Ep 6: What is the role of marketing in a business?

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Bryony (00:00):

Like my first experience of marketing was more just thatcreative execution like we would kind of get given. So that was working for abuilding company and I think you basically would just get given what you had todo and it was that run with it and execute it. But that was probably, to yourpoint, still in the time of big advertising dollars. So you're spendingmillions of dollars on advertising every year. So, and I think probably thatwas even before the shift to digital. Digital and that really measurablemarketing.

Helen (00:32):

This is the Startup Reality podcast, bringing you honestconversations with founders, business owners and industry professionals aimedat sharing what it means to find your voice, grow your business, and achievesuccess the way you define it. Whether that's growing your career or starting abusiness. The startup Reality podcast shares insights for the journey ahead.The challenges are awaiting and the strategies used to overcome them. Intoday's episode, I am talking with a good friend of mine, Briney, who has beena marketing leader in the construction industry for quite some time now. Todaywe debate on what the marketing function serves within a business andorganization, how you can structure your teams and how you might want tostructure those teams. But we also discuss how different departments seemarketing and whether or not we need to change that view because we recognizeas marketing professionals and as business owners that the marketing functionis more than the promotion aspect of the marketing piece. But before we begin,in the spirit of reconciliation, the startup reality podcast would like toacknowledge the traditional custodians of country throughout Australia andtheir connections to land, sea, and community. We pay our respects to their elderspast and present and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres StraitIslander people here today. Let's start this conversation and I'll speak to youguys after.

Bryony (02:18):

I think the digital shift has probably sort of helpedmarketers be more strategic, but I also think, yeah, I completely believe thatmarketing and sales should work together. And I also think that the senior,this most senior marketer in the team should be highly operational in terms ofunderstanding the actual business strategy as well. So not even just for likebusiness unit strategies, but like what does the actual company as a wholestand for and how, how does the marketing function support that? So I alwayssee marketing as a support function, but I think use with the data thatmarketing has access to, there's that op like there is that opportunity tocreate operational change and I think a smarter organization or organizationthat recognizes marketing as being more, just more than just pretty picturedrawers, um, is the right environment to kind of stay ahead of the curve.

Helen (03:21):

Yeah, cause like that's how I, I see it too, but I guess Ijust wanted to see whether or not um, or challenge my world view <laugh>,which was recently disrupted <laugh>

Bryony (03:34):

<laugh>. Um, but I think I have this conversationwith people all the time, like, uh, for me the creative execution. Obviously asmarketers we always want to create something beautiful and something that meanssomething, but then I suppose getting down the detail of like for like abrochure and the exact picture that goes on that exact page, I think the valueis more added by understanding the target audience and you know, you don't needa product manager or a, you know, project consultant to be giving you that kindof feedback because realistically, if the operational objectives are being met,then that should all just flow.

Helen (04:17):

And sorry. And so do you think like marketing should notbe afraid of being accountable to those business-based KPIs because we shouldbe confident it that when we understand it, we're developing campaigns that candeliver on those business outcomes otherwise we can

Bryony (04:35):

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Because if I think about it likewhere I am now, the minute I walked into the business, so for example, like aproject that we're launching was just in the like visioning stages and I wasincluded and subsequently, like the marketing manager that's come in underneathme has been included in that initial visioning piece and how the sales strategyis going to work and the timing on releasing to market and all of thoseimplications. And I think it allows a richness of understanding within themarketing team to be able to execute better. I think there's, and then to beable to say be held to those objectives because you understand what the salesstrategy is, so you're able to develop campaigns, whether it's advertisingcreative above the line below the line, like you're able to bring everythingtogether so much better because you've been on that journey from the beginningand been involved and had input.

