Last week, a client thanked me for getting a project up and running without delays and unnecessary meetings. This meant the world to me as it brought me back to my purpose: I want to make marketing flexible and affordable for growing businesses. I want to do stuff that gets results.
This feedback reminded me of how many times marketing is unnecessarily complicated, usually coupled with being slow, expensive and ineffective. I find it so disheartening when I work with a business that went down the route of big agencies, costly consultants or layers of approval, and it didn’t work out.
But I’m not perfect. And this feedback reminds me of all the times I’ve been involved in expensive, lengthy and over-complicated marketing projects. I didn’t brief the agency properly or I had way too much on the go and didn’t prioritise or even worse - I didn’t challenge or question the process.
So, with my purpose in mind, my learnings from past experiences and feedback from when I get things right, this is what’s on my mind about uncomplicating marketing.
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Focus and priorities
Whether it’s age, experience or the power* of being a business owner, I aim to have one big goal with clients and prioritise the one thing I can do to make an impact. I have five clients at the moment, and when I worked in-house I usually had 3-5 business units/departments/products at any time. For me, that’s a good balance of focus and variety.
Things become complicated when a business has multiple goals and I find myself spending a week incrementally moving 10 things forward and feeling as though I’ve achieved very little. I get more done (and feel more fulfilled) by prioritising one thing and spending a decent chunk of time finishing this and then moving on.
*There’s power in being a business owner because when I worked in-house, I had very little control over my diary or my workload. Sometimes it felt like the only way to get through everything was to work extra hours which inevitably resulted in lower-quality work for my employer and burnout for me.
A great, simple product
Marketing a great product with dated branding from an established business which customers love? I love this type of client. Marketing a flashy product which doesn’t work and customers hate? Avoid.
I’ve worked in businesses where no one can simply summarise what the business does or sells. This creates a lot of work. Some years ago, I became fed up with this and started introducing key messaging documents at work. We all agreed what the product was called, what it did and how we described it to customers. This cut out lengthy approvals and stopped the spread of 15 different but varying descriptions of the same thing.
A great product and a simple message will save you so much time.
Sidenote: I’ve also been in a position where I’ve had to market a product which customers hated. In this case, marketing resource is better spent on improving the product rather than promoting it. In this case, through customer research, feedback and restructuring customer comms.
When I have a mentee who feels as though they aren’t appreciated, or things are moving slowly, I always ask: are you sharing your work internally?
Communication is part of why marketing is sometimes so complicated. When you haven’t done what you said you would, or things aren’t going to plan, the easy option is to hold out and share once you’re ready.
I’ve stopped doing this. I love the accountability of sharing progress and I share as I go along.
This doesn’t mean meeting every day or constantly asking for or sharing updates. There’s a balance between focus and sharing which gets work over the line.
On a related note
This year marks 15 years in B2B marketing for me and a lot has changed since 2008. I wrote about what I’ve learned and Better Marketing published the article:
Here’s to the next 15 years!
A great post Veronica- and happy 15th Anniversary 🥳 your tip reminded me that a simple description is always better than an over complicated one. Might have to revisit my copy soon 😅
Really interesting, thank you for sharing Veronica! I love the passion and enthusiasm for your work that shines through here ✨