The Top 5 Challenges Chief Marketing Officers and Business Owners Face In Overseeing Marketing

June

23

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Overseeing marketing is no easy task. It requires a wide variety of skills to execute effectively. And there is no shortage of challenges along the way. Today, Sarah Lefevre from Snow Horse Marketing and I will dig into the top 5 challenges Chief Marketing Officers and Business Owners face In overseeing marketing.

Join Tim Fitzpatrick and Sarah Lefevre for this week’s episode of The Rialto Marketing Podcast!

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The Top 5 Challenges Chief Marketing Officers and Business Owners Face In Overseeing Marketing

Tim Fitzpatrick
Overseeing marketing is no easy task. It requires a wide variety of skills to execute effectively, and there certainly is no shortage of challenges along the way. Today, we are going to dig into the top five challenges chief marketing officers and business owners face in overseeing marketing. This is a joint podcast episode of the Rialto Marketing podcast and the Snow Horse marketing podcast. Super excited to dig into this today. So I am Tim Fitzpatrick with Rialto Marketing, where we believe you must remove your revenue roadblocks to accelerate growth and that marketing shouldn't be difficult. And Sarah, tell us about you.

Sarah Lefevre
I'm Sarah Lefevre. I'm the GM of Snow Horse Marketing. I've had over a decade of experience in the marketing world. But what we do with Snow Horse is we create long term marketing solutions and systems for growth minded businesses. And that's really fun for me.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Awesome. I love it. And for those of you that do not know me, I am Tim Fitzpatrick with Rialto Marketing. I am a marketing consultant and a fractional outsourced chief marketing officer. So we primarily help B2B professional service firms that need a marketing leader to accelerate growth without the full-time cost. And I like to tell people I specialize in three areas of marketing strategy, which I think of like fuel planning, where we're outlining the vehicles that you're going to use, and then leadership, where we jump into the driver's seat or we guide or mentor coach the owner so that they feel comfortable being in the driver's seat. Sarah, I am super excited to do this with you today. We've had a couple of conversations, and our first conversation, we just started talking about all these things that we're going to dig into today. I think people are going to find it super helpful because managing marketing is not an easy thing, especially today. But I don't think it's ever been easy. But now there's just so many marketing channels, so many tactics, so much information overload. It's like, where do I even start, wight?

Sarah Lefevre
Oh, definitely. Now, I was actually just speaking this morning with one of our managers about a client who wasn't quite understanding how much was involved in marketing. A lot of times we see that with business owners, they feel like, oh, we just want marketing done. Saying that you're a marketer is like saying you're a scientist. You could be a botanist or you could be an engineer. It's a huge category. A lot of people are just, I think now becoming more aware of how in-depth it is.

Why People Get Burned By Marketers

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah, agree 100 %. Let's just dig into this. We've got five challenges we're going to talk about today. The first thing, the first one that we've got on our list is they've been burned by other marketers. They hired a freelancer, they hired somebody internally, they hired an agency, and things didn't work out. The wheels came off. Sarah, why do you think this happens? And what can we do to help avoid it, if at all possible?

Sarah Lefevre
Yeah. So I see this happen more times than I see it not happen. And I feel like it boils down to two main things. One, the person hiring the service doesn't speak the lingo and didn't know what to ask for. Or number two, there were unrealistic expectations or deliveries from one or both parties. And so that's been my experience. And I feel like the first pit is really difficult because a lot of obviously when a marketing call... How many gatekeepers know if you hear marketing, you just send it to voicemail or give them a generic inbox. When you hear marketing, you know you're getting sold. And so many people haven't dived into, what are the different avenues of marketing? What does that look like? And even when they have an awesome inhouse team, everyone can't be an expert in everything. And so a lot of times they're having to outsource, but they may not know what to outsource. They may be like, oh, we want branding. But then they go hire just a graphic designer. And then the graphic designer is asking them, well, what branding do you want? And they feel like they got burned because the graphic designer is asking for details when what they should have looked for is a branding expert to help them create that strategy. And so I feel like that's a big piece. And then the other piece, of course, is just not understanding, not clear communication. I know I've worked with clients myself where we've sent them Google forms to fill out, here's some detailed information that we need to allow this to perform better, or say we want perform... He sent us the CSV file so we can have the performance reach the goal of where we want it to reach. And they just are unable or they don't understand what we're asking for or the right person. Maybe it's the secretary who has the information, not the business owner. And there can be a lot of communication challenges there that just delay projects even beginning I've experienced. How do you feel about that? I know you've run into that yourself.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah, I think you hit on the main points that I think are super important. Look, the reality is no matter what you do, sometimes these things are going to happen. So we can't avoid this 100 % of the time. But going in with realistic expectations and having a clear understanding of what you actually need, you have to understand exactly what you need and what you're hiring for. And certainly qualify people. Look, just do your due diligence. Don't skip steps. Talk to them. Look, I think you got to hire people that you feel good about, you feel comfortable with, that you get along well with. If you don't get along well with them in the beginning, I don't think that's going to change, and it's going to make the relationship very difficult on an ongoing basis. So trust your gut when you're going through these, but you have to know exactly what you're hiring for. Once you hire, you got to have enough understanding to be able to hold those people accountable. And if you don't, that's when I think you run into problems. It's not uncommon for marketers to provide clients' data on, Hey, this is what we're doing, and here's the results. And the business owner or the chief marketing officer is looking at it going like, It looks good, but it doesn't feel good. We're not generating leads that are converting, but the numbers look good. Well, it's because the numbers that they're being given aren't... They're not the right numbers. They're not relevant, which I know we're going to talk about metrics here in a little bit. So if you don't know enough to be able to manage and hold that person accountable, you either got to level up your skills so that you can, or I think you need to hire somebody who can do that for you because it's going to be really difficult to manage those people effectively otherwise.

