As a business leader, has there been a moment where you thought to yourself, "I hate marketing"? Those are strong words, but many leaders face frustration with marketing. For decades, there were limited ways to make the straight-line connection through informed and detailed data on how marketing impacted revenue.
Fortunately, that’s no longer the case. Also, you might have had your marketing team say they provided sales-qualified leads only to see the sales team go back to the usual suspects.
Problem: Perhaps you thought to yourself, "I hate marketing," because your team's tools are powerful but not intuitive and easy to use. Often, direct reports don't like the idea of telling their supervisor or boss, “I don't know.” Or, maybe there’s confusion about what marketing is doing.
Opportunity: Understanding marketing operations could end lost time and unoptimized revenue opportunities. If you believe your marketing team is chaotic, thrives only on the cult of personality, or makes spends that don't tie to the bottom line, realize this: it doesn’t have to be that way.
Solution: By considering your marketing operations carefully and getting in touch with reasons you (or anyone) says, "I hate marketing," you can reorient. Moreover, thoughtfully exploring the challenges will allow you to shift competitively. So, if you identify with any of these reasons, think that it helps inform your thinking for eventually getting more results and revenue growth.
12 Reasons Why Business Leaders Say, “I Hate Marketing”
Let's start with the primary complaint from the c-suite about marketing. Marketing gets perceived as expensive and nothing more than a money pit. As a result, leaders have limited ability to achieve full-funnel accountability. So, let's identify what makes a lot of leaders frustrated with the marketing team, and then we'll conclude with the fundamental shift necessary to align your marketing.
1. It's Difficult to Justify the Cost of the Marketing Team
This idea is probably the primary frustration with marketing. Business leaders see a lot of activity happening in marketing operations; however, they fail to connect how marketing drives sales. Well, fortunately, data is changing the equation. In short, if your marketing team isn't supplying you with lots of data and metrics, you do have a problem. Your marketing group is simply one part of a holistic revenue team that works together to grow sales with a revenue operating system. Meaning, marketing, and sales can't operate in silos.
2. Bad Marketing From Other People
There was a time when marketing was a one-way street. In other words, brands dictated how their audiences received their messages. As we know, that's no longer the case. But, that doesn't mean that bad marketing doesn't exist, which affects your brand. For example, perhaps your vendors use dated approaches (by the way, something from 2 years ago is too old!). Strategic partners could also use outdated methods, and all of it reflects on you. So, take a look at your entire revenue operations, including marketing.
3. Constant Disappointment Between Opportunity and Reality
Has your sales team forecasted revenue that you've consistently missed in quarters? Moreover, you might even have the heads of your marketing and sales teams not liking each other. That's not sustainable, and your company doesn't need to operate in that place. It's vital for everyone, including your marketing team and every person in your entire office, to understand that everyone helps drive sales. The customer experience is critical, reliant on your team culture and digital transformation, with everything getting measured.
4. Lack of Consistency in Execution and Outcomes
Alright, let's say your marketing team has fantastic ideas. Moreover, they understand that they have to be everywhere. For instance, they need to do social media, create communities, and serve external and internal constituents. Still, there's a gap between the plan and the execution and outcomes. As a result, metrics don't get achieved, and yes, your revenue isn't where it could be for your company. How do you handle that issue? You have to learn to optimize your talent. In fact, it's absolutely crucial, even at a time of data and technology.
5. You Get the Excuse that Marketing's Hard to Measure
There's something we know about human behavior. It's predictable. Moreover, unless business leadership leads with the idea of measurement, it won't happen. In other words, your marketing team isn't going to volunteer to measure what they do—unless leadership demands it. In short, you have to know what they do. One of the best things a leader could do is speak to everyone and understand the work. By doing so, you get the total picture, and it helps you integrate ethical AI into your business, which allows for power tech and measurement.
6. A Deluge of Terms and Ideas Non-Marketers Don't Understand
If there's one thing marketing teams love, it is jargon. And while they need to be up to speed on the latest in the urban dictionary and the marketing world, inevitably, it gets non-marketers to throw up their hands and exclaim, "I hate marketing!" Well, here's the scoop. Business leaders must require marketers to leave it at the c-suite door. As leaders need data scientists and engineers to speak in simple terms, it's vital to get marketing teams to translate their world into words everyone in the leadership team understands. Meaning, words matter.
