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The Case for Marketing Coaching

A Different Way to Work in a Different World

The world changes rapidly and marketing is far from immune. There are basic needs of b2b companies that are not being met. We’re finding that the traditional consulting model simply isn’t working for many medium-sized businesses. Consultative services are viewed as expensive, opportunistic, and somewhat out of touch. This post will cover what we’ve learned, where things are going, and what we should be doing to deliver value to provide businesses with the catalyst for increased efficiency and productivity. It’s a very human process and we’re calling it marketing coaching.

Investing in Success

Many mid-sized businesses, particularly within the technology, finance, and manufacturing verticals, have made a hefty investment in people, systems, and processes. That investment is both long-term and played out month-to-month. While hiring a consultant to take an aspect of their go-to-market process, polish it, and return it to the fold definitely provides significant short-term value, it simply isn’t addressing their longer-term needs, which is their true focus, whether explicitly articulated or not. These companies and these executives are looking to get more from their monthly investment in those people, systems and processes, month-to-month and year-to-year.

The aggravating factor, as any experienced consultant or corporate marketer will tell you, is that in many cases, after the consultative work is done, there’s a bump in results, and then everything goes back to the way it was. This is especially true in the enterprise, but there the focus is on short-term results and not so much on development or longevity.

It’s Our Job to Lead

No wonder that CEOs, CMOs, and CFOs of these mid-sized b2b accounts, view the price tag for that consultative work as expensive and largely ineffective. In the rear view mirror, once burned, twice shy, viewing our proposal with a gimlet-eye.

As independent marketing consultants it’s our job to lead, but much of our industry is stuck in tradition, and is looking at the lever they can pull that will produce the short-term spike in results that justifies the fee. Yes, it’s still viable in some instances, but we need to go deeper. We need to be looking at the lasting improvement of the body politic of the organization, and to achieve that we need to upgrade the knowledge and the capabilities of the employees with their hands on the wheel.

Making Our Clients’ Organizations Stronger, Faster

Our clients want the focus of the consultative engagement to be systemic. Help the organization achieve better short-term results, but use your perspective, expertise, and

experience to upgrade the knowledge and skills of the people and the processes to help build a rosier future.

Our clients want a much more indepth and hands-on approach. Broadly, there are 3 Critical Success Factors (CSFs):

* Assess the strengths and weaknesses of the organization, the processes, the people, and the technology, in a threat-free environment. The emphasis is on the players, not the coach.

* Develop a systemic plan, and timeline, for moving the organization into the future. While this may also encompass segments of the traditional consultative engagement, it means that it’s more important to teach the rank and file how to do it, then for you to take it away and deliver it with a bow. Our consultative training and experience is really the best preparation for this type of engagement, it just means putting on new glasses.

* Define the measurement and reward so the people, and the executives can clearly see the progress. Also, and as a prelude to the next section, nothing happens repeatedly in an organization, there is no long-term change, without measurement and reward.

What’s a Consultant to Do: A Roadmap for Success

To improve the marketing machine we must wrestle with corporate culture. Corporate culture is quicksand that has swallowed many a consultant. Here are 5 tips to navigate the landscape.

1. Walking the Talk. Corporate leadership must be visibly and vocally involved. Change does not happen from the bottom up, only from the top down. If top management does not walk the talk, if they don’t go big, go home.

2. Be an Evangelist. The individuals that comprise the company cannot see the future as clearly as you do. If you want them to sing the song, you must first play it for them. Show them the vision of the future and tell them what’s in it for them. Repeatedly.

3. Finding The Champion. There has to be an internal leader, someone who is in the culture and is respected. When the “water cooler talk” turns snarky, and it always does, who refocuses the conversation. Who leads by example.

4. Identifying the Opposition. Not everyone will get on the bus, no matter where it’s going. There are those that will lay down in the road, even if the bus is going to drive over them. Identify them early in the game.

5. Training, Measurement and Reward. It becomes our job to upgrade the skills and the processes that the employees will need to reach the future vision. Training and coaching must be viewed as a process, not an event. The previous section provided the rational for measurement and reward, and we are underscoring it here as essential.

We are the agents of change

We are the futurists. We have been able to watch the flows and eddies of marketing from a special vantage point, free of the blinders of corporate culture. That gives us the ability to provide value that will help our clients achieve their goals more effectively and efficiently than before. Let’s get to it.

This was originally posted to the MENG blog.

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