4 Non-Marketing Skills You Need to Become a Better Marketer

become a better marketer

By Kerry Gorgone, {grow} Contributing Columnist

Marketing isn’t a department. It needs to be a way of life throughout your organization.

  • Human Resources needs to market the company to prospective applicants.
  • Product development must make a quality deliverable or marketing will prove impossible.
  • Operations (including finance and legal) impact which tools, channels, tactics, and campaigns are ultimately approved.
  • Customer Service plays a huge role in retaining (or losing) existing customers.

To truly become a better marketer, you need to work with all of these departments and learn to speak the language of these disciplines.

Here are a few things to think about to be taken seriously and have an impact across your organization.

Human resources: promote the value—and values—of your company

Your company can’t be the best in your industry without the best team: attracting top talent is a key function of any organization.

  • Understand your company mission. Every marketer must understand what drives their own company. Beyond marketing goals, ask yourself: what is your company trying to achieve? Armed with the answer…
  • Promote your mission through content. Each piece you create should have heart to it. Even promotional emails or e-books can reinforce your mission to help your customers. Let this mission be heard in the words you choose and the copy you write.
  • Create content about your culture and people. Not all content created by marketing has to be marketing content. Pull back the curtain and highlight your talented people, the events you’ve attended, the charities you support, and the beliefs that help drive your team.

By supporting HR this way, marketers help to attract talent, improve brand perception, and potentially even reduce the cost of recruitment by using content to expand the applicant pool. 

Legal: Respect others’ copyrights

I’ve written extensively on legal aspects of marketing on this site and on my blog, but there are a couple of basics that will make your relationship with legal more amicable.

Respect other people’s copyrights: don’t copy/paste other people’s content onto your company’s blog or use images you found on Google search to dress up the company website.

  • Use your own images and videos. The best way to ensure that your content is cleared through legal is to create it yourself. Large enterprises have hundreds of employees who can contribute photos for company use, but even small teams can easily create images and video content with a smartphone or tablet and a couple of mobile apps for editing.
  • Embrace user generated content (“UGC”). You could also let your audience help you to create content: this helps to ease your company’s content burden and also results in more effective marketing. According to one survey, eighty-five percent of users find visual UGC more influential than brand photos or videos, which is one more reason to welcome your audience’s content contributions.  Make sure to verify that the person who submitted the content actually owns it, and review the picture or video closely to screen out any submittals that include third-party content like copyrighted music or movie clips.
  • Use stock photos (if you must). I’m not a big fan of stock photos, but if your only choices are searching Google or buying images through a service like iStockphoto, then by all means, use stock images. You can also use images released under a Creative Commons license (with commercial use allowed). Sites like Pixabay offer searchable databases of images you can use.

That’s a pretty good start, but you get bonus points if you work with the legal department to create a standard set of rules for giveaways and a template agreement for working with influencers.

Operations: Align marketing goals with financial/legal best practices

True confession time: finance was one of my worst subjects in business school. I’ve been known to say that my personal version of hell involves financial reports. But it really is necessary for marketers to understand some finance and refer to some of the same business metrics the finance team does.

  • Don’t talk about clicks, talk about KPIs. Shared goals and a common vocabulary create a shared sense of purpose and enable everyone to row in the same direction.
  • Get specific people authorized to post, act, or respond. Everyone at your company is a representative of the brand, but they can’t all have the authority to post on behalf of the company—your organization’s stakeholders want to ensure a cohesive brand voice. This means you need to choose one or two key people that all internal teams trust to approve campaigns, ad copy, social media posts, etc. If everything has to go through legal, you’ll be the very opposite of “agile,” but that doesn’t mean everyone on the marketing team should be able to make key decisions.
  • Your finance team and CEO don’t care about Likes, email sign-ups, or share of voice. They care about return on marketing investment, revenue and sales, reduced costs, and improved cash flow. Speak their language and align marketing goals so they feed directly into these broader business goals.

For example, Ben Kaplan, director of mobile strategy and product at the American Cancer Society, championed the development of a new mobile app for the organization. The app streamlined the user experience, increased engagement, and brought the company plenty of social reach, but the key benefits were operational. The new mobile app increased revenue 80% over the previous year.

As if that wasn’t enough to cause a stir at the board meeting, the app also enabled users to scan checks, the most commonly used method of donation. By improving the app’s check scanning capability, American Red Cross saved money it would otherwise have spent on check scanning machines and personnel.

Customer service: Work to retain customers

One moment can make or break your relationship with a customer and create years of positive or negative buzz.

  • Give employees flexibility on how they handle customer complaints. Appeal to the executives at your company to give all employees some leeway to appease unhappy customers. If they have a solution they know the customer will like, they should be able to take action instead of seeking approval from above.
  • Encourage employees to surprise and delight customers. Empower employees to surprise customers now and then—upgrade someone’s subscription, give them VIP status, or send a handwritten thank-you note. Small gestures can make a big impact.

Great marketing isn’t just about copywriting and analytics—the best marketers take a more holistic view of their role in the business. So learn the lingo of your colleagues in other departments, focus on the way other teams impact marketing goals, and help them to help you achieve marketing success.

kerry gorgone

Kerry O’Shea Gorgone is a writer, lawyer, speaker and educator. She’s also Director of Product Strategy, Training, at MarketingProfs. Kerry hosts the weekly Marketing Smarts podcast. Find Kerry on Twitter.

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