7. The Perception That Marketing Doesn't Understand Sales
The bottom line is that this is a perception—if you have a solid marketing operations team. Excellent marketing teams know they are the foundation of the sales in your company. In other words, they're just as responsible for your bottom line as is the sales group. So, how could you reinforce that idea with your marketing team? One of the strategies is to educate and inform them about sales. Have them select one of the 7 books everyone in sales should read for starters. Another strategy is to involve them in your sales operations meetings regularly.
8. Unclear If All the Activity Is Actually Driving Meaningful Outcomes
The chances are that your marketing team is a hub of activity. That's the way most marketing groups operate because they're creative and relationship-oriented people. However, a lot of action doesn't mean success. Therefore, business leadership has to encourage two things with marketing groups. First, they have to associate their success with sales. Meaning, the teams should have measurable synergies and goals between them. Second, marketing teams must rely on data as a diplomat internally and for c-suite reporting.
9. Disparity Between Marketing Qualified Leads & Sales Qualified Opportunities
Perhaps you faced this situation before with your company. Your company's marketing team decides to promote on Facebook, and people sign-up. However, the leads are worthless when the information gets to your sales team. There's a chasm between marketing qualified leads (MQLs) and sales qualified leads (SQLs) for many companies. The easiest way to resolve the issue is to destroy the wall between marketing and sales. In other words, you have two areas that must develop shared goals and outcomes for leads.
10. Process By Personality Rather Than Defined Systems and Structures
The cult of personality is alive and well in the digital age. With everyone, including executives and markers, exploiting influencer marketing, it's easy to see how people could get frustrated. When everything and everyone is a brand—nothing is a brand. So, what's the simplest way to cut that noise? First, pay attention to whether or not your personality culture is stalling revenue growth. Second, get serious about creating defined systems and structures by leaning into technology and business process management.
11. An Ever-Increasingly Complex Tech Stack, Including in Marketing
We all see it every day. Technology is impressive, and it's making the impossible possible. However, it's also challenging businesses in ways never imagined. There was a time when people learned tech and then used that tech (without changes) for a year or two. That's no longer the case, and even processes and tech of 6 months ago could be outdated. Inevitably, it means a tech stack that gets infinitely more complex. So, what do you do? You need to recruit and retain people with high levels of curiosity and emotional intelligence.
12. Lack of Alignment with Sales
As we sum up our list of why people hate marketing, the final reason is that there's often a lack of alignment with sales. Of course, as noted throughout this article, that's a mistake. Marketing is the foundation for the sales operation team. Therefore, these areas cannot operate without close and overlapping alignment in goals, processes, and outcomes. It's up to business leaders to foster that synergy between the marketing and sales teams. Marketing needs to be clear about what it does for sales and what's expected and vice versa. Moreover, they have to agree on lead scoring and sales follow-up.
Changing Your Perspective About Marketing
Ultimately, if you shift your perspective from marketing, sales, and service as individual teams to the spokes of the same wheel, your revenue growth will head in a positive direction. Your marketing and sales team has to become the go-to-market team. Moreover, they must see themselves as the spear's tip for new leads that fuel sales.
Your marketing group must get empowered to believe they are the glue that sustains the company. They do it by raising awareness, generating sales qualified leads, and helping to maintain healthy client relationships. When marketing and sales align, it maximizes profit and the lifetime value of your customers over time.
So, how do you achieve it? First, put everything out in the open about your marketing operations, sales, and other areas in need of alignment. Data strategy and gathering have to be systemic and company-wide. Ultimately, however, you must bring your company into a digital transformation that likely leads to the idea of revenue operations.
Ben Stroup is Chief Growth Architect and President at Velocity Strategy Solutions where he helps leaders design, develop, and deploy smarter business growth strategies. Ben is a futurist, disruptor, and data champion. He leads a team that takes a structured learning approach to business challenges, which allows them to assist leaders in bridging the gap between ideas, innovation, and revenue—taking ideas from mind to market.
Velocity Strategy Solutions is an on-demand, next-generation business strategy and management consulting firm which provides clients with a relentless focus on data, execution, and results that positively impact the bottom line. Velocity delivers integrated people and revenue strategies combined with a disciplined approach to growth architecture that elevates the capacity of leaders, teams, and organizations to succeed and win more.