Is Your Marketing Department Treated Like a Flunky?

by Debra Andrews | March 3, 2015

Now there’s a word you probably haven’t heard in a while – Flunky.  No, not cool and funky.  We’re talking flunky, and it’s anything but hip!  If you’re not familiar with the term, it means:

“A person who does small jobs for someone powerful or important.”

In many organizations, especially those that are small-to-midsized (“SMB”), marketing isn’t given its due respect as a core function, both capable of and responsible for delivering high level business results such as:

High functioning marketing departments can do all this and more.  So why the injustice?  There are two primary reasons and, sorry… I’m not going to sugar coat them – Ignorance and/or Bad Attitude.  

Ignorance:  Marketing Misconception at the “C” Level

Marketing is very often the least understood core function within organizations.  A major hurdle to setting the record straight is that many executives – from CEO and CFO to CTO and COO – believe they ‘get’ marketing when, in fact, their definitions and expectations differ and are not on the mark. If a company doesn’t have an in-house CMO – which is common among SMBs – with the experience and knowledge to command respect at the C-level, the marketing department is relegated to an order taking role.  

The CEO may request a Super Size #4 while the frugal CFO pushes to limit expenditures to the Dollar Menu.  Mixed signals and a lack of strategic priorities leave most marketers confused, frustrated and feeling like flunkies.  To avoid this, ensure your company has strong marketing leadership.  It’s vital to a successful and thriving marketing department.  If a full-time, in-house strategic marketer or CMO isn’t needed or in the budget, consider contracting on a part-time basis.  For more information on the modern marketing best practices that a strategic marketer can bring, read Five Signs Your Marketing Department is Rocking It in the Fast Lane.

Bad Attitude: The Sales Department’s Monumental Chip 

Many sales professionals operate with big ol’ chips on their shoulders, erroneously believing that they are the sole revenue generators.  In keeping with this bad attitude, a company without a solid sales team or rainmaker should just pack it in, right?  Unfortunately, this mentality casts the marketing department as a second class citizen, preventing sales and marketing alignment and ultimate success.  Here’s a typical scenario:

A sales professional has just scheduled a meeting with an unqualified prospect and wants a custom PowerPoint presentation asap!  Meanwhile, the marketing professional is putting final touches on an email campaign that will officially kick off the firm’s target marketing efforts that are consistent with its strategic plan.  Marketing is expected and/or instructed to drop everything in favor of creating sales collateral.

This scenario doesn’t ring true for every organization, but it happens often.  Just think of all the random, one-off assignments there could be with 15 sales people to every 1 marketer.  You wind up with a circus-like atmosphere without the cotton candy.  Marketers are relegated to taking orders and their priorities never get prioritized. This is not a good situation for marketing, sales and future growth prospects for the company.  

When there is alignment between sales and marketing, each discipline is leveraging its expertise to move leads through the pipeline.  Marketing taps both inbound and outbound marketing strategies to pull new leads into the sales funnel. When those contacts are qualified, based on either subjective criteria or objective analysis (otherwise known as lead scoring), they are passed on to the sales team to close.  This alignment maximizes sales professionals’ time by not bogging them down with work on cold leads.

From Flunky to Funky

There are so many solid business reasons why your marketing department shouldn’t be a flunky, including higher morale, greater efficiency, increased revenues and sustained long-term growth.  So, come on. Change it up.  Get on the dance floor.  Turn your marketing department from a flunky to the new funky! 

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