10 Things Execs Get Wrong about Marketing

There’s marketing...and then there’s “marketing.”

The first is highly scientific, driven by measurable results. Marketing is the practice of clearly communicating value, and measuring that communication’s impact.

The second is a loosely defined concept, with vague metrics that don’t define value-driven actions, all mixed with a heavy dose of skepticism and misperception.

Every organization needs marketing, because every organization needs to communicate. But many executives have seen too much “marketing” to feel comfortable spotting the differences between one and the other.

Here are 10 marketing misconceptions standing in between you and more efficient marketing utilization:

1. Lipstick on a Pig

In a recent episode of Douglas Burdett’s Marketing Book Podcast, Burdett discusses Shift with author Sean Doyle. In the interview, Doyle recounts a conversation with his friend who is also an executive. Doyle (who is a marketer) asked his friend, “What do you think I do?” His friend replied, “You put lipstick on a pig.”

There are two problems with this statement:

First, executives will admit to not knowing everything that marketing does, but they still perceive marketing as little more than the arts and crafts department. Even if they know that marketing is valuable, they can’t put their finger on how or why.

The second problem is that executives need to make sure they don’t see their organization as a pig. It sounds simple, but it’s all too easy to see the warts and not buy into how good your product or service really is. If any part of the organization thinks that they’ve got an ugly, unwieldy mess on their hands, no amount of marketing “lipstick” can fix that.

2. “This is a business problem, not a marketing problem.”

Most companies aren’t in business to see their click-to-open rates go up or to amass more site visits. They have specific goals that will drive more revenue. Marketing is either in lock-step with the KPIs demonstrating progress toward those goals, or marketing is a line item waiting to be cut.

Marketing has to be invested in your business goals—sales quotas, customer retention, speed to market, innovation, and more—as much as the sales, implementation, finance, and product development teams. Click-to-open rates are great when those are the clicks you need to drive highly qualified leads that convert well because you knew exactly what that audience needed to hear. That’s the story marketers need to tell, because it’s the story executives need to hear.

3. “Pay No Attention to the Man behind the Curtain!”

You’ve seen them before: The infomercial-type ads from marketers with larger-than-life personalities, promising huge returns. You know you’re getting sold, but somehow what they say sounds like it makes so much sense. And that’s why the voice in the back of your head tells you it sounds too easy, and you wonder what you’d find if you pulled back the curtain.

The truth is, real marketing is science—it’s psychology, first and foremost, followed very closely by statistics, actuarial analysis, and business strategy. As a science, it has measurable values, quantities, and impacts on the business. Marketers know how to pitch an idea to their external audience, but most forget that their internal executive team is their first audience.

4. Metrics over Real KPIs

Unfortunately, many marketing organizations just sell you metrics. They try to give you impressions and clicks and pass that off as “marketing.” And if shouting were the same as singing, they might be right—but they couldn’t be more different.

Singing and shouting both use lungs, a diaphragm, vocal cords, and even an audience. And even though audiences hear both, only one gets you the attention you want. Practically every marketing organization uses channels and ads and emails...but some are just shouting because they only want impressions and clicks. Others have learned that they can use the same tools to make measured steps toward revenue.

“Executives cannot live under the expectation that marketing is a slot machine or an ATM...”

5. “Did It Work?”

IHOP ran a campaign in June 2018 wherein they (momentarily) rebranded as “IHOb”, pitching the burgers that they have offered for years. Less than two weeks after the “big reveal,” IHOP’s campaign was dubbed a flop, because it didn’t lead to more foot traffic.

There are PR campaigns running by the thousands every single day. IHOP’s campaign rose above everything else, drove earned media, and engaged audiences that haven’t interacted with IHOP in years...in other words, PR was wildly successful at what PR does.

Executives cannot live under the expectation that marketing is a slot machine or an ATM: You don’t get money out just by pushing buttons and pulling levers. In the entire IHOP paid, owned, and earned media launched in May and June 2018, there was not a single form or “buy now” button to be found. So PR could not have directly driven revenue. As a tactic, it did all that it could: get attention. The sales had to come as a follow-up to that tactic. In that, perhaps IHOP failed, but that can only be determined by the goals they set for the campaign.

Theoretically that traffic can trickle down to become paying customers, but you have to know what buttons you’re pushing. IHOP ran with a strategy to get people talking about IHOP, not to get people buying IHOP.

6. “Let’s run a campaign...I expect results in 2 weeks.”

A successful marketing campaign is far bigger than a handful of ads on a given channel.

It’s identifying audiences, rooting out a specific pain point, creating message around that pain, choosing the right mix of channels, writing ads and landing pages and emails around that messaging, designing creative assets, setting up landing pages, building marketing automation workflows, creating triggers in your site analytics, setting up tracking from various channels, setting up on-page tracking for user behavior, testing your analytics system, synchronizing forms to a CRM and automation system, (*gaaaaaasp*) testing the technology, loading ads, setting daily budgets and bids, and then optimizing every single day.

Campaigns take patience. And patience comes from expectations. If people outside of marketing don’t understand what to expect, then we can help our internal stakeholders understand—and value!—everything that goes first into making a campaign launch, and then what goes into making it successful.

7. “We didn’t get enough marketing results this quarter, so shut it down.”

Executives are in a tough spot: There are boards of directors to please. There are are P&L reports. And there’s simply how much money is left in the bank, if things get that far. But even though a business may live in 90-day, Wall-Street-driven intervals, customers may have a very different lifecycle.

Your target audience may take three years to convert if you’re a university selling post-graduate work, or open-enrollment courses. Your audience may need the consensus of half a dozen other people, and it takes four months to close that deal (and that’s nine months after they’ve already been a lead for six months). But the marketing campaign that captured them—and continues to nurture them—isn’t just “working,” it’s doing a great job of getting you ready for the soonest possible close.

8. Marketing over here...Sales over there.

Marketing doesn’t have a job without sales closing business. Sales doesn’t have business to close (or at least not anywhere near the volume) without marketing’s help. So why try to keep the two in separate sandboxes?

The truth is, sales pros can be excellent lead generators when you bring them to conferences and give them a microphone, whether on a stage or at a booth. And marketers can provide very strong assets to help late-stage opportunities close and sign the PO.

We’re all in this together.

9. “We need social media marketing, so we got an intern.”

Selfies do not equal killer marketing, no matter how many likes an intern may get on social media. But of course, if the intern really has the chops to do refined audience targeting and data analytics, with a keen eye for pithy statements that get people to a landing page instead of just hitting “like” and moving on…

Then by all means, hire the intern.

10. “We need to be on all of the social media platforms!”

This notion is dying out, if for no other reason than that the platforms are proliferating faster than brands can keep pace. Social media marketing is about providing value to an audience within a specific niche. It’s not just another way to show more ads—it’s how you show your audience that you’re like them, which means you understand them.

Don’t go chasing platforms. If your social accounts are just another way for your audience to see ads, then you fade into the background like all those radio commercials and banner ads you can’t even remember.

In Review

Executives often have a reason for thinking what they do about marketing. If marketers get too locked up in their own world, they forget to market to the people who need to understand us most.

If you’re looking for a marketing team that really gets it—a marketing team that focuses on building revenue, driving toward key business goals, and answering the questions your CEO or board will ask you next quarter—then it may be time to have a conversation with Rogue.

Is it worth a phone call to find out how to do things differently...or will you get where you’re going by doing exactly what you have been doing for the past 12 months? Contact us today to discuss.