The digital revolution has changed everything for marketers. Over the past few years, we’ve been given more power and more leverage within our organizations. And that power and leverage has brought with it sky-high expectations.
Marketing now has a seat at the executive table, working alongside the C-suite to not only deliver on its traditional short-term KPIs but also facilitate the brand’s long-term vision. This means that every day we must communicate marketing’s value to key stakeholders and department heads—all of whom have different interests and concerns.
To do this successfully, we need to think about what occupies each of these stakeholders’ thoughts, what they want to hear, and what we can offer them in pursuit of their own goals.
In short, we need to change the way we think and talk about marketing, creating a new, cross-functional language capable of articulating marketing’s importance and value to everyone in the organization.
What Are You Trying To Prove With B2B Marketing?
Before we think about the way we talk about marketing, we need to be clear about the value we provide and how we measure that value.
Measurement is a huge part of marketing. We use metrics to validate decisions and explain the need for and value of our activities. Additionally, we use metrics to gain new insights that help us disrupt old processes and kickstart innovation.
It’s these things that our new marketing language needs to convey to the C-suite. But are we sure we’re measuring the right areas?
The truth is, as marketing has changed, what we need to measure has changed too. Goals like generating MQLs and SQLs—although still relevant—are now too shortsighted for a department that has an impact across the wider organization. They should still be measured, but viewed as touchpoints in a wider customer journey.
As an alternative, we should be looking at more holistic metrics; metrics that show how performance aligns with intentions, the influence of the marketing department on customer actions, which programs and channels perform best, and how to make marketing growth and customer satisfaction more predictable and consistent.
Our Native Tongue
So, what is traditional marketing language? How do we talk about what we do right now?
For the most part, marketing speak has been entrenched in “funnel talk” for eons. We talk about top-of-funnel (TOFU), middle-of-funnel (MOFU), and bottom-of-funnel (BOFU) engagement—and that’s fine, to an extent. But with the evolving role of the marketing department, the traditional funnel has become overly simplistic and outdated.
The traditional funnel’s problem is that it views marketing merely as a supplier of leads to sales. It doesn’t fully explore its impact on the wider business or cover those harder-to-pin-down metrics like marketing-assisted revenue.
The reality of modern marketing is it has an impact at an operational, departmental, and enterprise level. And the way we speak about it needs to reflect that.
At an operational level, that means:
- Talking about campaign results
- Reducing cost per lead
- Integrating campaigns across channels
When we move up to departmental considerations, the conversation becomes about:
- Improving marketing ROI
- Boosting contributions to the sales pipeline
And when we talk about enterprise considerations, we must focus attention on:
- Growing revenue
- Increasing market share
- Improving margins
We’re All Multilinguists
Being able to articulate all of this is like being fluent in several languages—because the stakeholders we deal with all have different needs and want to hear different things.
The executives want to hear about predictable, profitable revenue growth. Sales VPs want to hear about your contribution to the pipeline. CFOs want to know about your department’s ROI. Sales directors want to know about SQLs. And sales reps want to hear about the most qualified leads.
On any given day, you’re talking to a minimum of five different departments. And you have to be on the same page, speaking the same language as all of them.
Creating A New, Unifying Dialect
So, if the way we currently talk about marketing is outdated, what should our new language look like?
For starters, let’s focus on these three rules:
- Steer away from outdated metrics and the traditional marketing funnel. We know that customer journeys don’t just have three stages, and we know that they’re not always linear. So, let’s move away from any language that suggests they are. Instead, align the marketing department with the diverse and wide-ranging set of corporate goals it actually tackles.
- Articulate to all stakeholders how marketing drives revenue and meets the goals of all the key departments across the organization. Concentrate on the metrics that provide insights into what matters the most to these people. And that means every one of them. Have at least one key metric for each key stakeholder.
- Focus on metrics that look at overall trends—like improvements in performance over time. If we can illustrate this, the influence of the marketing department will continue to grow for years to come.
For more tips on creating top-notch B2B marketing strategies, download this customizable program plan template.