Helen (05:31):

Yeah. Yep. I'm glad. I'm glad that's how you see theoperations,

Helen (05:36):

Laughing team. Um, yeah, I've got a friend who she's in asimilar um, position as you where she's kind of building the marketing team,you know, from an foreign organization that's growing and then now needs thatmarketing function. And I think, I don't know if in your experience when you'rekind of doing the same thing where you're building the marketing function foran organization, that it actually because people don't understand whatmarketing is, they do think it is a creative department and immediately asshe's joined, um, she's just getting things like, can you create this fly? Canyou do this thing? And it's for her a process of educating that marketing ismore than just advertising. Did you find the same thing when you joinedorganizations that have a a smaller or

Bryony (06:23):

We are 100% going through that process now. So I've beenwhere I am now for nearly five months and now got a team underneath me and I'vejust sort of had a discussion with the directors of the business and said,because the business is rapidly growing and because people have come fromdifferent facets. So we've got people in the business who have never workedanywhere else, who've got people who've come from massive corporateorganizations and like everything in between. So you've got all these individualsin a business who have different concepts of what marketing does. So forexample, like I had someone email me the other day asking me to put time in mydiary to uh, format a tender document in word for them <laugh>. And sothe market, you know, the marketer in me is like, um, that is probably one ofthe most insulting things you can ask someone to do.

Bryony (07:15):

But then at the other scope of that, if he's worked in anorganization where they have had literally like a graphic designer who doesthat sort of stuff for them, then they don't know any difference. So I thinkit's really important from an organizational perspective, I guess really thatwhole like from the top mentality to be empowered to have those marketingleaders empowered to take the teams on a journey. So essentially likeoperationally what I've done is put together I guess a list of what marketing does<laugh> for ease of reference, um, and then I guess whether we are a leadin that process or a stakeholder and whether that is managed internally andexternally because the whole business really needs to understand and it's hard,you can't really blame people or be frustrated if you haven't done thateducation piece with them.

Helen (08:07):

Yeah, no, absolutely.

Bryony (08:09):

But I think the biggest risk you have of MAR is of asmarketers is going into a role regardless of sort of how senior it is andyou're in the interview and they tell you what they think marketing is or theysell you the dream and then you get in there and you do realize that you'rejust a creative department or that you've got someone who's got absolutely nomarketing skills being the person who's delegating that work to you. So I thinkas you know, leaders in shaping what marketing looks like, where you need to bereally careful about what role you choose to go into and understand what you'regetting yourself into.

Helen (08:44):

Yeah, no, that's, and so would you caution marketingmanagers to, to not position themselves as the advertising and creativecreative department in an organization?

Bryony (08:57):

Absolutely. I think as well, like doing whatever you cando to provide the context or to make the jobs easier of those stakeholders totry and avoid that as well. So like, I guess like you were saying your friendsdoing is taking people on that journey to make sure that they have a reallythorough understanding of the processes that you undertake as marketers,whether that things are in-house or outhouse and you know, how that plays out.Um, but I think you've gotta make sure that you're setting up those boundariesquite early so that you don't get pulled into just getting a creative brief andexecuting it without any context. Like making sure the marketing team hasaccess to the context is probably one of the biggest things for me.

Helen (09:43):

Yeah. And I think that like, um, you are right, like Ithink depending on the size, sometimes when you're a small business you thinkmarketing is a graphic designer. So the first skill you hire is a graphicdesigner, but it's not marketing that's just creative services. And then as youstart to grow, then you bring in um, an actual strategic marketer cuz you wantto and you recognize that you don't really understand how to do marketing morebroadly. And then there's this learning curve that you have to go through tounderstand what marketing actually is and how it can help strategically andlead the creative function. Yeah. Um, one of the interesting conversations I'vebeen having about this topic as well is around, while there is a point in whichyou may choose to insource creative elements, which does create that kind ofcreative services arm within the marketing team mm-hmm <affirmative>, um,and you know, there's different views on when that point is, but I guess it'sreally when financially there is so much output from the creative servicesdepartment that your agency fees would outweigh the cost of just bringing in afull-time resource, um, within the marketing department.

Helen (10:57):

And then you kind of have your two arms, your seniormarketing manager with your kind of other marketing managers who arestrategically led from an initiative perspective. And then you have yourcreative services arm, which is your copywriters, your internal copywriters andyour internal design. Do you see that that is something that might happenwithin a marketing team too or would you completely leave that outsource?

