Human Marketing – Why It Still Matters
I was lucky enough to take part in a really interesting Zoom call yesterday with Women on Boards. It was a call designed to help women find NED or Board Advisory positions, and as this is something I’m looking to do, I joined in. It was great hearing from the speakers, Shane Reading and Nicola Mann about their experiences and to hear their advice about getting offered these kinds of roles. What really stood out for me was the need to be authentic and to be really clear about what you can offer to the founders of a business and how you can help them. Nicola talked about how founders are often specialists in the discipline that the business offers – so, if it’s a technology business, they are likely to be highly technical, for example. This can mean that a NED or Board Advisory position that offers a specific area of expertise (such as marketing!) can be attractive for them. They may not want a full time Marketing Director; but may need help aligning their strategic vision for the business with the delivery mechanisms needed to deliver it – which could be a marketing strategy, transformation, automation or even just ops and process. Interesting stuff. And by the way, both ladies said putting yourself out there on your network to say you’re actively looking for these types of roles is a first step, so here I am, putting my hand up! 😉
It occurred to me that even with things like finding a board advisory or NED position, it’s all about relationships. In fact, I would go so far as to say that *any* marketing is about human relationships. No matter how much we focus on the data points, the marketing automation systems, the content and messaging, the jargon and the hype – out there at the end of the marketing chain is one person buying a service or product from another person. Lots of clever background work might have gone into the insight about what would help tip that person over from a prospect to a customer but that’s only a part of the process. The essential truth is that it’s a human connection. It’s why, despite all the marketing in the world, 89.5% of deals are still closed by a salesperson (Forrester).
The work I’ve really enjoyed the most over my nearly 20 years of marketing has been connecting the business owners or leader’s vision with relationships – usually with their most valuable customers or prospects, but also with their teams. Working in the channel is all about relationships. It feels like quite a small pond in some ways and I’m lucky enough to have worked with some great leaders and teams in my time.
Working with vendors and helping them connect better with their channel partners is one of the most rewarding relationships to build. At Sage, I had the opportunity to do that on a global scale with the first Partner Account Based Marketing program. The partners I worked with had been Sage partners for years, and for many of them a large portion of their business was built around Sage and their X3 offering. So, working in a dedicated way with them to help them identify how to better target prospects for their own business, build out messaging, collateral and work alongside them to deliver long term marketing campaigns was immensely satisfying. It also helped turn those already valuable partners of Sage into even more successful partners! By helping the partners grow, of course, Sage also sold more product as well as strengthening and supporting those partner relationships.
Strategic alliances is another key area which I think is really interesting. When vendors or distributors are working closely with strategic alliance partners to take a joint proposition to market, it often falls into a hole, or can be poorly executed. The reason for this is that both sides of the equation usually have their own marketing teams and collateral – but no-one is able to produce something that really brings the two sides together and looks at it from the point of view of their joint customer. What does the alliance offer that neither party can bring on their own? The sum of the alliance is usually much greater for the end customer, but sometimes this can be hard to articulate. Again, it’s the human relationship angle that can be missing. Turning the proposition on its head and looking at it from the customer point of view is a 101 lesson in Account Based Marketing. Strategic alliances are ripe for this kind of approach because the relationships are already intrinsically valuable and being able to leverage them more produces a win for the vendor, strategic alliance or channel partner and the customer.
So, I thought it was worth putting it out there. Don’t get distracted by marketing technology which is easy to spend a *lot* of money on and execute poorly. Don’t get distracted by the next big thing in marketing jargon. Instead, focus on what you are trying to do as a business. Do you want to grow? Who with and how? Want to reach new markets? Build a channel? Focus on your relationships – the ones you have and the ones you want to create. Who are the people on the other side of the table from you and how can you connect with them better? If you do this well, your success will follow. It’s not rocket science, it’s #humanmarketing