A client I haven’t talked to for 2 years texted me on Monday. Harriet reached out and asked me if I could help her to articulate her marketing team’s value and contributions to her boss. I was puzzled by her request. The marketing team with that product group is not a new team and her boss knows the ins and outs of sales and marketing. Why does she need my help? It turns out that her boss of 5 years, Jeff, left the company for a new opportunity. Her NEW boss, Tom, is a product and operations guy with no sales and marketing experience. She needs help to articulate marketing’s value-add and so that the new general manager understands her team’s impact on sales and customers.

So, some background…

Although Harriet has no marketing background, she got promoted from an operations manager to the director of marketing. The original plan was that Jeff would take Harriet under his wing and train her, teaching her the ins and outs of marketing, especially product marketing. Harriet is a fast learner. With proper coaching, she should be fine.  Sadly, Jeff took on a different job right after he promoted her. Since Tom has no sales and marketing experience, he relies on Harriet to help him understand the product marketing landscape which Harriet is ramping up herself.

What does the new general manager want to know?

When I met with Harriet, she was a bit stressed. She told me that she explained to Tom what marketing does, but he didn’t seem to get it. Every time she explains, Tom ends up with more questions that Harriet has no answer for. I told Harriet to sit back and think about what Tom cares to know at this time.

We know that Tom is a product, finance, and operations guy. We also know that he has a revenue target that he needs to hit and a list of customers that he needs to either appeal to or acquire. He wants to make sure that his customers are happy and that he hits the revenue targets. It’s not about telling him what marketing does.

Let’s answer three important questions:

  1. How does Harriet’s marketing team help build the customer base?
  2. How does the team support the sales force?
  3. How does the team help current customers, especially on cross-sell and up-sell?

By answering these questions, she can 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 contribution.

A high-level flow to help the manager understand marketing’s value-add

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

  • How do customers buy from the company? What is the purchase journey? It’s important for Tom to get a sense of the customer purchase journey.
  • Then, let’s explain how the company, as a whole, markets to Tom’s customers? Harriet needs to explain how corporate marketing works with product marketing and country marketing etc. This is a global company with many marketing functions. It’s important to help Tom understand which team does what marketing functions.
  • Next, Harriet needs to explain how her own marketing team fits into the overall marketing machine. It gives Tom a sense of how his marketing team is working closely with other marketing functions, and not in silos.
  • Once we paint the high-level picture, then Harriet can proceed to explain what other functions her team does, such as supporting direct sales, finding new prospects, and working with existing customers.
  • After that, Harriet can move on to 1H’2019 highlights and 2H’2019 plans.
  • In addition, she should not be shy about talking about her challenges but make it very clear what they are and what she is doing to tackle them.
  • It ends with initiatives in progress and next steps

Explain marketing’s impact from management’s perspective

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.

We spent one whole 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.

To learn more about content marketing in B2B, and management check out one of my previous posts How to Pilot a Content Marketing Initiative in a Traditional Marketing Organization.


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