Sarah Lefevre
Well, I'd even say it's really important to when you hire at I've been the VP of Marketing for other businesses, and I've been in the marketing world for a long, long time, and I've worn a lot of different hats. I've experienced a lot of times there's the executive team, even I've been having whiteboards of drawing out diagrams of this is how the flow works together. Here's the flywheel approach. And a lot of times they just don't... It's a very different set of knowledge. It's a very different set. I mean, it's why I like comparing it to being a scientist. It's very different. It's not a little different than other business. And so a lot of times it's hard to grasp. And so you want to make sure when you put someone into that role, it's someone that you trust. And it needs to be someone and give them the freedom and the latitude and statue to make the calls that you can. I love watching other marketing experts like Gary Vee, and he often shares the story about how he started out in the wine business. And his father gave him the latitude of doing the marketing when he was in the 20s and how much respect he has for his father, giving him that latitude because now he's in the marketing world and experience what you and I have seen where there's not that trusted individual in the company to be making those calls. And then a lot of times the executives, they don't know how to read the numbers. They don't know how to understand the cross marketing flow. They don't know what KPIs mean something and don't mean something. Especially if we've just progressed in the marketing world, especially post COVID, into the brand really being the engine of the company where it used to not be. It was the engine of the company. Now, branding has become the engine of many companies. And that's a big shift for a lot of people.

Why People Struggle to Oversee Marketing

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah. Sarah, I think that's a good lead into the second problem that we wanted to touch on today, which is they struggle with all the various roles of overseeing marketing at an executive level. I know one of the things that you touched on in previous conversations that we had was this concept of the specialist versus the generalist. Can you dig into that a little bit?

Sarah Lefevre
Yeah, certainly. I feel like a lot of people when they hire that marketing person, this is our trusted person. A lot of times they hire someone who's fulfilling an immediate need. We need someone to build the website. We need someone to do Facebook ads for us. And they hire that person. And then that person does really good at building the website or doing the branding or whatever the one thing is that they were hired initially to do. But they aren't the experts on PPC. They aren't the experts on getting unique traffic. They aren't the experts on cultivating audience. They aren't the experts on email. They aren't the experts on design, whatever other things that are needed for this website to be successful or whatever they were initially hired on to be successful. And so they go and hire vendors. But they're maybe a branding expert, and now they're talking to analytical experts in the fields in different areas, and they don't know which ones to use and they don't know what to order because it's not their expertise. I see that more times than I don't see that, I would say. And I have a lot of empathy for those CMOs or those VPs of marketing that we run into because they're out of their depth and they've been burned by so many other agencies because they don't know what to ask for. And even though they're working on increasing their knowledge, there's a big disparity in the type of work that it is. And there's a big cultural difference. There's a languaging difference. Everything, for example, talking about ICP versus personas. Those are the same thing, but it's different terminology depending on who you're asking. There's many KPIs. You talk about creative versus images. Those are the same thing depending on who you're asking. So even within the different fields of marketing, the terminology can be completely different just because it needs to be more specific in certain areas than others. And so that can be just a huge cultural shift. And so what I have found when I've been in a position of managing many vendors or the vendors that we've worked with, our point of contact, being a generalist has often been the greatest fit that we've seen because they understand the strategy, they understand the long term goal, they understand what's going to drive revenue, both short term and long term. They know what's going on there. And so that's really important for everyone to just realize, especially executives, to realize who you're putting in that position to manage the vendors can be the difference in between the vendors you're choosing working and not working. And what types of vendors that you choose. That generalist knows the questions to ask. That generalist knows the KPIs. The people I speak with or our account manager speak with that we have the best relationship experience with, the smoothest launches, the most scaling are the ones that we can just... They get us the information that we need or speak in the same language and they know what their goals are. That's the biggest thing. The goal isn't we want to double our revenue. Okay, that's everyone's goal. How are you wanting to double your revenue? Do you know what's been working, what hasn't been working? And someone who can describe that and be like, Oh, we got this branding person. We've been doing it this way, or we're starting to do podcasts, or we want to cultivate our existing traffic. Our return to shopping cart numbers are way down. We want to figure out why. People who are generalists, they know those questions and they know what problems want to be solved. Or a lot of times, those who specialized, they really struggle in knowing what questions to ask and knowing what help is needed. They just know they can't do this piece, but they often don't know how to find that piece.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah. You shared a lot of really good stuff in there. Couple of things I want to hone in on here. So it's important to hire that specialist for the more tactical implementation work. But when you're looking at the leader of your marketing efforts, whether you're leading it as the business owner or whether you're hiring somebody to do it, you need somebody that has a higher level understanding of what's going on with marketing as a whole. I think somebody that is incredibly good at strategy is really important, but they know enough about all the various marketing channels to... And you hit on this, ask the right questions. Look, I don't know everything there is to know about social media and posts and driving client acquisition through social media, but I know enough to ask a specialist questions that are going to help give me the understanding that I need to determine whether they're going to be a good fit or whether when they're doing their work, I know enough to ask them questions that's going to help give me a better understanding of what they're doing and whether it's working. You got to have a general understanding of marketing, but you don't need to know the nitty gritty details. It's impossible, but you know enough to ask the right questions, which I think is super, super important.

