How to build credibility for your marketing team

For any team to be a success, you have to build credibility throughout your organisation. That way, colleagues will trust that you know what you’re doing and see you as a useful partner.

Marketing teams are a challenge because there’s a big misconception about what marketing teams are for, and because everyone thinks they understand marketing, even if they don’t.

So if want to build credibility, how do you go about it? Here are five key techniques.

1. Build in wins

Any team trying to establish itself needs to drip-feed wins. There are always challenges that are going to say some time to overcome, but to keep everyone’s confidence you can’t wait for them to deliver wins.

Instead, while you do the difficult and time-consuming programmes of change, you need simultaneously to be delivering a steady stream of quick wins. These keep everyone off your back. It helps people view you as a winner and makes them more likely to think your change management plans are worth backing.

2. Over-communicate

Many hard workers prefer to keep their heads down and get on with the work. This is a mistake: you need to over-communicate your vision for change, otherwise you will not get support for it.

Any company meeting is an opportunity to share why change is necessary and what your team is doing to drive success. Moreover, you need to communicate what the marketing team is actually for – not the colouring-in department, there to produce leaflets and branded pens for people, but a strategic function that drives revenue.

What’s your programme of change and do people really understand it?

3. Make marketing data-led

There is no place for the fluffy approach to marketing, in which marketers say things like: “We don’t need to look at data. I feel instinctively that the campaign worked.” Research by analysts at Fournaise found that 80 per cent of marketers struggle with being able to demonstrate the effectiveness of marketing.

Fournaise said that result was that: “Every Tom, Dick and Harry is a marketer, lacking the scientific and financial knowledge expected of marketers to optimise the creative aspect of the discipline.” Ouch!

In the modern world: no data, no credibility.

4. Understand cashflow

A popular argument these days is that marketers are too short-termist and that should focus more on long-term brand building that will pay off in the end. It gets trotted out by marketers running campaigns that have no positive effect in either the short or long term.

In fact, the leading proponents of the view that we should be less short-termist, in their report The Long and the Short of It, point out that the advertising that delivers long-term brand building also drives sales in the short-term.

In fact, marketers need to be cognisant of cashflow. It is not realistic to expect companies to fund bigger budgets on the aspiration that years in the future a benefit might materialise.

In an important article from the year 2000, Drayton Bird wrote about what went wrong with so-called Dot-com companies, who had suffered a crash, and it has been significant in my thinking not just of internet companies but of scale-ups more generally:

Many of the dotcommas rightly want to build a brand. But they have it all the wrong way round. First get the sales. If the service is good, the brand will follow. What use is a brand if you’re broke? Ask Hoover [who had “grown” the brand with a catastrophic free flights offer].

Even a huge success such as Direct Line took years to climb from nowhere to being a big brand. It understood the importance of getting across the message of its unique positioning. Every ad got response and built the brand.

You want as a marketer to create long-term relationships, but if you’re not paying back your marketing investment in a reasonable timeframe there’s a problem.

5. Accountability

Lots of people don’t want to take accountability. They fear it – they want to make the decisions, but see everyone else as being to blame if they don’t work out. But taking accountability is a wonderfully liberating and empowering thing. In marketing teams, that means being a department that drives and delivers business outcomes, not just getting through a tick list of actions.

When you consider that effective marketing programmes are an iterative process in which learning constantly takes place, I believe that being accountable, far from being scary, is actually a good way to set yourself up for success.