Marketing preconceptions we’ve all heard

I thought it would be fun to share some of them. I'd also like to challenge them head on, maybe you have run into these problems or have some of your own you’d like to share!

  • Marketing success is just numbers, Sales teams bring in the revenue

This is a common comment, I have heard this from all levels of businesses and of course from the sales team themselves. Even using the best tracking systems and marketing tools it is not always possible to attribute a lead or a sale to marketing activity – that doesn’t mean it wasn’t as a result of your effort.

Marketing is not an exact science and whenever a person approaches an exhibition stand, makes a phone call to your company, or visits your website – you can be sure that marketing was at the heart of that decision, the nuances of influencing people can be lost on sales people and you can be sure they will be claiming all the credit.

As marketers we need to be more confident of our impact and make it clear that it is important to be carrying out activities even if the end result can not be directly attributed back to our activities.

  • Marketing is  just shapes and colours…

As somebody who has worked a lot on branding and studied marketing at university, this one really irritates me. It can be said with a cheeky wink, but it is undermining to the point of being offensive.

Marketing (when carried out correctly) is a strategic discipline, that is complex and multifaceted. Just because the main aspects people see are logos, brochures, adverts and websites, this doesn’t mean that is all it involves.

Many marketers are reluctant to accept the role of strategic leadership and this can be part of the problem – if you allow senior management to whittle away your importance and draw it back to colours and shapes then you are being your own worst enemy.

Make it clear that the “shapes and colours” of your marketing are important to communicating your brand and values, but without a strategic approach, as well as clear objectives and activities to back this up, they are meaningless.

  • Marketing is the spending department

OK… where to start with this one? Marketing involves spending money, in most businesses marketing expenditure is highly visible and the return is less visible – if the IT department spend 10′s of thousands of pounds on new equipment, the output is clear and delivered (new computers, new monitors etc.). If marketing spends 10′s of thousands of pounds on advertising, the business doesn’t necessarily see the result of this spend.

How do we tackle this as marketers? That’s a good question, we can prove the ROI on our activities – this might help, but the truth is that most of the business aren’t going to see this (or care). We can nip these comments in the bud at the point of being stated… this comes across as a little on the defensive side, but if you are feeling brave – go for broke!

I think we need to stop thinking of our marketing invoices and expenses as “Spend”, whilst this might be what everyone else is calling it, let’s start calling it “investment” – I don’t believe any of us “spend” our marketing budgets without expecting a positive return, so let’s not call it expenditure.

Our investment into the business and our marketing activity will have a positive impact and will in turn generate business. Business managers wouldn’t allocate the budget if they weren’t expecting a return, so make this clear to those with negative attitudes.

  • You can do everything

This isn’t me trying to claim that you can’t do everything… it’s just that I have found that people expect you to be a designer, a copywriter, a branding expert, a social media guru, a website builder, to know everything about PR, an email marketing expert etc….

Some of you may be lucky and have more niche / specialised roles, but most marketers have very general responsibilities and the assumption that they can do it all can be crippling. It affects your confidence and other people’s confidence in you. The truth is that most of us have a good understanding of all these disciplines, but don’t claim to be experts in all of them and this is why marketing agencies exist and as a group we tend to outsource activities.

Don’t claim to know it all (unless you do!), make clear the limitations of your knowledge. The key to being successful is to stay in control of all of these activities, actively manage them, even if you are not executing them. This shows you understand what needs to be done, even if you are not actually doing it.

  • Everyone else can do your job

If you have been working in marketing for anything longer than 10 minutes I am sure you have already been advised by pretty much everyone about what you should be doing…

    • We need more leads
    • We need more customers
    • We should have more brochures
    • Everything should be online
    • We should be using Facebook more
    • Our website needs to be better
    • We need to rank higher on Google
    • We shouldn’t be spending less money on advertising

blah, blah, blah!!! I have heard every suggestion possible, this is even before you get to the marketing itself (that colour is a bit bright, I don’t like the font you are using, should this text be indented, there is too much white space… there is not enough white space!).

The curse and blessing of marketing is that everyone has an opinion about how you should be doing your job better and everyone believes they would be doing it differently… which means you are in for some critique, whether you want it or not.

Having all of these opinions and having this input is great, but it has to be taken with a pinch of salt, listen to other people’s opinions but have confidence in your ability to know better. When it hits the fan, your neck will be on the line, not everyone else’s. Stick to your guns but also take into account other’s opinions, the best marketers can listen and ignore in equal measures!

  • Nobody actually knows how to do your job

The painful (extremely painful) truth is that very few people, if anyone, actually knows how to do your job – they will ask for an email to be put together and expect it to take 10 minutes. They will want you to write a detailed blog post in an hour and wonder why you take so long.

Sometimes what we do in marketing can be unseen by many people and we may not appear to be doing a lot. The key to tackling this, is to make it clear how long things will take and then to deliver on these timescales – if it takes 4 weeks to re-design a brochure and re-work the content, make that clear.

Other departments do this to the extreme – IT service desks sometimes have 48 hour response times (can you imagine operating the same time-scales for marketing responses?). Always be clear and realistic, this will be your biggest ally in avoiding stress and ultimately enjoying your role as a marketer.

I know this post may appear negative about marketing, but over the years, you develop coping mechanisms against the comments and accusations and despite these pre-conceptions, there are some really positive aspects to marketing. This post has inspired me to put together a “Things I love about marketing” post – watch this space!

I would love to hear your comments about preconceptions you have dealt with.

This post is also on my B2B Marketing blog - www.methodinthemarketing.com