Welcome to the inaugural “5 Problems & 5 Solutions” series from The Upward Spiral Group. In this series, we aim to identify five common problems we see entrepreneurs and businesses struggling with and offer five simple solutions to help quickly resolve the problems. The focus topic for this installment is appropriately focused on Marketing, as we constantly see businesses making the same mistakes over and over again. These mistakes are extremely costly as they limit the revenue generation potential of the business, create a divide between the Sales & Marketing departments, hurt the brand’s image, and holds the company hostage from what it can be.
The 5 Problems with Marketing
- Marketing & Sales Exist in Silos
- Too Much Blatant Self-Promotion
- Why Your Company Exists
- You’re Creating False Value
- Your Company Is Not the Hero
Problem 1 – Marketing & Sales Exist in Silos
One of the most common problems businesses create for themselves is that they treat Marketing and Sales as if they’re two completely disconnected departments. Marketing goes about their own business, as does Sales, and their respective strategies rarely seem to come together in any meaningful way. Make no mistake, they are both putting forth significant effort, but their efforts are not aligned towards the same goals. This kind of perspective often leads to frustrated professionals and leaders who shift blame, polarizing teams. This kind of mindset is not what you want from the two departments who are responsible for generating revenue for your organization.
Solution 1 – Align Marketing & Sales Towards the Same Goal | Revenue Generation
This Sales & Marketing problem can be fixed with alignment of goals and perspective.
Sales & Marketing | Alignment of Goals
As the leader of the organization, you need to make it abundantly clear that Marketing and Sales share the same goals. The primary objective for each department is to generate revenue. Yes, this is commonly known to be true for Sales, but this is equally true for Marketing. The best way ensure mutual alignment towards revenue generation as the primary objective is to recalibrate the perspective of each team, and for that, we turn to baseball.
Sales & Marketing | Recalibrating Perspective
The best way to recalibrate the perspective of Sales and Marketing is not to simply tell them they’re on the same team. If you’re going to do that, then why don’t you just buy them some generic motivational office poster with a cat hanging from a tree or some shit like that, clock out early, grab your oxygen tank, and head to the casino to hit up the slots? I digress…
An analogy that I’ve used many times to help get the point across can be found in the pitching rotation of a baseball team. The customer buying experience for business-to-business organizations can often be long, and this is not too dissimilar to a 9-inning baseball game. Marketing and Sales should each think of themselves as pitchers on the same team working the customer towards a close. Marketing is the starting pitcher who pitches innings one through five of the customer buying process. Sales gets the ball in inning six, and they proceed to work the late innings of the game. Then in Mariano Rivera-like fashion, Sales brings the heat for the proverbial “close,” where they promptly get carried off on everyone’s shoulders. No matter who pitches, no matter how many innings they play, everyone on the team wins.
Problem 2 – Overload of Blatant Self-Promotion
Most Marketing departments pump out content that looks great, has solid copy, and suits its purpose. The only problem is that these pieces of content are angled towards gratuitous self-promotion of the company’s products and services. The exact same thing could be said of events like webinars, as well. While you need to promote your company’s products and services, you should be a bit more judicious with content or events that are overtly geared towards self-promotion. You need to space these pieces of content out and add content and initiatives that are purely built to provide value to the customers in your market.
Solution 2 – 70/30 Value to Self-Promotion
Producing valuable content is a surefire way to win the trust and respect of your prospects and start them down the path of becoming happy paying customers. While your self-promoting pieces are valuable, pieces that are purposely built to provide value in the form of knowledge, insights, polls, and experience are what your prospects want. If they see value in your content, then they’ll see value in your product. A ratio of 70/30 is a solid guide to shoot for in content creation, with 70% of the content you create being geared towards adding pure value, and the remaining 30% of content you create being of the self-promoting variety.
Nobody likes the “hard sell,” so don’t do this with your marketing content.
Problem 3 – Why Does Your Company Exist
If you ask most people in your company why the company exists, you’re likely to get a myriad of answers. I’m not talking “mission statements” here; I’m talking about fundamentals. If your team can’t consistently answer the question with the uniformity of an Olympic synchronized swimming team, then you’ve got a problem, and it’s Marketing’s job to solve it.
Solution 3 – Answer This Question –
You need clarity of purpose and here is the one simple question that will give it to you.
“What’s wrong with the world that your company needs to exist?”
That’s the question all employees in your company need to answer. Hell, that’s the question you need to answer. If you can’t properly articulate that then go on a walkabout, take some ayahuasca , go to Burning Man, or all of the above, and figure that question out.
Problem 4 – Creating False Value
Too many Marketing departments look to shallow vanity metrics to prove their worth, things like impressions, clicks, web-traffic, etc. All of these are important, but if they’re not paired with a meaningful business objective (see “problem 1” above about revenue generation) then who cares? Additionally, things like email signatures, PowerPoint templates, and color schemes that Marketing lords over do in fact matter, but Marketing must be more than this if you want to generate some serious revenue. It is absolutely critical that Marketing offers up more value than this, especially if you want your business to survive a crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic. You must add real value.
Solution 4 – Create Real Value – Leads, Leads, Leads
The absolute BEST thing Marketing can do is generate a high quantity of high-quality educated leads that they can hand to their Sales brethren. There is no greater value Marketing can bring than this singular action. If you happen to have any degree of contentiousness between your Marketing and Sales teams, you’ll find that will quickly dissolve when Marketing brings Sales loads of quality leads. They’ll get real friendly, real quick.
Problem 5 – Your Company Is Not the Hero
This problem is adjacent to the “overload of blatant self-promotion” problem mentioned earlier. Too many Marketing teams spend too much time talking about how great their company is. This can carry over into sales presentations in the form of a 30 slide PowerPoint deck where 26 slides are dedicated to hammering the prospect with how great the company is, how many awards they have, and how long they’ve been in business. Here’s a damn fact you need to drill into your head: your prospects don’t care about your company. So what do they care about?
Solution 5 – The Customer Is the Hero
Your customers care about their problems. If you spent far less time talking about the grandeur of your company and more time talking about your prospects’ problems, then you’d find yourself with many more customers and much more revenue. Put the customer at the center of your story. Make it all about them and their journey. Your prospects are the ones who should fill the role of “hero,” and you should wear the role of the trusty and venerable “guide.” It is your duty to help the hero find their way out of their problems, overcome their adversity, and arrive at a better place.
Placing the customer as the role of “hero” and your company and team in the role of “guide” is a mindset and framework of thinking that should be taught to every single person in your organization.
Your Marketing department is one of the most valuable departments in your entire organization. They are the face of your industry. They are “sales-at-scale.” They are the group that if calibrated appropriately will bring in large volumes of high-caliber leads for your Sales team to go to town on. Unfortunately, too many businesses don’t view or leverage their Marketing departments in a manner that can produce the kind of value and revenue that they should. That’s a shame, because it most certainly does not have to be that way. If you can understand the five common Marketing problems laid out here and apply these tactics, you’ll find yourself and your company in a far better position.
Additional Resource: 75+ Content Marketing Statistics Every Marketer Needs to Know