They No Speak Marketing

As I patiently wait for Rosetta Stone and Google Translate to launch their "learn the language of marketing apps," l am reminded nearly daily that the language of marketing can be a tough one for internal stakeholder groups to appreciate. As a marketer, how close to reality is the language you speak (and the metrics you so proudly report), appreciated by your key stakeholders…… and to be honest, and frankly speaking, does anyone really care? 

Whose responsibility is it anyway to ensure that the language of SQLs, ROAS, and CAC (all notably and respectfully representing the science of marketing and hopefully tremendous results) are all adequately translated to executive stakeholders in a way that helps them value the work at hand, its value to the company's mission, and selfishly enable you to garnish more human and financial resources to feed the marketing ROI engine? Well, it's YOUR responsibility!

Owning proper stakeholder communication is not a new nor always easy concept. In fact, linguists tell us that formal language, enabling a means to standardize a better understanding of each other, has been around for over 100,000 years. One hundred thousand years to evolve into a "marketing society" that will soon have college courses focused on 130-character, emoji, and texting language... boy oh boy, now that's progress. Well, how far off are we as marketers in the language we have created? Especially when it's said, according to the Fournaise group out of London, that 80% of globally polled B2B CEOs don't trust marketers.

So be very conscious of how you translate marketing goals and success metrics to your key stakeholders. Although there are many with experience as trained or experienced marketers (those who can genuinely appreciate LTV and bounce rates), most have varying appreciation levels for what you hold so dear. 

In the end, don't hold your breath for that above-mentioned marketing translation app to be commercially available but go ahead and use these 3-pointers...

  1. Be Proactive. With your key stakeholders, discuss your methodologies and determine the metrics, targets, and language you will use to review progress.  CEOs ultimately want a return on investment, be it from marketing, sales, or other departments. With a myriad of places to invest, YOU must make a case for why marketing?

  2. Agree on the Terms. If it's SALs, SQLs, conversion rates, so be it…. but does this make sense for your business? Do people care? How do these align with corporate goals, and is marketing's impact therefore justly appreciated?  Figure out what matters; is it "at-bats," acquisition costs, client engagement, or something not in the standard marketing vernacular?  At the end of the day, marketing is tasked with building a brand, ROMI, customer demand, engagement, and retention-related indicators…. not sales team metrics.

  3. Communicate Progress Consistently and Often. It may be ok to speak in marketing lingo within the marketing family but commit the team to do the translation externally -- especially when speaking with key stakeholders and partners across the organization.   And do so often.  Get in a regular cadence, so there are no surprises at the end of a quarter or fiscal year. Nothing is more "music to a marketing leader's ears" than hearing that your team's result growth is so very predictable and they are guilty of over-communicating.