Bryony (11:23):

Yeah, it's interesting cuz I've worked in bothenvironments. So I suppose the job that I left, we had a lot of that was insourced. So most of the like basic flyer brochure creation, those bits andpieces, ADMs and like website updates and all that sort of stuff was all donein-house. Whereas where I am now, it's all outhouse. And I think there's acouple of things that kind of play into that is I think the business has to bereally strategic if they decide to in-house creative because as marketers there'sprobably not very many people who are really, really good generalist marketersin terms of then you know, people who are good at copywriting are notnecessarily good at graphic design. And so I think setting that expectationwithin the business that you're not just gonna have the marketing coordinatorwho is a gun and in design but also can, you know, write a bro brochure copy ina couple of hours that's gonna get no feedback on it.

Bryony (12:18):

Um, and I think then also the other part that has beeninteresting for me to kind of get it, have that exposure to, I guess thefinancial side of the business is understanding where that resource is chargedto and how that model works within your business. So, um, for example, whetheryou are recouping those costs of outsourcing through a project management feeor a development fee or something like that, then it means that the companydoesn't have to where the cost of that and if the company is set up to be ableto recharge like that, then that necessity to bring it in-house might just notexist. Um, and I think sometimes it's always the danger of in-house and I feellike every single company goes through those um, sort of ebbs and flows whereeverything gets in-house and then everything gets out housed again. And I thinkit's really hard, particularly then when people leave, if you've got someonewho is really skilled and who knows your brand really well and has been writingand producing this content or creative for a number of years and they leave andyou try and bring that in-house, there's usually that sort of jarringdifference between what was and what's new. Whereas sometimes without housingstuff, you've kind of got that continuation is less y you don't have thatfriction I suppose, when you change team members.

Helen (13:38):

Yeah. Cuz it's not um, person reliant. You're right. And Ithink that that's the value of outsourcing. You get access to many, many moreresources than a single resource because what one person can't do and, and thatteam, another person might be able to assist. Whereas when you hire one personthat that's the skillset that you've kind of got access to. Um, it's the samewith like web development and stuff like that. You can hire an internal webdeveloper or you can utilize an entire team of 20 brains

Helen (14:10):

To, to build your, to build your website and it's gonna bemore, you know, productive and you know more creative than just one person, youknow, not being challenged with I guess the, the output of how they, how theydo that.

Bryony (14:27):

Yeah, absolutely. I suppose CRM and like marketingfunctions relating to C RM is also another huge example. So like you may bringin, in the house a C R M resource but then still use that resource to projectmanage an external agency. That would probably be how I would do it because thesame thing, you've got someone then who has all that knowledge in the businessand if they leave then you are left wide open, you're completely unprotected.Um, and exactly like you've said, why would you not have one resource projectmarketing those 20 minds who are all working together on your CRM or you know, associateprograms, marketing clouds, et cetera.

Helen (15:07):

Yeah, no and I think that then aligns good with um, yourview of the marketing function because then the marketing team internallymanage it, does still do the creative services but manages it through agency.It's not that you don't do it, but you're not redesigning um, word docs toformat Yeah. <laugh> that is not your function <laugh>

Bryony (15:29):

But you no, not a career highlight. Yeah. That's

Helen (15:32):

Not career, it's not what you're gonna put on a resume<laugh>.

Helen (15:36):

Well I mean it's good to know and I think like, um,everyone does run their teams a little bit differently and I think thateveryone kind of sticks to what they're comfortable with. So there are, youknow, structures that obviously I've witnessed now where they like to stick tothe traditional function of being in um, a creative services department. But Ijust think that there's so much risk in limiting your skills and yourpositioning your department there because then it doesn't means also means youdon't have a seat at the table. Yeah. Um, and you lose budget really quicklycuz you're not accountable. Yeah. Like,

Bryony (16:15):

And I just think it makes it like, it makes it so mucheasier to be challenged as a marketing department, right? Like if you can'tactually align what you're doing to financial slash sales or organizationalobjectives, like what leg have you got to stand on? Like we've worked, I feellike, I dunno, maybe this generation of marketers have worked really hard toget out of that rut of just being the the flyer makers, but I think we'vealways had logic behind what we're doing and if you don't have that, you can'tapply that logic, you can't demonstrate that logic, then you are really justdoing yourself a disservice.

