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  • Writer's picturePaul Hogendoorn

Marketing Manager is (often) just another name for Accountant

Marketing Manager is often just another name for Accountant.

No offense to accountants - their job is what it is, keeping track of the financial information, which is very important – but many marketing managers I encounter don’t do much more than manage (or control) the marketing spend of their company. Spending money on social media ads, tradeshows, and events, promotions, and advertising, is not marketing – its accounting.

I’ve probably offended many people in those roles, but the truth is, some of the folks in those roles that are actually doing effective marketing right would likely agree with me. Strongly.

Marketing is first about understanding your customer – the people that buy, or might buy, your product or service. Most marketing managers I encounter think its about getting the customer to understand your company or your company’s products, but they have it backwards, and this is a big and commonly made mistake.

Here’s a quick test to see if this is true for your company: does your product sell itself once a customer has been exposed to it? Chances are, the answer is no, and the reason for that is elementary: your product does not line up with what the customer actually needs and wants. Your marketing departments efforts are still aimed at trying to convince people that they need your product the way it is, which is an exponentially harder sale than selling to someone that knows the need they are trying to fill.

A marketing departments job is not to teach the customers and the market about its products, its first job is to understand the customer, and that doesn’t happen through surveys and reviewing industry analysis done by 3rd parties. It’s done by actually getting to know your customers, in person, and in their environment. How many times has your marketing manager been out to visit customers, in their plants or businesses, to truly understand them? Rarely, to not at all, for most of them.

A second common mistake: marketing’s job is not to dictate and manage the processes salespeople do to sell the product. Good salespeople know how to sell to customers. Marketing’s job is in support of the sales department and the salespeople. The best resource for a marketing manager are the top performing salespeople. Listen to them. Learn from them. Give them what they need, because their success is the company’s success – not the other way around.

Here are two quick tests to see if your marketing department is helping or hindering your salespeople: does your company have one or two high performing sales achievers? If you don’t have one, it’s a marketing failure, not a sales failure. If you do have one, is that salesperson always going rogue and doing things their own way, but their cowboy ways are tolerated because their sales and margin numbers are always good? If so, they are succeeding despite your marketing team’s efforts, not because of them, and your marketing team isn’t learning from their success and using those insights to help grow the rest of the sales team.

So, “why the rant?”, you might ask. People that have been reading my columns and blogs over the years know this is a touchy topic for me.

In recent months, it’s reared its head again. I have been working as an independent consultant, helping businesses grow and compete in the manufacturing industry. A couple times, I have been asked to assist salespeople by making connections and introductions for them, but that sometimes involves participation in an industry event, or a sponsorship, at a ‘nominal’ cost. As soon as it becomes financial (i.e. a spend issue), it falls into the domain of the marketing department, and then the standard answer is usually something like “our budget is set for this year, reach out to us next year”. The conversation ends at this point, the opportunity is lost, and the high performing salespeople feel thwarted and frustrated by their marketing teams once again.

As a serial entrepreneur, I know from decades of actual in-the-game experience, that revenue always follows value, and value is what solves a problem for the customer or meets a known (not perceived) need.

You cannot create revenue from customers without delivering value, and the easiest sale to make is by having a product or service the customer needs and already wants without having to be convinced they need it or want it. The people in the organization that know this the best are the salespeople.

In the manufacturing industry, the myth that marketing can create interest or demand for your product will cost you a lot of money and is sometimes a lesson that can cost years to learn. Actual customers know what they need and want, and all the marketing dollars spent trying to educate them into needing and wanting what you want to sell them will be wasted, leaving you frustrated and wondering why the revenues are lagging forecasts by years.

In the manufacturing industry, marketing doesn’t create demand for your products and services, and neither do consultants, or even government incentive programs. Customers do. What are they saying about your product or service? Are they buying and using it?

Marketing is watching, listening, and responding. Constantly. If your product is not selling, you haven’t gotten to know your customer, and your product isn’t something they are looking to buy.

In my next blog, I’ll share some insights on how some companies I have observed that ‘do’ marketing well. (Or, reach out to me directly if you want to start a conversation earlier).   


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