As we identify with the previously disclosed M.A.R.T.E.C.H. competency framework and agree this is a way to advance our knowledge, we need to figure out how to make this practical within the workplace. Let’s flutter to the first MarTech competency, or the M in M.A.R.T.E.C.H., to figure out what things we can do to advance marketing knowledge.
We’ll frame this advancement in two ways: 1) the intensive marketing knowledge and attitude required to perform daily marketing functions and 2) the sharing of marketing knowledge with other stakeholders to establish a clearer understanding and appreciation for what marketing actually does for an organization.
#1 Marketing Knowledge & Attitude for Daily Performance
In reviewing what our own marketing team does to advance marketing knowledge, we leverage a variety of sources. Source discovery is the result of the right attitude, which will be featured later in our writings when we discuss the great C of M.A.R.T.E.C.H.; culture.
In observation of our marketing attitude, there is a heightened sense of awareness, a consistent curiosity, and a desire for experimentation. These translate into a focus on establishing meaningful social networks, monitoring related market activities & expert sources, and a willingness to try something new.
With one deep breath, you could say: consistent curiosity and a meaningful professional network reveals inspirational people who motivate you to experiment with new things, and some of those new things work so fantastically that you adopt and refine them while simultaneously continuing your experimentation to find something better on your quest to create and communicate value.
My former English teacher, Sister Margaret Ann, would not be proud of that massive sentence.
Here is one example of how a full iteration of that process played out.
In a galaxy far, far away, I was curious about enabling the sales process because the phone book trolling, cold calling environment really sucked. I was reading books related to complex selling, customer centric selling, partner selling, team selling, feature selling, relationship selling, consultative selling, and circus selling (made that up just now).
My curiosity triggered the pursuit and I went to books first, but through that process, increased my professional network. Someone in that network inspired me to attend the SiriusDecisions conference. At that conference, a young and ambitious Matthew learned about analyst relations as part of the selling process.
Sure, we’ll try that.
So we engaged the analysts at the time covering the digital asset management space. Frost & Sullivan, Forrester, Gartner, and anyone else that would take time to do an analyst briefing. Voila! We have formal product reviews published, people reach out to us because they read the report, and we were introduced to an expert network of analysts providing insight into market conditions that we weaved into product management.
Along the way, we experimented with many more things, unrelated to the analyst community, inspired by our curiosity and professional network. More events, more experts, more meaningful networks, more experiments, more things working, more customers, more ideas, more products, rinse, repeat. Through this constant effort, we also became the expert that other people sought within our space, digital asset management. That’s right, OUR space.
So what are a few things that can help with marketing knowledge for daily performance?
- Being Aware & Consistently Curious: Gravitating to topics of interest and staying in the loop through Google alerts, Hootsuite dashboards, service and sales team interactions, books, podcasts, blogs, whitepapers, etc. What actions can be taken to convert your awareness and curiosity into value for your future customers?
- Social Network: A social network requires maintenance, an exchange of value. Dunbar’s number suggests you can comfortably maintain 150 meaningful relationships. Meaningful. Enhance your social network through volunteerism because shared values is a great way to start a professional relationship. What cause are you passionate about and how can you professionally collaborate with your new found friends outside of the volunteer work to add value for your future customers?
- Event Participation: I’ve been hot and cold on events, just ask the leader of our marketing team. I’m hot on it again because there seems to be more value from the events we have attended in the last few years (or quite possibility I have just become more aware). Events are great ways to add more people to your social network with shared professional interests AND to find and build your expert network. In the last few years, we have gravitated to local and national events like Social Media Breakfast, AMA, BMA, Content Marketing World, and MarTech Conference. What events can you attend where you will find ideas and people that can add value to your future customers?
- Expert Network: Friends of Widen have included Scott Brinker and Joe Pulizzi, both previous speakers at the Widen Summit and excellent sources of thought leadership. Subject matter experts are sitting right next to you as well -- they are your colleagues. I have the honor of being surrounded by experts in a variety of subjects. How can you translate the information from expert sources to provide value to your future customers?
- Experimentation: Set aside a few bucks and just try something else. Buy a new technology, promote in a new channel, change the message, try a new target. And if you don’t have the money and time, then stop doing something else to make sure experimentation is part of your curriculum. Sure the current programs are working, but your new discoveries might be exponential better. Yes, they might also fail by your manager’s definition, but you are learning something new and I don’t consider that failure. The culture needs to accept this and you should feel empowered to influence that. How can you experiment with something to attract future customers?
- Ongoing Programs: This is the marketing stuff you think is working effectively. Once considered an experiment, now a mindless annual renewal without consideration for what else you might do with that money. Programs that work are lovely, but are you justifying they work because your boss says they do, because you don’t want to put in the time to analyze it? As you have progressed in your knowledge, your definition for success also has. If you applied your new definition of success to your historical marketing efforts, would they make it to the next round?
#2 Marketing Knowledge for Stakeholders
We have highlighted a few ways marketers can advance their knowledge but instead of siloing the marketing knowledge in marketing, we need to share. Sharing with human resources, engineering, accounting, software development, product management, customer service, and any other curious minds within your organization. Exposing other stakeholders to marketing knowledge establishes a clearer understanding of what marketing actually does. Through a consistent sharing effort, an understanding of marketing will form and stakeholders will develop a greater appreciation for the efforts.
Most importantly, you have just enabled an army of ambassadors with marketing knowledge. They can talk to their own networks about marketing, bring new ideas to you for experimentation, or least new ideas that can now register on your curiosity radar. They can now critique you with fresh insights using your vocabulary.
In a recent fireside chat by a friend of Widen, she expressed a frustration with everyone outside of marketing thinking they know marketing. Which is true, not many have opinions about accounting or software development doing their jobs differently, but many people have an opinion about marketing. We can harness that desire and turn them into knowledgeable stakeholders that will offer valuable insights.
How do we inject this marketing knowledge into the whole organization?
- Share the Plan & Explain Why: Share your marketing plan, or at least make it accessible to the stakeholders, allows them to see what is happening. Even extracting a cliff notes version and explaining why certain things are being done establishes a greater level of transparency. Be accountable to your peers.
- Leadership Influence: If the leadership and management teams understand and appreciate marketing, then the endorsement will be communicated to non-marketers by non-marketers. Use the internal network and relationships you have cultivated with colleagues to deliver the message.
- Open House: Establish a marketing open house as an internal event. Make it a party! Bring your vendors, have the public relations team explain their tactics, witness the social media teams monitor threads, watch the technologies throttle organized content into the market. You also have skeletons in your marketing closet, but don’t hide them from these stakeholders. They want to help, build the “we’re on the same team” mindset. You have the ability to empower them with knowledge.
- Shadow: For the super curious, allow them to shadow you for the day. Pick a potpourri day with an analytics review, technology assessment, media interview, the creation of a new blog post, a review of artwork from the design team, product feedback session and a budget review. Let them see your inefficiencies, be vulnerable.
- Fireside Chats: Bring in other people to talk about marketing. At Widen we call these fireside chats. We have three outside, professional marketers on the docket for the next 6-weeks. As the conversation unfolds, everyone begins asking questions, soaking up more and more marketing knowledge from professionals in your network. We just started adding outsiders to our fireside chats and I expect these to be the most valuable.
Just a few ways to think about advancing the M competency in the M.A.R.T.E.C.H. competency framework.