Helen (16:50):

Yep. And so <laugh> so with that said, how, howwould you structure your team and does it vary, um, based on organization typeof product? Um, you know, size of company? How do you normally plan onstructuring your team when you have to build teams for organizations?

Bryony (17:08):

Yeah, I think it massively depends on the size of thecompany and I suppose the intelligence for lack of a better word of thecompany. Um, so like you said, if it really is this massive base that justwants to churn and burn collateral, then I would probably be more sort of lowerlevel resource heavy. So have more of your coordination sort of level staff tobe managed by a couple of more senior stakeholders. Whereas it's beeninteresting coming into this role because interestingly enough, when they startedinterviewing me, they'd originally been looking for a coordinator, um, and therecruiter that they were speaking to was like, well the amount of work you needto do, you need someone to come in at the head and set out your strategicobjectives and then build the team underneath that role. And I think even forme, my first recruit was basically the person who would be my like right handperson because I think it's so important if you are gonna have those operationon those strategic objectives to have someone that just gets that, um, and iskind of able to, to run alongside you and disseminate what you wanna do intothose sort of actionable items.

Bryony (18:23):

So for me, the way that I've structured it here is I'vehad sort of the, the key traditionalist marketer, um, and then a key digitalmarketer and basically brought them in and then sort of immediately resourcedthe coordination levels underneath them. And I suppose we've had the luxury ofus being able to, um, take on work as in when we can. So sort of, becausethere's so many divisions within the organization that I'm working for that'sbeen a positive. But I think it's really important not to underestimate thevalue of senior people and making sure that you have enough senior people intheir chosen fields. So again, with the generalist versus traditionalist, Ithink there's such a difference in those two roles now that you would wanna bemindful to make sure that you're sort of catering for the requirements of bothinstead of sort of putting all your eggs in one basket, so to speak.

Helen (19:18):

And there we have it. That was a general view of how youcan structure different marketing teams and how you might transition fromonboarding more junior staff to help with creative execution. And as yourbusiness grows, start to bring on more strategic staff to really look at howthe marketing function can support other areas of your business being yoursales and growth product strategies. Um, the next part we're going to start todiscuss what kind of skills you would need if you do want to um, pursue a marketingcareer and what you might consider when it comes to beginning that path. Whatis your view, and we can close off on this one on if you wanna be a<laugh>, a marketer in this day and age, what are the skills you thinkare now becoming more valuable, but also where do you think that's gonna changeanytime soon and where you think the future of marketing really is fororganizations?

Bryony (20:25):

Um, one of the key ones that I think sometimes gets missedin marketing is the stakeholder management piece. So I think that ability toreally clearly and succinctly articulate what your objectives are, whether thatis strategically or literally with a brochure and you know, why you've putsomething at in a certain place or I guess why you're undertaking a particularcampaign strategy. I think being able to sort of make sure that you can getthat across and get the buy-in with the minimum amount of sort of pushback andquestions is really important. I think it's so with, particularly in businessesthat don't necessarily understand marketing, it can still in this day and agebe so easy to get caught up in, in things that are really are not gonna changethe overall campaign. So I sort of try and take a step back personally and go,well if we make this change, do we think that that's going to change the numberof sales that are made or do we think that we will achieve the, like we'llchange in this like turn the needle, um, on what we wanna achieve with thecampaign or with the project.

Bryony (21:33):

And I think the stakeholder management piece is reallyimportant because you can be the most proficient marketer, but if you can'texplain why you're doing what you're doing to people, then you're never goingto be able to execute or deliver to your fullest ability. Um, I think that willcould really will continue to be important, but I think even just in terms ofas marketers, making sure that we're embedding ourselves in the business asmuch as possible. So I guess personally I've always tried to understand theother facets of the business. So I suppose my background being moreconstruction like making sure that I understand the drafting department andunderstand the estimating department and understand the sales strategies andum, all of the sort of like technical level of details because it gives you awider context and allows you to sort of demonstrate to that business thatyou're willing to go on the journey with them. And I think that that makes iteasier for them to be willing to go on that marketing journey with you. So myadvice would be, yeah, get in, get stuck in and understand as much about theactual business as you can rather than um, just staying in a little marketingbubble. <laugh>

