Tuesday 2 cents: You are not the typing pool

I start this week, where I left off last week with a bit of Andy Raskin:

Conversations about messaging are really conversations about strategy

Andy Raskin

Do you agree?

How about this from Steve Jobs:

The most powerful person in the world is the storyteller. The storyteller sets the vision, values and agenda of an entire generation that is to come.

Steve Jobs

Or maybe Mr Jobs is not your marketing yoda of choice, how about Seth Godin:

marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories you tell.

Seth Godin

Fabulous quotes that gladden the heart of any marketer as we consider our place in the world – here we are as marketers, custodians of the most important asset for a brand – it’s story.  

Some CEOs and leadership teams understand this, others think that marketing is what happens after the adults have done talking. Believing that more features, more flippers, more flappers, more press releases about partnerships is what’s needed.

others think that marketing is

what happens after the adults have done talking.

Now run along, jump on the marketing hamster wheel and win hearts and minds with the ability to support PostgresSQL 9.6.12. I have chatted to marketers that have described this experience as “the typing pool”.

Now, of course, to some customers a point release of a database might be important, it could be “hygiene” content that you’ve got to have. BUT – if you win the customers hearts, if they go with you on a journey, see a bigger vision, maybe they go the extra mile and work around a point release of a database.

A few years ago, I conducted a content marketing workshop at a large car manufacturer, we’d spent a few hours together, the room was excited. YES, they wanted to tell the bigger story!

In this case the challenge was how to get more women interested in their cars, into the showroom and engaging with the brand. Yet, at the end of the day, as we wrapped up, and discussed how this group of marketers from across the business could take the lessons back to their day jobs, one told me that her product management had decided that she had to launch a slightly different specification diesel engine that week. This marketer had no opportunity to influence this decision and so the bigger opportunity of appealing to 50% of the population would clearly have to wait.

Marketing should be at the top table of the C-suite, shaping the strategy, contributing to its execution and being held accountable for achieving those goals. Not just in the C suite, but in all the different silos where the direction of execution is decided. But, too often you see marketing teams being treated as the typing pool, short order cooks or as Robert Rose so eloquently puts it:

The content team, whether one person or 10, ends up being an on-demand vending machine of content that is just random things

Robert Rose

Yet, the quote from Raskin at the start of this post is spot on.

Whenever I have sat at the top table of software companies, the discussion about messaging and positioning is tightly entwined in the strategy, goals and the identity of the product, the company and even how the executives want to be perceived.

An authentic brand story is ALL of these things.

In these conversations you are discussing not just the story that you tell, but how you deliver on that brand promise – the customer experience. To abuse Raskins quote you could say that “Conversations about the customer experience and messaging are really conversations about strategy” and anyone that touches the customer needs to be present to define that.

So no.. you are not the typing pool….