Marketing directors manage marketing departments, and they’re not superheroes, even though they may save the day…every day. And despite all their heroics and day-saving, sometimes marketing departments have problems with unknown causes that marketing directors can’t seem to solve. These can be difficult to locate if you don’t know what to look for.
Below we have compiled a list of several pitfalls that marketing directors may face while managing their departments.
From our experience, potential villains affecting marketing departments are related to budget, timelines, team capability, planned or unplanned work, and responsibility of leadership.
The marketing department of any organization can be heavily impacted by a number of factors. When it comes to budgeting for marketing initiatives, they can be limited by the finance department if clear goals aren’t expressed in an appropriate time and manner. It is essential to accurately assess the return on investment (ROI) associated with any given expense. Without proper analysis and consideration of ROI potentials, an organization may find itself unable to sustainably grow its marketing efforts or worse – in a deficit situation that leaves them unable to capitalize on future opportunities. Receiving proper budgeting for marketing initiatives is one of the keys to positive marketing department growth.
How the marketing department communicates its own needs as well as everyone else’s can play a huge role in the success of getting the resources required for execution.
Everybody wants a piece of the pie, and marketing directors may feel pulled on from multiple different directions. From the sales department to outside vendors, everybody has an agenda, and the marketing director holds the dough. Everybody else wants cookies, but there’s only so many to go around. At times, your team may be overwhelmed and feeling like their morale is low, and having the resources necessary helps to strengthen and motivate the group to rally behind you until the marketing department goals are met, and victory is won.
Listen to episode 1 of the MOCK, the podcast. In this episode, we share in detail of how our team was struggling due to lack of resources and an overwhelming workload and were unable to get the help that we needed from our managing department. Our desire is to help other marketing directors and team members overcome what we had to face early on in our professional careers in the marketing industry.
What if the budget was working for you and your marketing department instead of against you?
Timelines are another important factor that affects the effectiveness and efficiency of any marketing initiative. When timelines are too tight or unrealistic (in terms of what is achievable), it can lead to rushed efforts that fail to yield expected outcomes or worse still – project failures due to missed deadlines. It is critical then that marketers accurately determine how long each task should take so they don’t end up with projects running behind schedule or not delivering as promised due to haste.
Being realistic in marketing timelines, helps the team work together more effectively in achieving the desired outcomes of the marketing department as a whole, which leads to further success in staying ahead and reaching the department’s desired goals.
Lack of Process
If there’s not an accurate method for predetermining tasks and estimating how long tasks will take, then underestimation will occur. Once underestimation occurs, then control of the project is lost. As control is lost, then scrambling and heroics are required in order to bring everything back on track. Heroes need days to save, and there are no days to save if marketing projects are made boring and predictable through planning and process.
Lack of process -> Underestimate -> Lose control -> Scrambling -> Heroics
The Superhero Team
Heroes are great, but building a culture of heroes won’t facilitate teamwork. It may seem great in comic books, but without constant craziness in the marketing department for heroes to shine through and save the day, it will be too boring, and the heroes will leave. The culture basically has to be crazy for these elites to stick around. The big problems only they can solve plays into their ego.
We don’t want to have fires that only heroes can put out. We want to have a team where work can be streamlined through process and passed to the team in a way that accentuates the strengths of the team. Process is how we do that.
But as process is put in place, what if the heroes leave and the team has to start from scratch?
Heroes may leave the team in time, but process in the end will facilitate lasting, creative marketing success. As process is in place, creative marketers can get in the zone. Once they’re in the zone less skilled professionals become dangerously effective. Now role players can play an essential role in the team’s success as a whole, and the marketing department’s culture dramatically improves. If a hero steps in the comradery is lost because team members are divided because they feel like they’re spectating from the sidelines.
The capabilities of the team play a significant role in determining whether a given marketing effort will be successful or not. Highly skilled professionals who understand tactics and strategies specific to their industry or niche can often leverage their expertise in order maximize an organization’s return on investment while minimizing risk exposure at the same time. Conversely, teams that lack experience and/or knowledge can produce subpar results with high costs associated with failure more likely than not. This will in turn slow down the overall results of the marketing department and force them to have to revisit their strategies to make improvements.
However, having a strong process in place, that a marketing team can utilize together that shines on their strengths, will help each team member equally attribute to the overall goals of the marketing department.
Planned vs Unplanned Work
Unplanned Work Flexibility
The ability to successfully juggle planned versus unplanned tasks is another important thing for marketers to consider when developing their strategies. If too much emphasis is placed on planned initiatives without factoring in for unexpected developments (such as competitive changes in pricing structure or product features), organizations tend to find themselves perpetually playing catch-up rather than staying ahead of their competitors which leads to stagnation instead of growth over time in most cases. Being flexible to inevitable changes allows the marketing teams to be more prepared when unforeseen circumstances arise and helps to better navigate in order to achieve the best results.