Helen (22:46):

<laugh>. And I think they both go hand in hand. Ithink to your point with um, stakeholder management, the lack of skill in thatarea because of the lack of, um, or I guess for the generalization of whatmarketing actually entails, which quite often people are only associate it withone of the ps, which is promotion as opposed to product and pricing andeverything. Um, I think that if you don't have good stakeholder managements,then you will fall into the trap of becoming a creative service department and thenlimit your own skills and growth opportunities from a career perspectivebecause you haven't done anything strategic given you've been funneled into theconcept of marketing that someone else believes is your function. Yeah. Um, soI think that that's a really good point. Is there, um, misconceptions you thinkthat people who haven't entered the marketing field have with their roles?

Bryony (23:41):

Yeah. That social media will be fun. <laugh>

Bryony (23:49):

Year olds out there who think they're gonna be socialmedia managers, I give them six months and they'll realize it's

Helen (23:59):

I know everyone asks me like social and like I, you know,social to be honest is really brand building and customer service management. Igo, we tried social really early in my days and um, we realized really quicklythat social doesn't convert to sales <laugh>.

Helen (24:19):

And it's all about engagement, which doesn't always leadto revenue. Um, yes. So it's more like brand, it's gotta be tagged with brandbuilding and long tail forms of marketing as opposed to immediate you can'tjust sell, sell, sell.

Bryony (24:33):

Yeah. I think the biggest thing is social is the socialproofing aspect of it. Right? Like it's the validation of something you'realready considering. And so yeah, personally I like am an advocate for it inthat regard, but I just think it's, yeah, so funny that you see thing, peoplethink that they're gonna put a couple of photos on Instagram and that'll be thebest thing ever.

Bryony (24:57):

Can confirm it is not the best thing ever.

Helen (25:02):

Always my approach as well. I always say to people like,the greatest thing about social is that you can almost track and monitor wordof mouth activity. Yeah.

Helen (25:11):

But <laugh> you know, it's not as fun. You know, wehad our, when I was working, you know, at Qantas, I, we had to rotate our staffevery six months on social media. Yeah, yeah. Cause mentally it can be, that's

Bryony (25:30):

That's a lifespan.

Helen (25:38):

As you've heard in our conversation, there are lots ofdifferent ways that you can structure your marketing team and how you can planyour marketing function within your business. However, as you begin yourjourney in business, if you're starting out small, quite often the marketingfunction is a creative service or someone that helps you manage social media orcomplete what you would classify as marketing tasks. Now once your businessbegins to grow, that looks a little bit differently. And that's because marketingshifts from a creative and execution service that supports the business ownerand founder and it shifts to its strategic direction. Now at the beginning as abusiness owner and founder, you are driving the strategic marketing function,um, and direction, which is exactly why you only need junior level staff toexecute on that or freelancers to complete your design artwork. But as you growyour business, you need to avoid falling into the trap of continuing to growyour marketing function In that mindset.

Helen (26:52):

You need to shift and employ marketing skills that arestrategic and aligned to business objectives and take on your vision for thebusiness at an extended level because they're bringing on external marketingspecific strategic advice and experience to the organization. Now within thatteam, there may be a creative services arm a and a strategic arm, but itdepends on how much budget you have and how much, um, you are insourcing andoutsourcing when it comes to marketing material. Now that will look differentif your b2c, B2B or b2, b2c, but it's important to remember however youstructure your marketing team and its functions that marketing is not acreative services department independently. Yes, there are creative serviceelements that may be insourced or potentially outsourced. However, themarketing strategic leader chooses to structure the team depending on yourorganization's budget and the need for creative services. But more importantly,marketing and any marketing leader should play a strategic function within yourorganization. That means that they should bring it, be bringing to the tabletheir knowledge about the customer and contribute to things like return oninvestment as well as sales targets, as well as um, product development andpricing because they know the customer best and they can strategically advisebased on those insights. And that wraps up today's episode. I hope you enjoyedit and I will speak to you guys next time.