Is It Time to Rebrand Marketing in 2019?
As we look into the beginning of 2019, I’d like to challenge you to provide an honest answer to this question: What does your company really think about marketing? One of the shadow challenges facing marketing today is legacy thinking about the role of B2B marketing. It seems that even though the role of B2B marketing is transforming from the “make it pretty” department to a driver of revenue and growth, many executives still hold firm to old beliefs about marketing. Breaking these paradigms is both challenging and necessary if marketing is to have both a seat and voice at the table. Innovative marketing departments are addressing this issue through a top-down rebranding exercise. This post is a discussion of the key elements of rebranding your marketing organization, including:
- Aligning goals
- Conducting perception interviews
- Creating your messaging platform
- Creating stakeholder value statements
- Communicating your brand
The first step in rebranding is ensuring marketing goals are aligned to sales goals and company goals. While this step might seem simple and intuitive, many marketing departments are still acting in a vacuum. Begin by creating a marketing scorecard with metrics that matter to the business. This equates to metrics such as marketing revenue, growth, customer retention and contribution to pipeline. Executives under pressure to grow the company don’t care about the number of website visitors or pages viewed on your website. They want to know how marketing is helping the business grow and the what the ROI is from marketing investments. Taking the time to create, track and report measurable goals ensures substance behind your brand promise. In addition, the consistent and transparent reporting of results — good and bad — is a behavior that represents commitment and earns respect from the entire organization.
Conducting Perception Interviews
I was working with a large financial services organization a few years ago that had just implemented Marketo. The team was excited about developing strategy and improved customer experiences. A few months later, I visited and found a depressed and morose group of marketers. They revealed that they were viewed as techies and button-pushers. They asked for help in changing this perception, kicking off a project that would be my first rebranding exercise in a marketing organization.
There are many ways to guide a rebranding exercise, but you should always begin with a set of perception surveys and/or interviews. Ninety percent of people will not take this courageous step, and I also promise that if you are in the 10%, you will be much more successful. First, hold an honest conversation with your key stakeholders about the role of marketing in the organization. Second, listen to and take feedback as a gift. Finally, use your discoveries to create a brand that resonates and matters to all stakeholders.
Creating Your Messaging Platform
Words and actions matter when building a new brand. How you talk about what you do and why you do it sends a clear brand message. I am a fan of Simon Sinek’s why, how and what approach, and I often use it to begin re-messaging and re-positioning the brand of marketing. Think about creating an elevator pitch for marketing: Let’s say you meet a board member or an employee from another part of the business and they ask what you do. The standard reply takes the form of what, how and why. You might say, “I work on the demand gen team and am responsible for our marketing automation platform. I work with campaigns all day.” Now, compare this to using the Simon Sinek approach and saying, “Everything we do is designed to optimize our customer’s experience. By using leading-edge marketing technology, we enable that experience and provide invaluable customer insights to our company. This is the charter of our demand gen team.”
Creating Stakeholder Value Statements
Marketing no longer exists in a silo. In our customer-led and digitally enabled world, marketing now must work across all functions to be successful. A key element to rebranding is to consider all the marketing stakeholders and create value statements for each persona. This is the same as creating personas and messaging maps for a campaign. As the role of marketing transforms, you must consider what the new marketing team will provide for each stakeholder, including for sales, executive, customer service and other marketing teams. You must be able to articulate the concrete value for each stakeholder — no fluff. The entire organization should use this messaging consistently in all formal and informal communications.
As you begin communicating the value statements to each stakeholder group, you are providing a nurturing program that consistently educates around the value and the possibilities of marketing. Bring in a writer and get this done! Well-crafted and -vetted statements enables easier execution.
Communicating Your Brand
It’s helpful to think like a politician on the campaign trail when considering your communication framework. For example, there’s the main stump speech, which is tailored to the audience. Key elements of your communication framework should include message type (update, milestone achieved), intent of the message (inspire, educate) and stakeholder persona. The channels (email, text, social media), cadence (weekly, monthly) and call to action (no reply, reply, engage) are also included in the communications framework.
Finally, you need to measure the results of the communication. Consider your key metrics, which may include the percentage of sales people who open an email from marketing — especially if they ignored all communications before. The metrics may include what percentage clicked on the call to action. Whatever metrics work for you, they should indicate the impact of your communications and new messaging. Taking the time to communicate your brand is key during a significant transformation.
Today’s successful B2B marketing organizations are change agents leading the charge to transform marketing and the business model. As change agents, marketers recognize the value of words, positioning and results, and they combine all of these elements to re-create their role and update their brand. Smart marketers do this with purpose and clarity and look to constantly respond to market changes and make continuous updates to their brand image. As you look into the planning for 2019, ask yourself this question: What does my company really think about marketing? You might be surprised.
About the Author | Debbie Qaqish
Debbie Qaqish is the chief strategy officer at The Pedowitz Group.