Today’s CMOs and marketing leaders are under more pressure to deliver than ever before. As an agency, we have the pleasure of working with a variety of clients in a wide range of categories. It’s clear that while the categories they play in may differ, our clients encounter many similar adversities along the way. Recognizing and preparing for these challenges can help leaders as they try to navigate the ever-changing role of modern marketing. So, we asked our clients to give us some advice. Here are five common challenges marketing leaders face and some real-life advice on how to overcome them.
1. Knowing the RIGHT time to make a change
Many of our clients were brought into their organizations to take on the role of change agent. That means constantly looking for improvements and creative solutions to make a department or company more effective. Identifying the issues is the easy part, finding solutions and knowing when to implement them is the challenge. Forcing change upon an organization at the wrong time can have disastrous results. Even if the solution is right it must be implemented in the right way to be successful. One of our clients in a B2B sales driven environment told us:
“I knew immediately, in my first quarter with the company, that I needed better partners and more experienced team leads if I was going to be able to bring my plan to life. However, the culture of our company did not allow me to make changes right away. I needed to build trust with my team and empower them to be a part of the decision making. We finally, after 2 years, have the right internal and external partners and we are achieving more than I ever thought we could.”
2. Navigating organizational politics
Our clients range from international organizations to businesses with a core team of professionals in the Chicago Suburbs. However, one consistency they all share is navigating internal politics to achieve their own goals. Understanding the motivations of others is key to finding success for yourself and your team.
“I realized marketing was not respected in our organization no matter how hard I tried to prove our worth. It wasn’t until I realized that I had to show our successes in relation to certain key stakeholder motivations that we were respected. Now they can’t wait to pull us in to strategize because they know we will make them look good.”
3. Being brave enough to test something new
We are living in a time where we can test and learn almost anything. The ability to use metrics, KPIs, and analytics have helped marketers establish goals and really demonstrate their worth to an organization. The flip side of this coin, however, is that it makes trying something new and unmeasured more of a risk. Creative marketers are struggling to bring new ideas to the table and fund them without a proven track record. One of our clients that focuses on high consideration purchases said:
“I have programs that work hard for me. I can’t lose those. However, I want to stay close to new and innovative tactics to reach my customer. We have started to allocate a testing budget that allows us to put test programs in market and then determine whether or not we want a full rollout. By establishing the budget in the beginning, I give my team some leeway to come up with new ideas.”
4. Building trust (internally and externally)
Trust is the cornerstone of modern management. But it is not as easy as it sounds. A title or number of years’ experience does not immediately turn into trust from a new team. Our clients are constantly looking for new ways to build trust with their teams both internally and externally.
“We have great people here, but they were not empowered to make decisions. This created a culture of complacency. A year of supporting my team showed them that I was a leader that was here for them. It has made a world of difference in the way we work together.”
5. Delivering results on decreasing budgets
This is an age-old marketing issue. I was surprised to hear that our clients still struggle with this on a daily basis. They are constantly being pressed to do more with less.
“Creative budgeting is the name of the game. If I know something is working, I fund it. I also try to push big expenses (like websites) outside of the marketing budget. Also, remember that most internal people don’t understand what marketing does. I constantly tout our successes and tie them to real results. This helps when I’m in budget defense mode… no one wants to take money away from something that drives results.”