Sarah Lefevre
Yeah. Well, I'll say there's two mindsets as well. And when you're finding that generalist who's going to help you get those good vendors and outsource effectively and even cultivate an inhouse team, that makes sense, right? Anyways, lots of ways people have set that up. That's interesting. But I think when you're looking for that generalist, it's also important to understand what their perspective is. So if you're a business owner or an executive and you're interviewing people to be that CMO, you want to understand is this person brand driven or is this person data driven? Or is it someone who understands the value of both? And what is their perspective on that? I think that's a really, really important question to ask. If I was an executive hiring a CMO, that's one of the top questions I was asked. Do you feel brand is most important or data is most important and why? I think that's a beautiful question to ask because you'll understand how they're thinking about marketing. And I personally feel if you find someone who's too brand heavy or you find someone who's too data heavy, they're usually not going to be able to be a generalist in all the areas. They could maybe be a generalist over the branding, which even branding has many, many facets. Or you may find someone who's very data and they may be the paid search, paid digital, PPC, all that stuff that may be what they could be a generalist over. And I actually think there's a lot of co CMOs happening these days that I'm seeing happen. Or there's a... I forgot what it was called. It's basically the chief marketing branding officer. I forget what they called it. But I've seen a few of those popping up where I feel like a lot of executives are realizing it is a unicorn to find someone who has a good balance of both. It's not very common, you find that. But they are starting to realize that these are two of the major factors. But if I was finding one person, that is the question I'd ask just so I know what their biases in choosing who they go with, knowing what the angle is that they're going into getting these vendors or using channels.

Tim Fitzpatrick
I think it's important too when you're hiring for a marketing executive, that you understand what the main roles of that position are. And so to me, there's six roles of a marketing executive, VP of Marketing, chief marketing officer, whatever you want to call it. If you're the owner, you're responsible for these things and you're doing it. You got to be able to do these things. One is strategic planning and the strategy behind what you're doing. Two is brand management, making sure that the brand is being represented and built like you want it to be, overseeing all the marketing campaigns that are actually happening, analyzing the data, looking at the metrics, budget management, and team management. Those are all the things that you're hiring a marketing executive to do. So if they can't handle that, there's an issue. Or if you have gaps as the owner, which, look, you can't be great at all things. And if you're trying to spend five plates and marketing is one of them, it's just not realistic. And that's okay. So just know that when you're hiring somebody, to me, that's what you're hiring a marketing executive for is to oversee those six elements, which I think is really important.

