Nick Hayes: Where do marketing depts. get their steer from?

Nick HayesI’ve never understood why marketing depts. don’t put far more effort into understanding their company’s prospects and customers. I say ‘far more effort’, but in fact, most don’t put any effort into it. Many marketing depts. aren’t even allowed to go anywhere near their customers and prospects – the sales team like to very carefully control who goes near them. The gulf between most sales and marketing functions within any organization means that there’s very little knowledge transfer going on there. Where do marketing depts. get their steer from? The truth is it’s mostly from other marketers – whether in-house co-workers, hired contractors or industry competitors. No wonder there’s so little insight going on.

So marketers are left to pretty much guess how their customers’ buying decisions are made. And let’s face it – all too often that shows.

Do marketers not believe that they need to understand how buyers’ decisions are being made, or what trends there are in how companies make those decisions? I assumed not, no matter how bizarre that seems. It now appears many are well aware of this shortcoming – they’re just not doing anything about it.

Take a look at Adobe’s extremely interesting recent survey of 1000 U.S. marketers. Called ‘Digital Distress – What Keeps Marketers Up At Night?’, the headline finding was that the number one concern for marketers was reaching their customers! Or rather their apparent awareness that they’re failing to reach their customers (82% rated this No.1 concern).

Only 40% thought their company’s marketing was being effective – a terrible indictment but none too surprising.

Perhaps a greater admission came when questioned about from where Marketing Decision-Makers choose to get their marketing advice. At 23% the top response was from their in-house marketing colleagues (who by default would be junior to them), then their Agencies (19%), Industry Associations (17%), External Peers (17%) and Industry Publications (15%).

I think we can paraphrase these findings. Marketers could do a whole lot worse than talking directly to their prospects and customers. What are they looking for?, When do they know they have a problem?, How do they set about resolving it?, What do they want to see from their suppliers?, How do they make their choices?, etc. etc. That would be a great starting point – and it’s clearly a thousand miles from what’s happening now.

For the (highly recommended) Adobe report go to: http://blogs.adobe.com/conversations/2013/09/digital-distress-what-keeps-marketers-up-at-night.html