B2B Marketing Blog

How Expert Marketers Gain Influence

By Andrew Nguyen
Jul 23, 2015
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Marketers who experiment through trial and error understand how to generate customers. But this doesn’t mean experimenting, implementing a new tool, or shifting to a new strategy is easy. 

Marketers don’t need more tools or technical knowledge, they need ways to implement change in their organization.

This post covers 3 principles to gain influence and buy-in for new marketing initiatives.

Fail Fast And Tell The Story 

Failing fast is the mantra for many startups. Why? You always learn something through failure. And marketers get a step closer to the finding what works after failing.  

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Image Credit: How Google Works 

When an experiment doesn't go as planned, there is always a good story to tell. 

What did you set out to find? How did you handle the setback? What is the next step?

Marketers gain influence and support not simply by answering these questions, but using storytelling techniques.

Here's how.

Consider how you define failure, in some cases there is no leeway -- you failed or you succeeded --  but like the answer to the job interview question, “describe a failure in your previous job,” marketers should consider how they define failure.

Anyone can fail. In telling your story audiences should think, Been there before.

Your story shouldn't be about your failure, it should be about how we are all prone to making the same mistake, that we all face the same odds.

Be objective. Choose words carefully when describing the parties involved and the the cause of the failure. 

Clarity is important. Audiences need to understand why decisions were made and think, “I would have made that call too.”

Avoid adjectives and superlatives, sticking to the numbers and facts.

Your next step should be clear as day. What you propose as the next step should be convincing if you structure your story correctly.

Make sure the points you’ve made all build up to the “next steps.” You're building a case for your initiative. Any points that do not relate will only distract. 

Chart a way forward. Are there steps you’ve already taken that show promise?

If you’ve begun to address the problem, and there is early data that shows promise, this is a highly convincing argument.

Using learnings from failing fast is one way marketers gain influence. 

Demonstrate Past Success To Gain Influence

The biggest reason organizations commit to a marketing investment is demonstrated past success, according to Hubspot.

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Whether it’s separating marketing from the central ERP system, implementing a marketing automation platform, or investing in a new channel, you’ll need to convince the board or CMO that it will work. The best way to do this is to demonstrate past success.

You’re probably thinking: how can we show results for something we haven’t tried?

Do a small scale trial and focus most of your energy on measuring success.

Demonstrate how you will track success using the most business relevant metrics.

How will you track the revenue, ROI, and new customers generated from your initiative? How will this improve your team’s day to day effectiveness?

Marketers should talk about new initiatives like a scientist on a quest, not a business professor explaining why rent control doesn’t work.

Be Captain Kirk in the board room, save Spock for when you’re alone implementing your marketing system.

Use The Most Compelling Metrics

Influence rests on persuasion, and choosing the best metrics undoubtedly plays an important role in persuasion.

What makes good news articles are interesting stats that are rigorously investigated. When skilled writers can’t get compelling numbers, they don’t use them at all, instead relying on their editorial skills. Marketers need to do the same when it comes to building influence and gaining support.

Here are the two traits that make of metrics compelling, and give marketers the ability to gain influence:

Relevant: Metrics never exist alone. They exist with context. Pageviews, shares and time on page are metrics that fit a meeting for marketers improving their online content. Opportunities generated and revenue are metrics that are relevant to senior manager.

Connecting marketing metrics to revenue data makes a strong case.

Average revenue per lead, or opportunities generated by channel, or opportunities generated by campaign are just a few pipeline marketing metrics that help marketers prove the value of their work.

Downstream metrics are much more compelling and is what marketers use to justify their spend and get new initiatives approved.

Exact: We read stats that go like this: X percentage of marketers have found a customer via Y marketing channel, or X percentage of companies exceeding their revenue goals have an above average email open rate.

We pause and realize we’ve seen more exact math in third grade classroom.

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If a metric or stat doesn’t convince you, don’t use it.

Marketers who use the most compelling numbers and metrics are at an advantage. While working with data to obtain these numbers doesn’t happen overnight, it should be part of every marketer’s tactical plan.

Marketers who can fail fast, demonstrate past success and use the comelling metrics are the most important people in the room. These marketers gain influence by understanding how to generate revenue and new customers. Just three easy principles to keep in mind. 

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Topics: B2B Marketing

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