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A client I haven’t talked to for 2 years texted me on Monday. She asked me if we can get together for a cup of coffee. I am so glad to hear from Harriet. She was the chief of staff and operations manager for a business unit in a global enterprise.  I helped her create keynote presentations for her general manager, Jeff, and I even helped her build the internal communications process. Once I created several keynote presentations and established the internal communication process, she just ran with it. Through the grapevine, I know that she is doing well.

Jeff promoted her to be the director of marketing several months ago. I sent a short note of congratulations. She was super-excited about the opportunity, even though Harriet doesn’t have marketing experience. However, Jeff was willing to coach Harriet and help her ramp up on sales and marketing. Plus, Harriet is a fast learner. With proper coaching, she should be fine.

Unfortunately, Jeff left the company right after he promoted Harriet. So a new general manager, Tom, was hired to replace Jeff. Tom has solid operations, finance, and product experience, but doesn’t know much about marketing. Tom relies on Harriet to articulate what his marketing team does for the group. However, Harriet, without a strong marketing background or experience, has a hard time articulating her team’s contribution.

She asked me if I can help her on a couple of things:

  1. Articulate her team’s value-add and contributions to Tom
  2. Help her create a 2020 marketing plan

When we met, she was stressed. She told me that Tom is a nice guy, but he also has been asking many questions that she doesn’t know how to answer given she is new to the role. Plus, the marketing team didn’t have a marketing director for many months and the team was under Jeff for a while. Jeff knew the ins and outs, and there was no transition between Jeff and Harriet due to Jeff’s sudden departure.

What does your manager care?

I told Harriet and let’s think about what Tom wants to know. Tom is a product and finance guy, plus, he cares about his revenue goals and customers. He wants to make sure that his customers are happy and that he hits the revenue targets. Therefore, we need to answer three important questions:

  1. How does the marketing team help build the customer base?
  2. How does marketing support the sales team?
  3. How does Harriet’s team help current customers?

It’s not about telling Tom what marketing does on a daily basis. We need to talk about marketing’s impact on new prospects acquisition, its ability to enable the sales team to close deals, and the support of top accounts. Answering these questions will help Tom understand the marketing team’s impact on things that Tom cares about: revenue and customers.

Based on these 3 questions, I helped her build a presentation deck to educate Tom on the marketing team’s contributions.

Articulate your contributions from your manager’s perspective

Given that Tom is new to the role and has no marketing experience, I told her to explain:

  • How does the company as a whole market to Tom’s customers? Harriet needs to explain how corporate marketing works with product marketing and country marketing etc.
  • How does Harriet’s marketing team fit into the overall marketing machine?
  • Then, we move on to explain what does Harriet’s team do to support direct sales?
  • What does the team do to find prospects?
  • What does the team do to educate existing customers about new products or new features of existing products?
  • After that, Harriet can move on to second half of the 2019 plan, focuses, challenges.
  • It ends with initiatives in progress and next steps

I kept emphasizing that she needs to talk about marketing from Tom’s perspective. Tom cares about sales and customers. Well, what can she do to make sure that sales and customers are taken care of?  For sales, it’s about sales training and pass-through content. For customers, it’s about solving customers’ issues, and possibly working closely with customer support. In addition, she needs to think about how to work with subject matter experts to create content that sales and customers need.

Flow your presentation based on the questions you want to address

We spent an hour talking. After the meeting, I offered to put together a deck template so that she can fill in the blanks to clearly articulate her team’s value-add and contributions. I shared my proposed flow with her the next day. When we met again, we moved some slides around and she was able to take the skeleton I built and add relevant information to tell her own story.

Harriet very much wants to make the transition from an operations manager to a marketer. I told her that we can spend several sessions together. I am more than happy to help her make that transition. After all, I made that transition 12 years ago. I love to share what I learned.

If you have challenges articulating your team’s value-add and contributions, reach out. Let’s talk about it.

Again, let’s keep learning from each other.

If you like the podcast, please share with your friends and colleagues, leave a review and comments on iTunes. It will mean a lot to me.

Before you leave, make sure to check out the previous podcast episodes!


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