SMARKETING is the new BLACK

So on 30 January 2016 — that’s a Saturday — I get a call from someone I have been in a very brief business partnership with two years earlier. He offers me an opportunity I have been dying (figuratively of course) to experience first hand. A closer look at the collective psyche of a corporate entity on the client side of the equation. I have always wanted to see up close what happens inside either a large company or a large agency. Even better, he needed me to fill a role I was born for — that of a digital strategist. I agree and I join (after I relinquish my role as leader of the free world at my own agency and letting my ace Theshen Moodley take the reins)

One month in and I bring a youngster on board that just graduated from a college of creative arts to do some video editing and menial creative tasks like banner animation and amendments to graphics to be used digitally but wasn’t originally created for digital anything. One of the first tasks I give him is to enter my gmail address and phone number into the lead generation forms of all 17 campuses of one particular college. This to see how fast I will be contacted and what exactly happens when a lead is followed up on that side of the railway line. Out of 17 campuses nationwide only the one in Durban followed up with a call to see if I had been assisted.

Fast forward to May of 2017. I had since been “ousted” from the company due to my unconventional approach to digital marketing. The same unconventional approach that launched Alcatel One Touch in South Africa, made Top Gear Festival R20million in ticket sales using nothing but social media, tripled the year on year sales for the Coo-ee softdrink brand in 2015 (again using nothing but digital marketing) and made R70million in part-time college enrolments in 2016. It’s Tuesday, 2 May 2017 and I get a call from a salesperson at one of the colleges in the Eastern Cape asking if I had been assisted. This is one year and, a month and some change after I had had my email address submitted to the campus.

Why did this happen? One word. SMARKETING.

Smarketing is the alignment of sales and marketing in a manner that sees marketing generate leads that get fed to the sales team and the sales team feeding conversion data back to marketing — both chasing the same revenue goals. Between my unofficial immediate superior and I, we actually started deploying something that looks like SMARKETING in January 2016. This after we realised that the combined salesforce lacks the capacity to convert more than 5% of all leads generated in that month and the preceding one.

So some of the things I learnt from my time outside AllBrand whilst working in the corporate space are:

  • Agencies are not interested in the entire marketing process. Just the part that lets them sell whatever they’re selling.
  • Ideas only flow from the executive suite to the ground floor and not upward as well.
  • There is a complete communication disconnect between sales and marketing.
  • All relevant and relative information seldom get shared with entire marketing teams. Like revenue goals.
  • CRM systems are cumbersome and not easily understood.
  • Policy is dictated by people that are clueless about the subject matter.
  • Sales and marketing are really two interdependent disciplines. The one can never function optimally without the other.

I’m sure you have identified a few things on your job that can be done better as you read through the above. Truth is.. corporate captains put their trust in their agencies. It is the agencies that need to come to the party and start offering SMARKETING as a service. Companies trust agencies because they are external and you always see clearer standing on the outside looking in. So it becomes the responsibility of the agency to point out the need for alignment and a tight feedback loop that requires closing by the minute, the hour, the day. Marketing needs to know what the pains of the sales team are so that they can do their job better, in so creating economic harmony for the entire SMARKETING department. If I don’t know that I am generating shitty leads, I cannot work on improving the mechanisms to qualify the leads I generate. If you don’t know how I actually generate and nurture a lead to the point where I hand it over to sales, how will you feel included enough to report back to me on your conversion processes and successes.

2017 has been touted the year of many marketing trends. Video. Content. AR/VR.. etc. etc.

But none of these are as desperately needed by both agencies on the service offering side and companies on the deployment side as SMARKETING is.

2017 should be the year of SMARKETING !