Let’s say you need to talk about marketing with a non-marketing executive. How should you do it?
Don’t talk about marketing.
My life-long empirical study shows this: Most executives are suspicious of the marketing advice they receive. Why?
To quote one exec, “They keep talking about all this friggin’ marketing.”
Through my workshops and consulting, I spend a lot of time with C-level executives who don’t have a marketing background. They are skeptical when marketers sell marketing ideas as marketing ideas, and not as business ideas. They are skeptical when marketers look at a marketing budget as an entitlement, and not as an investment. And they are skeptical when marketers talk about marketing as a secret, magic formula, that only marketing professionals can understand.
My advice, if you need to sell a non-marketing executive on a marketing idea: Don’t talk about marketing.
Talk about business issues that matter. Talk about the business results your marketing program is designed to generate. Talk not about what your marketing program does, but what it does for the business.
If you want to sell a C-level executive on a customer loyalty program, don’t talk first about frequency of communications, and (please!) don’t talk about database technology. Focus on the untapped latent profit in your existing customer base.
If you want a new budget to focus on social media, don’t talk about social media as a mega-trend, and how it is important to show your customers you “get it.” Focus on how peer-to-peer marketing capitalizes on your company’s strength in gaining business through customer referrals.
Many marketers are reticent when it comes to talking about results because many of their most important programs can’t be tied directly to results; it’s hard to show how many customers came to you because of a story in the New York Times, or because you got more sign-ups on your Facebook fan page. But that’s all the more reason to talk about results. Because direct results are hard to demonstrate, it’s important to show that you have created marketing strategies that aim for the right results. A strategic foundation can build confidence when direct, measurable results don’t exist.
Change the frame of reference. If you have a business conversation, and not a marketing conversation, the person with whom you are speaking will be much more receptive to your marketing ideas.