Prepping for the annual sales kick-off (SKO) can be tricky. How do you pitch your campaign idea? How can you get buy-in without having a campaign redesigned in front of you? Should you be more aggressive and suggest you can deliver more revenue than in the budget? How can you get the sales team to stick to the plan and not run off to do their own thing?
These are the challenges we face as marketers, and I’m facing them as I prepare for this year’s SKO. Working in a process-driven environment, like I am, can be a bigger challenge. Why? Because marketing is rarely viewed as a process-based profession. How can you get marketing to be seen as the growth driver rather than the colouring-in department?
The marketing profession is often seen as the exact opposite to the process-driven thinking of project management. We are expected to be creative even when we don’t have a creative bone in our body. We’re expected to provide the inspiration, not the perspiration. I wonder, however, is there something that we can learn from our project- and process-obsessed brethren?
A process is a combination of inputs to create an output that generates value. For marketers, that means inputs that become outputs for the customer. Transforming knowledge, information and data about the consumer (the inputs) means an output that results in a new feature or benefit – or even product. It’s not a bad definition of marketing.
On researching this, I found that some of the biggest brands in the world use a process-based methodology for building brands, which is not surprising. When you are building blockbuster brands, I guess you don’t want to wait for the muse to arrive for inspiration. Marketing as a series of tools and methodologies – as opposed to the creative, storytelling metaphor in vogue today – is the platform for long-term success.
Codifying this process is the real way to distil the tools and methodologies required to build brands, just like it is for my chart-obsessed work colleagues in making sales. Taking the consumer insight and continuously trying to turn this into innovation and brand communications requires a discipline that only the best do on a regular basis.
Part of my problem in prepping for the sales kick-off is that I’m not speaking the process language of the management audience. They are expecting a ‘big bang’ whereas what we need is progress.
Perhaps trying to convince, cajole and reason will never work with the team until I tap into the SKO audience’s existing set of perspectives of their world and work as a set of processes. Time to chuck the old PowerPoint slides, and create a new set.