Business Coaching Blog
The Marketing Layer Cake
Thursday, March 1st, 2018
A client was discussing his marketing function recently. It was outsourced and he was considering hiring a marketing manager and bringing it in-house. This prompted a discussion about what he meant by “marketing” and what the new role would have to include.
The word “marketing” is universally used to describe a whole bundle of activities designed to generate business enquiries or leads. This generalisation is not useful when it comes to recruiting marketing staff or outsourcing marketing activities. Traditional breakdowns of marketing focus on stages (awareness/interest/commitment) or the mix (price/position/promotion) or the proposition (niche/pain/proposition). These are all useful models for developing your marketing but again are not particularly helpful when recruiting or outsourcing.
For example, a role titled “Marketing Manager” in a small business will often encompass a wide range of activities such as marketing strategy, planning, website maintenance, email creation, database list creation or purchase, social media content, telesales, Google analytics, email stats, events – and so forth. Because funds and manpower are limited there is a tendency to bundle anything remotely marketing-related into the job description. This wide range of activities (and so required skills) can often result in performance issues and even a general reaction that “marketing doesn’t work”. This can be damaging both to the business and the employee or supplier concerned.
It is more useful in these circumstances to think of marketing as being three different sets of skills:-
- Strategic (the development of the context and strategic goals for marketing). This requires a high degree of conceptual thinking, the ability to envision the long-term future, a deep understanding of the organisation’s competitive strengths and weaknesses and business strategy. These skills are expensive and required infrequently. These tasks are best undertaken by the leadership team of the business, supported by a suitable external consultant;
- Professional creative (the development of compelling messages, content and copy and the selection and set-up of the necessary technology and tools). This requires creative flair, deep knowledge of the tools and techniques required and an instinct for words and images that change what people believe. These skills are specialised and most small businesses will not be able to use them full-time. These tasks are best outsourced to a freelance professional or marketing agency;
- Planning, delivery and analysis (the scheduling and delivering of marketing content, the operation of the necessary tools and technology and the analysis of marketing effectiveness). This requires an aptitude for organisation, routine, accuracy, numerical analysis, pattern recognition and structure. Such people are often already within an organisation in administrative, technical or project roles.
Two traps await the small business owner. The first is to outsource to a marketing agency at the strategy stage and then unwittingly continue to pay consultancy-level rates for admin-level routine activities for the rest of the contract. The second is to hire one person to cover all these quite different tasks. Whilst someone employed to do all of these things will, in the right circumstances, improve their understanding and performance in the areas that are not their natural strengths, the talents required are so different that this improvement will be limited. In most small businesses where exemplars or even fellow-marketeers will be limited or non-existent the poor jack-of-all-trades is almost destined to fail.
A mixed approach as outlined in the bullet points above will help you avoid these mistakes.
If you’d like to learn more about this and other ways to systemise your business then register for our next event.