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How Should Marketers Deal with Senior Management?

If you aren’t getting through to management in a way that fills them with confidence, either in you or the marketing function, then it might be time to take a look at how you are communicating or, if you’re communicating the right things.

Business leaders look for things that aren’t working – not because they’re itching to sack people or cut budgets but because it’s their job to work out weak areas and improve them, ultimately, driving business growth.

In this blog, I’m looking at a couple of areas that are often perceived as weaknesses in marketing teams by senior management, and how you should handle them.

Results Speak for Themselves, Right?

If you are sat thinking; “but marketing results speak for themselves?! Why should I have to prove myself or what I’m doing?”, first, well done on your confidence, and second, you can’t have worked in marketing for long enough.

A seasoned marketer knows that even with the best intentions and all the planning in the world, shit happens.

Campaigns don’t go as planned, maybe you got the data set wrong or used the wrong approach. Events can flop, traffic on websites can drop off – there is a myriad of things that can and will go wrong in marketing. (For anyone reading this thinking about a career in marketing; I promise lots of things go well too!) Before you know it, leads have started to dry up and the critical gaze of senior management lands firmly on the door of the marketing department.

How you handle these failures is key to the sort of relationship you build with management. Your perspective of failure is also how you learn – marketing is, in general, a series of experiments. So you, the little scientist, need to analyse what went wrong and what you will change next time you experiment.

In a previous post, I talked about how to explain success to senior management – you should be just as well prepared to explain your failures too. The critical gaze will be much softened when you can explain why your well-planned campaign didn’t turn out as expected or get the results you wanted.

Flexing Your Commercial Thinking Muscles

Of course, everything I’ve just said depends on the amount of thought and planning you put into your ‘experiments’ – it’s incredibly difficult to explain away failure when the failure is due to something you could have predicted or researched.

Whilst writing this, I was reminded of a blog post I read some time ago; CEOs Don’t Trust Marketing – What’s The Solution? By Neil Patel. In the post, Neil explains that senior management often doesn’t trust marketing, with 73% of CEOs stating; “marketers lack business credibility and the ability to generate sufficient growth”.

Another set of statistics show that an alarming number of marketers simply lack proper strategies when it comes to digital or content marketing.

It’s easy to work out the connection between these two sets of data; marketers aren’t demonstrating commercial thinking. Or as Neil puts it;

“It appears that we’re quick to dive into solutions, new techniques, tactics and channels – but we lack the over-arching strategic thinking necessary to optimize for success.”

So, whilst you might be giddy to explain a specific detail of your campaign or a new channel you are trying, what senior managers want to see is how you are thinking about marketing as a whole, and how the function supports their organisational goals.

Again, your senior team aren’t dicks – marketing can be an expensive business cost so of course, it tends to come under much more scrutiny when it comes to success and failures.

Need a Hand?

If you’re in a very small marketing team or even a lone marketer, it can be difficult to keep track of measuring goals or even to get an overall marketing strategy together. Digital marketing can be hard to get a grip of, especially if it isn’t your speciality. If you’re busy with the daily ins and outs of your job, it can also feel demotivating to have to sit back and reflect where things are going wrong.

Here at GrowTraffic, we work with a wide range of businesses in many areas of marketing. We essentially slot into your weak areas. Whether that’s measuring and improving website traffic or coming up with an amazing content marketing strategy for you to wow the rest of your team with.

If you need help presenting your best marketing to senior managers, get in touch here.

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