When a new CEO takes charge of a company, the marketplace typically anticipates a shift in how the company will operate based on the CEO’s pedigree. If they came from operations, there will be a systems and process focus. If they came from sales, there will be an emphasis on that arm of the efforts. If the CEO elevated from marketing … heaven’s knows. Heh.
But that market reaction can teach us a thing or two about understanding the DNA from which our organization works. In the past, I’ve worked with clients whose marketing efforts were spear-headed by classically trained marketers … the Proctor & Gamble set, if you will. You knew working with them that decisions would be based on consumer research and testing, that major programs would be funded appropriately and that they seldom had room for one-off or test efforts that didn’t immediately show a provable revenue stream. I’ve worked with clients whose marketing teams were run by sales professionals who made sure the price or standout unique selling proposition was called out in advertisements in big, neon letters (or black letters in a big, neon starburst) and day-to-day attention was paid mostly to the sales process, numbers and moving people down the funnel.
Knowing where each marketing decision-maker’s head started was a good way to know where their head was presently, and thus helped me communicate my needs and requests appropriately.
As I’ve turned my attentions to a new client, per say, I’ve discovered that DNA question has an interesting manifestation in the online retail world. Internet-based businesses are typically run by marketing teams or functions that have e-commerce or even search engine marketing backgrounds. Their marketing solutions are very different from those of a classically trained or sales-oriented marketer. If you don’t have enough sales in the online world, you do one of two things (typically): You get more traffic or you increase conversions. The answer to the problem of traffic for many internet-based marketers is to go buy it. SEM is the solution du jour. But the answer to the traffic problem can be addressed in other ways, too, though certainly not ways that are as immediately manufactured.
Keep in mind that none of these methodologies are good or bad, superior or inferior. In fact, ideally, you’re using them as compliments to one another in an integrated marketing approach. Need more traffic? Go buy some, but also activate social marketing functions, public relations efforts, advertising and other channels to manufacture more visitors, too. Hopefully, a long-term branding and customer relationship management effort means you have less incidents of “traffic problems” down the road, but if you need to push a button to get more, you’re not just pushing one button.
But it sure is a world of helpful to know which button is your company’s default. That’s the place from which it sees the world and informs most of the major marketing decisions. If that area for your company isn’t necessarily yours, get to know that perspective. It will help you convince your team that there might be different ways to slice that apple.