September 30, 2013

Step out of the bunker…

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..or how to avoid fridge magnet marketing. V Formation’s Hilary Campton shares a few tips for new (and old) marketing managers.

If I could give one piece of advice to a new marketing manager, it would be to get out of the marketing bunker and walk the floor. Every day. Marketing functions are often tucked away from the ‘business end’ of the firm without day-to-day and informal engagement with client-facing teams.

Spending a little bit of time each day to get to know those at the coalface and to share ideas and thoughts can be invaluable not only in building your own personal brand but in generating marketing activities that will genuinely add value.

If you regularly complain that marketing is ‘always the last to know’ about a particular initiative then you need to have a look at how you are operating. Are you visible enough? Are you spending time where the conversations are taking place? How often do you get the chance to find out what’s really going on in the firm?

By walking the floor you can uncover plans and ideas. And there’s a message here too to leadership teams – don’t exclude your marketers from planning and decision-making forums if you expect them to contribute in a meaningful fashion. You will end up with ‘fridge-magnet marketing’ that might look pretty but adds little value.

Expect to give as well as take. Before heading into a department or practice area make sure you are armed with some ‘conversation collateral’: a snippet of interesting news or an idea for a key client.

Equally you can generate enthusiasm – take with you visuals for an upcoming campaign or an attendee list for a seminar. Talk through the leads that are being generated by your latest inbound marketing, or explain the coverage the sponsorship has generated. Remember that we marketers are valued for our insights and imagination. Don’t keep yours a secret!

Walking the floor is also an important informal tool for understanding how you are performing against expectations. Whilst most professional practices now recognise the value of client listening exercises, there is little evidence that we marketing professionals seek the same kind of active feedback from OUR clients, namely the leadership teams in our own firms.

Those in a marketing management role must be brave enough to ask, in person, the ‘how are we doing?’ question. Senior retail executives are renowned for spending time getting back to the floor, gauging the mood of their customers and getting a real sense of how things are working. We can apply this practice to our own marketing roles and with our own internal customers.

You might feel a bit of a twit the first few times you walk the floor (particularly if your offices have lots of awkward dead ends) but with a bit of practice and some preparation it can soon become second nature and perhaps even enjoyable.

Management by Walking Around (MBWA) is a recognised leadership technique. Marketing by Walking Around can be equally handy.

For help or advice with making the most of marketing in your firm, contact Hilary on 07908 124772 or by email.

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