You Likely Suffer from a Distorted Perspective of Marketing’s Worth 240422.highres.seatatthetable

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You Likely Suffer from a Distorted View of Marketings Worth



I have followed Tom Fishburne’s Marketoonist blog for years and always appreciate the direct and pointed insight he provides. This one about Marketing Seat at the Table really struck a chord with me.  

He explains that nearly 50% of companies with less than 250 employees don’t have a marketer on their leadership team, and when it does exist, it’s “often poorly understood and respected.” I imagine the number and lack of understanding in small-medium insurance agencies and solution providers climb precipitously. 

Often, people conflate marketing with sales, thinking marketing is responsible for sales revenue. While this may be the case for mature direct-to-consumer organizations, it’s a very different story for B2B service organizations such as insurance agencies and solution providers. These companies have sales teams whose job is to sell in one-to-one advisory roles, while marketing supports the sales efforts to bring in new business with brand awareness and product/industry education. 

In this B2B scenario, marketing can do all the awareness-building activities, but if the sales team doesn’t do one-to-one outreach and close deals, no sales happen. Marketing is sales support; it’s not the deal-closing team.  

This doesn’t mean, however, that marketing can’t or doesn’t influence new and retained company revenue. They absolutely do if they do it right. For marketing to have the greatest impact on revenue, they must: 

  • Be crystal clear on the company’s business model, understanding how revenue is generated and retained.  
  • Know who the ideal client is and what their driving factors are that influence them to make decisions. What is happening in the buyer’s company that makes your solution necessary or desirable?  
  • Understand the market factors at play for your service to be meaningful to the buyers and watch fluctuations and trends. The more marketing stays current and helps lead clients, the better the content they can produce. Leading clients with insights will be far more attractive to buyers than reacting to things already happening and obvious in the market. 
  • Measure factors showing marketing's contribution to the sales effort and revenue production. Track and review numbers such as page views, engagement, subscribers, followers, and people who score as a sales-qualified lead. 

The “make it pretty” dilemma  

Marketing is too often looked at as a nice-to-have function that is only added when there is slack in the budget. Unfortunately, it's seen as something that simply provides decoration on what serious people in the company do, and it’s not viewed as a critical function influencing revenue generation.  

An industry friend eloquently explained this misdirected view of marketing: “We’re viewed as the arts and crafts department.”  

I started my career in tech, and it was 180 degrees from insurance. Marketing and engineering were critical and respected departments – engineering developed the product based on the requirements that marketing and sales established. As the combined marketing/sales team, we had leadership representation, understood the business model, and had the pulse on the customer, so it made us the connection point to bring it all together.  

In a total shock to my system when I moved into insurance, I was often introduced with great enthusiasm as the person “who makes our documents look pretty.” What??

It got worse.  

I was asked to sit on a panel of “marketing folks” at my first industry conference. A handful of agencies that had marketing people were asked to show the other agencies in the room what it was like to add marketing to their operations. It was a group of all women on stage – I was the oldest and most seasoned at 33. We looked out into an audience of mostly men who were the owners and salespeople.  

The facilitator asked leading questions and cut us off after we said anything that fit a narrative of making documents look pretty or supporting the men in their sales roles. It was humiliating. I had never been treated in such a gendered way and with such disrespect as a professional.  

After the session, an agency owner approached me with a genuine interest in what marketing could do for his agency. In quite a contemplative way, he said, “I’ve got a little gal in the office who may be able to do this.” 🤯 The layers of insult he packed into that one sentence were impressive.  

Looking back on it, I’m surprised I stayed in the industry after that. But instead of leaving, I used it as fuel to prove them wrong (which I did) and improve the marketing narrative and how it should be approached as a foundational business practice.  

Marketing messaging is business messaging 

When you talk with me about marketing, you will not get the “arts and crafts” message. You’ll get the “marketing is the communication of your business model” message.  

Marketing plays such a critical role in an organization. The abysmal participation numbers and lack of strategy show leadership’s ignorance in understanding the role marketing should play in supporting the business.  

Marketing is the communication of your business model.

Think about that for a minute and let it really sit with you. It’s the most obvious, yet not used, definition of marketing. You want people to know what you do and how you do it (your business model) and understand how it’s useful to them (why they should care). If the leaders are not obsessing over how this message is communicated, they’re out of touch with the importance of creating meaningful connections with their audience.  

Marketing is sales support.

It’s getting and keeping your name in front of your ideal target market, buyers, and clients. It is preparing your buyers to have a conversation with your sales team by sharing similar ideas and messages they will hear when they talk with your team – the message should be the same.  

Yes, visuals are important 

Having both visuals and messaging is critical; I’m not suggesting otherwise. But too often, it’s only viewed as just one or the other –  

  • Make it look pretty, and surely it will attract the attention we need.   
  • Just make it say what we want; no one cares what it looks like. 

We are complex beings with different learning styles and ways of perceiving information. What works for one person on your team will not satisfy your ideal target market. Create messages that stimulate multiple senses and accommodate multiple learning methods.   

Marketing as strategy 

If you feel that maybe, perhaps, you’ve had some of these “marketing is fluff” thoughts, I encourage you to rethink the role it could potentially play for your company. When you view marketing as a foundational business practice that provides strategic direction for connecting with buyers and clients, you have a whole other avenue for driving meaningful engagement. 

I can’t think of anything more important to a business than getting the right message at the right time in the right way in front of the right audience. To do it well requires both sales reaching out to people through their one-to-one activities and marketing stimulating the senses through their one-to-many activities.  


Content originally published on Q4intelligence

Photo by olgaviva

Cartoon (c) 2024 by Tom Fishburne at Marketoonist