.

In this post I’ll be sharing on few misconceptions on marketing I had prior working and after working:

  • Role of Marketing
  • How to Craft Marketing Plan
  • Execution of Marketing Strategy

Role of Marketing

I used to think marketing team should have a decent amount of people, given the strategic task that it needs to accomplish. It was not until later I realized that many things we learned in books are only a list of techniques that you can use, heck, they didn’t tell you how to use it. In addition to that, I simply don’t have the luxury of time to execute everything on that list. I’m always stuck in between executing VS planning & communicating.

Here’s what I’m facing:

1 marketing executive, 7 salesperson. Ratio of 1:7.

There are some companies with a ratio of 1:10/20. I’m not sure how that’ll work out in long term, but it certainly raises this question:

So is marketing depart a support center or cost center with no significant value?

Let re-look into the question in the following scenario:

  • Marketing discuss with Sales team on issues / problems face.
  • Through that process Marketing understands the customer behaviour / pain points and develops buyer persona.
  • Marketing created scripts for telemarketing based on insight above.
  • Marketing develops tailored content (events / emailers / whitepapers / video).
  • Marketing segments database into relevant target audience and send content to them.
  • Marketing generated multiple enquiry and channel them to Sales Team.
  • Sales team go for the hunt.

This is why I love marketing. It allows you to understand the behavior of masses, and once you depicted their behavioral pattern and concerns, you can simply amplify the effect and accelerate sales process.

How continuous engagement can accelerate sales process.
How continuous engagement can accelerate sales process.

 

A common justification you will hear is salespersons are bringing in revenue, and marketing only serves to support them. That is if you only look at “closing sales”. In fact, marketing helps in nurturing, creating on-boarding flow to groom leads from cold to warm. This provides a continuous pool for salesperson to farm.

If there is anyone tells you that sales is the most important of all, just give him a big thumbs up and say “maybe, but you probably won’t have the most efficient way to sell to the masses.”

Marketing and sales are equally important. Both holds different authority in different sales stages. Marketing focuses on lead nurturing and sales focuses on hunting.

How to Craft A Marketing Plan

This is what I used to do back when I was studying:

Target Audience A B
Age 18-24 13-17
Location Kuala Lumpur Selangor
Behaviour Loves Chocolate Loves Walnut

This won’t be effective. Yes, I mean it, the way I used to segment target audience won’t work – simply because I don’t have a single idea on why they like chocolate or walnut. All I know is there are two different segments with two different preference. How is that supposed to help me in crafting my plan?

Always craft your marketing plan on pain points / customer insights / usage such as:

  • Tom like X chocolate as it has a mild taste.
  • Adam loves using Y software because of it saved him a ton of time on managing documents.

Pareto principle a.k.a the 80-20 rule tells us that 80% of your profit comes from the top 20% paying customers, and it’s true. To know this, simply pick your top 20 customers and speak with them, ask them why do they like about the product and how does it help them? If you want to sell to doctors, you have to speak with doctors, as simple as that.

Imagine this, you received a call from an old friend while you were watching a drama. You guys were not really close back then, but you’re curious to why he called you.

You answered the call and you realized that he was trying to sell some random insurance package to you.

You were extremely furious. He didn’t bother to understand how are you doing and kept on pushing a product which he thinks that it’s useful to you. He clearly didn’t know you.

Now put that into marketing perspective, how can one expect their campaigns to be effective if you don’t understand your customers? Put yourself in their shoes, speak with them, understand their pain points. Practice emphatic listening.

Listen to them like you mean it.
Listen to them like you mean it.

 

Through this process of developing buyer persona, you will know where their pain point lies and how can you help them at different stages. The biggest impact of doing this is the consistent message and persuasion that you can build over time. If you’re in a B2B business like me which requires a high touch (6-10) to close sales, determining what to say at specific scenario is extremely crucial. By the way, most of the time you’ll find the questions / concerns raised are repetitive, so why not capitalize on this?

Always build your marketing plan on customer insights / pain points. Determine the pain point and find out the optimal response in different stages.

Execution of Marketing Strategy

This was one of my experience in my previous job:

“Hey James, remember the excel that I sent to you last week? Is it completed now?”

“What excel?”

Oh wow.

I bet you have similar experience, in fact, we all have a fair share of this response. In this section, I’ll be focusing on how to make the strategy happen. Most often than not, execution of marketing strategy failed due to lack of monitoring and progressive update. It is extremely easy to say “Hey I’ve sent you your to-do-list, so why aren’t you working on it?”, there goes the drama & finger pointing session.

Drama in office.
Finger pointing session a.k.a office drama.

To avoid this, getting buy-ins from both superior & colleagues are extremely important. I can’t stress how important it is to get support from both parties. While I’m a one-man marketing team, it doesn’t mean that I don’t need support from others. Advice from engineers, product insights from product managers, customer problems with salesperson. Marketing is not done solely by you alone, you need to make sure everyone is aligned to provide a consistent experience and messaging to customers. So leverage on their expertise.

If I were to break down the implementation process, you’ll see my time spent on various areas:

  • 40% spent on brainstorming & crafting marketing strategy.
  • 40% spent on crafting presentation for marketing strategy (communicating).
  • 20% self execution.

While you hold the marketing plan so dearly to you, you need to understand that your priority may not be their priority. Engineers, designers or product managers have their own KPIs too. So you need to figure a way out to tie everyone onto a common goal, making them to execute their part. Here is what I find out to be effective:

  • Using Excel to illustrate timeline, tasks & project PIC. (I use Trello now, more on that later)
  • Weekly meeting to update on progress (or quick catch up over lunch).
  • Transparent communication: send email recap after discussion (short and simple)

After some time I realized that my Excel timeline are not performing as well as what I expected. Things are not moving, I have 5 different timelines due to iterations and delays, and most important of all – people don’t read the excel (including my direct superior). What’s the point of making something that people don’t read, aware or even care for? That is where I started using Trello. It’s free for use and best part about it is, you can set notification to prompt everyone on their checklist (and everyone will be notified if the whole project is overdue).

Spend your time in getting buy-ins, make the involved parties accountable to their action. Present information a.k.a next steps in bite-size so people know what to do next.

Conclusion

It’s not easy to work as a marketing guy. You will struggle through many different things, be it expectations of campaign or shitload of work. When you’re frustrated with something, take a deep breath, relax for a minute and align your mindset.

While executing a marketing campaign won’t make you a success overnight, it’s your first step up the mountain.

So keep learning, keep adapting, and you will slowly but surely see how the interaction between you and your colleague progresses – from neutral to good.

So what did you learned about marketing after started working?

 

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