Be a Champion, Not a Challenge!
First one, then another. Now it’s a pattern that I can’t ignore. Marketing Managers and Marketing Coordinators who began their jobs at middle market B2B companies with great enthusiasm are coming to me to share their growing frustrations and ongoing struggles. They have faced one too many impossible tasks or brick walls, and some are on the verge of giving up and moving on. Senior executives – Owners, Presidents, Partners, Shareholders, and Vice Presidents – are almost always part of the problem. The good news? As you’ll learn, these same leaders can thankfully be part of the solution.
Life as the Middle Child B2B Marketing Professional
Working in the marketing department of a middle market B2B company has the potential to be a very rewarding experience. Unfortunately, many junior or mid-level marketers wind up discouraged and disappointed rather than feeling fulfilled and part of a productive team. Lack of direction and education as well as a daily dose of isolation take a toll on these Marketing Managers and Marketing Coordinators. The end result is often an abrupt exit that isn’t beneficial to the marketing professional or to the B2B company that will need to, once again, regroup. This is clearly a “Lose-Lose” scenario.
So let’s take an honest look at some typical dynamics within the B2B marketing function of middle market companies and see why so many B2B marketing professionals – even those who begin with steely determination – start to feel hopeless, disengaged, and downright ticked off.
The Ineffective, Non-Marketing Leader
It doesn’t always make sense for middle market B2B companies to employ a full-time, six-figure Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) to lead the marketing function. While there are viable alternatives, the most common solution is for management to select a non-marketing executive – someone who often has little to no knowledge of modern marketing – to lead the marketing charge. This can easily be a recipe for marketing disaster. Marketing Managers and Marketing Coordinators are then left to “figure it out.” When they do get direction from their non-marketing leaders, the advice is often “scattershot” style, having more to do with office politics – and who is beating the drum loudest – than marketing best practices.
Would you put a marketer in charge of engineering or accounting? It obviously wouldn’t work. Why is it, then, that many B2B business leaders feel that almost any executive can set the marketing course? That’s an unsustainable “solution” more often than not. On the one hand, it puts a tremendous burden on the executive trying to play an ill-suited role. On the other, in-house marketers with great passion for learning and driving results will soon realize they are working in what can amount to a marketing vacuum. Before long, they will feel exasperated and defeated. Once eager, they will stop trying so hard. And then they will leave.
One is a Lonely Number
B2B companies that employ a junior or mid-level marketer and do not contract with a dedicated third-party resource – such as a Fractional CMO – will typically end up with a lonely, directionless employee. Without a mentor or guide, the solo marketer has no one to turn to for support, encouragement, and training. It’s rare to find a junior or even mid-level professional who can excel while operating as an island within a middle market company. Can you imagine a CPA firm putting a first-year auditor with a client to “figure it out” on his or her own? How about a junior product engineer left to design a new product with no instruction? And what about an attorney who just passed the bar placed alone on a demanding case? It’s no different in the marketing field! Junior and mid-level marketers need guidance.
Seasoned Marketers to the Rescue
Do you employ a Marketing Manager or Marketing Coordinator you feel has the potential to lead the marketing charge someday? If the answer is “yes,” then contract with a seasoned marketer or, more specifically, a Fractional CMO to help him or her thrive and grow. If your professional is as talented as you think, the investment will be worthwhile indeed.
A seasoned marketer can also help non-marketing executives leading the marketing function by providing them with a strategic marketing plan. This “roadmap” tends to stop marketing randomness dead in its tracks. The plan educates the appointed department leader and offers clarity to junior or mid-level marketers on priorities, deadlines, and roles and responsibilities.
Have you heard of CME?
Funny, neither have I. That’s because CME, or Continuing Marketing Education, doesn’t really exist within most B2B companies including marketing agencies! Do you know that CPAs in most states have to take 40 hours of Continuing Professional Education (CPE) per year and/or 120 hours over three years to maintain their licenses? According to an article on BloomReach, “Marketing professionals, who at times are already feeling overwhelmed by ever-changing choices, will have to step up their games to identify and seize on the new ideas and technologies that will give them an advantage in a brutal business world.” A consistent amount of high level training is and will continue to be necessary to keep your Marketing Manager or Marketing Coordinator “in the know.” There is nothing more disheartening than knowing you are behind the curve and your skills are becoming obsolete. Commit to your marketing professional’s growth by offering him or her at least 40 hours of training every year. Here’s a list of great marketing conferences to get the ball rolling.
With an improved understanding of the obstacles facing your junior or mid-level marketing professional and some ideas about how to overcome them, you can become the Executive Champion who turns frustration into powerful and exciting marketing triumphs – for your marketer and for your company.
Want to learn more about marketing structure?
Then check out our free whitepaper on structuring a marketing department. It covers a breadth of considerations for B2B companies looking for more effective marketing departments, as well as related considerations for putting B2B marketing professionals in a position to succeed.
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