Planned Work is Key
If work is not planned for, then it is inefficient and problematic because it is a distraction from the planned work. If planned work is not done then traffic jams happen, and there is a trickledown effect throughout the marketing department, which effects other departments in the company, and customers, prospects, etc.
Unplanned work can be a major distraction from the real work that needs to be done and can have far-reaching consequences. When too much focus is put on unexpected tasks that arise, it can divert attention away from vital planned initiatives. This causes organizations to fall into the cycle of playing catch-up rather than staying ahead of their work and ultimately stagnating instead of growing.
Not only does an overabundance of unplanned tasks create a distraction for those responsible for executing them, but it also adds unnecessary stress and pressure on the team. Unforeseen developments such as changes in pricing structure or product features are often not accounted for and can cause marketers to become overwhelmed with trying to keep up or adjust strategies in order to stay afloat.
Furthermore, when unplanned tasks take precedence over planned ones, it can have a trickle-down effect throughout the entire organization. It affects other departments who are relying on marketing teams to fulfill their duties in order for them to maintain their own workflow. Not only is this inconvenient, but it has the potential to deter customers and prospects if they notice the lack of consistency or results coming from marketing efforts.
The bottom line is that unplanned work is a major problem because not only does it lead to distractions, but it also leads to inefficient practices that can have lasting impacts if left unchecked. However, being flexible by understanding when changes arise and having process in place will help alleviate some of these issues and ultimately help teams successfully navigate towards achieving desired goals more seamlessly.
Responsibility of Leadership
Lack of direction
When it comes to the marketing department, a lack of direction from leadership can have a crippling effect on its performance. Without clear objectives and goals being set out by upper management, the team cannot develop an effective strategy that is tailored to meeting organizational objectives. This can lead to a sense of confusion among members of the team as each individual may be pursuing their own agenda or having difficulty determining what the priority projects should be in a given situation. In addition, lack of direction from leadership can lead to ineffective use of resources and an inability to accurately measure success and return on investment (ROI) for any given task or activity.
Furthermore, without appropriate guidance from senior leaders, teams may find themselves unable to capitalize on new opportunities when they arise due to inaction or even worse – lack of understanding around how best to maximize such opportunities. This all adds up to lost time and money over time that could have been better invested into initiatives that are aligned with overarching business goals.
Clear Direction and Guidance
Ultimately, providing clear direction from leadership is essential for marketing teams to be able to effectively deliver on expectations, increase ROI potentials, and stay ahead of their competition in the long-term.
• VISION: Provide a clear and specific vision for the team that outlines the goals, objectives, and expectations of the marketing department. This should be communicated regularly to ensure team members are aligned on the same page, and it needs to be written down where everyone can access it.
• CONNECTION: Establish communication channels to ensure there is an ongoing dialogue between leadership and the team as well as open feedback loops so ideas can be exchanged in a timely manner. Try taking a hands-on approach with each team member. Everyone wants supporters and followers, just look at social media. So, what if we supported our marketing team members through personal connection and open feedback with no more hiding behind the desk?
• PROJECT MANAGEMENT: Prioritize tasks that support the overarching objectives of your organization and assign resources accordingly. Utilizing a project management system to keep everyone organized and focused on their tasks.
• MEASUREMENT: Leverage performance metrics to measure success, track progress, and identify areas for improvement. Utilizing data-driven insights enables leaders to make more informed decisions about what initiatives should be pursued or tweaked for maximum impact.
• STAYING CURRENT: Be proactive by staying up to date with industry trends, competitor activities, customer feedbacks, etc., so that you are aware of potential opportunities and threats that may arise in order to stay ahead of the curve.
With the right amount of guidance and clarity around organizational goals, your marketing department can become an efficient powerhouse that drives results. Providing clear objectives will help your team focus on the right initiatives at the right times, leading to improved ROI potentials and successful execution of strategies. When you give them the tools they need to stay ahead of their competition, you’ll be rewarded with a competitive edge that sets your business up for long-term success.
Finally, without leadership providing clear direction and outlining measurable goals for campaigns, combined with budgeting, timelines, team capabilities, and work planning, many organizations run into trouble trying to execute successful campaigns. If there’s no real-time feedback loop between management and those tasked with executing projects, it leads to confusion over what needs doing and results in poor performance over time. Each of these things are important to manage collectively, to ensure that the marketing department is functioning at its fullest capacity.
Additionally, if you are looking to partner with a creative team to supplement your marketing department, MOCK, the agency is here for you.