Even in organizations where marketing is well-funded, it can still be undervalued. This lack of understanding or belief in marketing adds a challenging layer to your job. The signs may not always be clear, but when we work with clients who are walking through mud internally, we usually spot these signs.
You Don’t Know Your Budget
There is a marketing budget, or at least, you get approval to spend when asking for it. However, you don’t have a clearly outlined budget for each year. This means that marketing is not part of the company’s strategic budget planning. Investments in marketing are only approved if cash flow is positive or the department hasn’t “spent too much.” It’s a feeling or guess-based attitude towards funding marketing versus a strategic, intentional decision.
Specific Goals & KPIs are Not Discussed
This goes hand-in-hand with a budget. If the marketing department is not being held accountable for specific goals or key performance indicators (KPIs), it’s undervalued. A lack of goals points to one of two things – 1. A lack of belief in marketing’s role in the company or 2. A lack of understanding of what marketing can do. A marketing department that isn’t held to goals is nice to have but not an essential piece of getting the business where it needs to go.
No One is Engaging with You
No responses to your emails? No input or feedback from other departments? People ghosting you on calls? The list of how people show a lack of engagement could go on and on. If that’s what your team is getting in response to marketing, it’s a clear sign of how much value the rest of the organization is placing on marketing. If the people at the same or lower levels of the organization are not engaging, they are following their leader.
There’s an important distinction to make here – if you’re not asking for any of the above, this sign becomes irrelevant. If the lack of engagement comes from the marketing team, then that’s a different problem altogether.
Marketing is Not Included in Leadership or their Communication
In most organizations, key strategic departments are represented on the leadership level. Lack of marketing representation at that level is an indicator that marketing is seen as non-essential. This doesn’t necessarily mean that every organization needs a vice president of marketing or someone at that level. But when marketing is an important function for the company, the leader of the marketing team should have regular access to a leadership-level employee. There should always be an advocate for marketing in a company’s C-suite.
Another way marketing’s perceived value is shown is whether or not marketing updates are included in executive-level or internal communications. Is there a chance for marketing’s wins and successes to be shared with the entire organization? If there’s an internal newsletter or intranet, is marketing mentioned in that?
Requests are Always Last Minute
This one is endlessly frustrating, and if you’re in this position with marketing in your organization, you’re nodding your head furiously. Bottom line – marketing is undervalued if requests are always last minute. This is a clear sign that the rest of the organization does not know, understand or, possibly, care about your long-term marketing strategy.
Their needs come first, and they have no problem up-ending your priorities for theirs. It’s a cyclical issue that can be hard to break. If you don’t help with a request, you’re seen as uncooperative. You become the enemy. If you do help them, the work is probably lower quality than your typical standards because of the time crunch. Then the marketing team gets known as order-takers or task-doers.
Take some time to look at how your organization behaves in relation to marketing. It’s easy to sweep some of these symptoms under the rug. Maybe it started as one or two last-minute requests and snowballed into a fire you can never put out. Or maybe a senior-level marketer left and was never replaced. These can happen slowly over time.
On the flip side, we often work with marketing leaders who have inherited this situation, and they’re trying to diagnose why. Treating the symptoms won’t work if the cause is never addressed.
Don’t lose hope, though. There are ways this can be addressed, and this perception of marketing can be improved. Understanding why and how marketing got into this position is the first step.