Being a marketing manager in the digital age is an exciting, yet challenging role. On the one hand, you have so many tools available to give you insight into what you’re doing and to automate some of your tasks. But on the other hand, the tools and strategies change and evolve so quickly that it’s difficult to know if you’re using the ones which will give you the best results.
The other challenge you have is that because of the complexity of digital marketing, there is a good chance that no one else in your company really understands what you do every day. Especially perhaps, your boss.
If you put yourself in your boss's shoes for a moment (maybe she’s the CEO, or perhaps she’s the VP of Sales) you can imagine that digital marketing is even more of a mystery to her since it’s not her primary area of expertise.
But you want to impress her, show her how good you are, and most importantly, make her understand how much impact your work has on the business. That will affect how well you’re compensated and potentially the overall success of the company. So what can you do?
We’ve had many conversations with CEOs, VPs of Sales, and talented marketing managers over the past few years, and here are the things we believe make marketing managers invaluable to their companies:
Stay Current with Industry Trends
One of the best things you can do in your career for yourself, as well as for your company, is keep up to date on industry trends so you can apply things that are working for others, to your own situation. You can do this through:
- dedicating a bit of time each week to reading blogs, both in your industry as well as in marketing
- following influencers in your industry and marketing on social media
- attending conferences in your industry and marketing
- attending local networking events in your industry and marketing
- getting certified in tools or tactics which are relevant to your job (i.e. Inbound certification, Google Analytics, SEO certifications, Facebook, etc.)
Know which Metrics Matter to Your Boss
As noted in this post about How to Make the Most Money in Your Marketing Career, marketers who focus their efforts on improving the overall business performance, will outearn their marketing peers who are focusing on their personal performance, in the long run.
If your boss is the CEO or VP of Sales, one of the indicators that matter most to them is how many Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs) are generated each month. Just by making your boss aware that you understand that this is an important metric to the company, you will already make yourself more valuable to the business.
The first step in contributing to the number of SQLs is to make sure you and the sales team are on the same page as to what differentiates a sales lead from a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL).
MQLs are those who still need to be nurtured by marketing before they are ready to be contacted by sales. One way to keep track of MQLs and SQLs is to implement Lead Scoring. You can assign a value to the various actions that a lead has taken (i.e. downloading a whitepaper, clicking through on a newsletter link, visiting a sales page on your website) so you have an actual measurement as to when an MQL converts to an SQL.
SQLs are important to your CEO and VP of Sales because SQLs are easier for sales people to close. If you know any sales people, you know they don’t like spending their time on leads who they can’t close.
Another important metric to CEOs and VPs of Sales is the Cost of Customer Acquisition. This KPI is calculated by dividing all of your sales and marketing costs by the number of new customers acquired during the same period. The lower this number, the better.
One reason inbound marketing is so popular is because it generates leads at a lower cost than traditional outbound marketing, providing a higher Return on Investment (ROI). Inbound marketing however takes time (often 6 months to a year depending on how much traffic you have to begin with) to generate inbound leads.
So if you’re starting with very little website traffic, you will most probably need to do some outbound marketing (paid promotion, direct mail, advertising, etc.) as well to generate SQLs until your inbound marketing starts gaining traction.
Implement Sales Enablement Strategies
Another thing you can do as a marketing manager to really impact the overall success of the business is to implement Sales Enablement strategies on your website.
This requires understanding what content your sales people really need to help in their conversations with leads. Ideally it’s content that will help all of your sales people, and they all know how and where to access it on your website.
Having regular conversations with your sales team, or attending their weekly meeting, is a good way to get insight into their conversations with leads, and identify specific ways your marketing team can help them using content.
Know What you Don’t Know
If you are part of a small marketing team supporting your company, you probably have other responsibilities in addition to digital marketing and the company website. Maybe you help with trade shows, seminars or print campaigns. Maybe you respond to RFPs.
You probably know there are many different tactics available to you, but perhaps you’re not sure which ones will really move the needle for your company. Or even if you do know where you should be focusing your efforts to really impact the business, you don’t have the bandwidth to do everything yourself.
As we discussed earlier, digital marketing changes so rapidly that it’s impossible for anyone to be an expert in everything marketing-related today. So if you’re the marketing manager at your company, one of the most important ways to add value to your company is to be aware of what you don’t know and recommend to your boss when it would be good to bring in a consultant or agency to help you. Yes, that will cost money. But most importantly, it will probably save your company a lot more money in time not wasted going down the wrong path.
Look for Opportunities to Put Your Company in the Spotlight
Finally, one last thing you can do as a marketing manager to really make yourself invaluable to your company is to look for opportunities to put your company in the spotlight for the good things that it does.
From Best Place to Work, Best CFO or one of the other many award opportunities available today, you are probably the best person in the company to recognize the benefits of these awards to a business. And the best part is that the only cost is usually the time involved in completing the application.
And if your company does any sort of giving back to the community, pro bono projects, or other charitable works, make sure you talk about it on your company’s social media channels and/or blog. Not only does it help put your company in a good light to prospects and customers, but your employees and vendors will also be proud to be associated with your company.
If you like public speaking or think that it could be a valuable skill for you, another option is to look for speaking opportunities where you represent your company. That not only helps your company, it improves your personal brand as well.
The beauty of trying to be invaluable to your company is that it’s really not that difficult and the benefits are many. Your boss will love you for doing these things and ultimately you are also investing in yourself and expanding your skills.
If you’re a marketing manager, I’d love for you to comment and share things you’ve done which have had a significant impact for your company. And if you’re a CEO, VP of Sales, CMO or someone else who has a great marketing manager on your team, please tell us about the fantastic things they’ve done to help your business!