Sarah Lefevre
Well, I think it's important to understand the value as well. I've run across many business owners who they just... Marketing used to just be billboards and flyers. I'll throw this out there. I was mentored by a guerrilla marketing pro back in the day. One of the last to be mentored by that group, which was great privilege. And I got insight into a lot of things by working with them. And one of them was back in Proctor and Gamble back in the 1960s. I don't know if you know this. They only needed seven impressions. Seven impressions, ho, ho, ho, green giant. Within the time, they needed seven impressions. Two TVs, one billboard, and magazines. That's how they got their seven impressions. People watching this may not understand how drastic that is, but today, the average person to even go to the website of a new brand needs to see your website. I think it's 53 times, needs to see an advertisement or a touch 53 times to even be open to learning about a new brand. Where before it was seven touches to purchase a new brand. And so there's a huge change that's happened since the 1960s. And you can obviously see that reflected in what the role responsibilities are of a CMO. And I think a lot of times executives and business owners as well, they need to understand and see the value in what that person is bringing. And it's not cheap. It's why fractional CMO work like you do. And we do systems, we create systems for businesses so that no matter who's coming through the company, the system is still going to work. It's why that's become so important because it is expensive to have someone who can do all seven of those things every day. That's going to cost a business 100 to 200 grand. It just is. That's the cost of that. It's great value. And that person who can master those seven things and do them effectively, then they need spend on top of that as well to be able to go out and execute what they're doing. And then they also need a budget for the vendors that they're using. And so I think a lot of times when I talk to business owners, breaking that out and helping them understand the value of that. And you hear all the time, I'm a big fan of the shark tank people, but a lot of times you'll see conversations that they have and they talk about how everything has changed. Kevin O'Leary, I remember a podcast he did and I was just like, This is brilliant. He used to be like, Artists are cheap. Artists are super cheap. You don't need to pay him anything. Then COVID happened and branding became everything. And he's like, I would never imagine I'd be paying an artist $200,000 to put together a video for YouTube. I never imagined that I'd be doing that. I remember that conversation being so... The shift has happened. The shift has happened and it's important to understand that that is what's making, breaking the businesses right now.

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Tips for Metrics Tracking

Tim Fitzpatrick
So we touched on metrics a little bit. Let's dig into that because that is the third thing that we've got on our list as one of the top challenges, which is metrics tracking. I tend to see either people not tracking many metrics at all or tracking the wrong metrics. I know you've got... Coming from your background, you definitely have some insights to metrics that I don't look at. So just get us started here. What comes to mind as we talk about metrics tracking?

Sarah Lefevre
Yeah. No, so I'm definitely a data girl. That is me. And I love data. I love diving into it. I love seeing what's working, what's not working. I think the biggest thing to figure out in the beginning when you're doing your marketing is you want to figure out what your buyer persona is and your ICP. And the question is, how do you know who that is? Who is your ideal customer profile? Who is that person? Because all your marketing, you can spend millions and millions of dollars if it's not going to the right people at the right time, in the right place, it's just wasting money. And so the first thing I look at is do they know who their ICP is? And if they don't, how do you find out? Well, number one, you want to figure out conversion points. What are the conversion points? And who is actually filling out those conversion points? Number two, you want to figure out after someone converts, how many of them are actually... So this is internal information, like how many of them are actually doing a purchase, or it's actually getting shipped out to them, how many of them are becoming a client. You want to know what that looks like. And then you want to pull that information and target to them. So we do a blended approach when we build out marketing. So it goes to all social platforms, but it follows an audience. You can use LiveRamp, you can use CSV files, you can use the actual data from the person going to the website to be like, Who are these people? And we want to get in front of the right people on the right platform. We don't care where they go. We just get in front of these people. So I think that's the number one thing, knowing who your people are. You want to know who those people are and you want to know where they're going. And you want to be using softwares and tools that can do that. There's so much technology. When I go and meet with a business owner or a CMO, they're logging into Meta and Facebook business. I know there's changes happening there right now where brand awareness will be going through that again. But it's the reason it pulled away from there. And everyone's using these third party softwares is because when you go directly through the platform, the platform optimizes to what's best for them, typically. And so sometimes I'll be in these conversations, especially about a year ago, before these new changes are coming down the pike. And I would talk to them and they'd be like, yeah, we've always used Google Facebook business. Our performance went to crap, like, over the last three months. I'm like, yeah, we're not in the world and day and age where $10 on Facebook goes very far. We're just not. And there are certain campaigns, obviously doing lead gen on Facebook works more effectively versus brand awareness versus other things. And they're taking away ways of targeting. I don't know if you know this, but Facebook took away being able to target religious. So we have clients who sold religious based clothing, religious based text, things like that, and now they could no longer target based on religion. Okay, well, who's actually going onto your website? Can we target based on the people on your website? Can we use that targeting? And this is where a lot of people make those mistakes. Again, sorry, I'm going off topic.

Tim Fitzpatrick
No, it's totally good.

Sarah Lefevre
It's really important for people to know who their ICP is and be able to target. I think that's the most important in KPI because then you can know where to spend, why to spend, how much to spend, what is your ROAS return on ad spend, how much are you spending? And then you also know when to where and to layer in brand awareness because brand awareness doesn't typically have a direct ROAS. It doesn't. But you know how to go get that unique traffic to go get it into your either flywheel approach or funnel approach. And I think it's very important with KPIs to know when are we doing a FlyWheel analysis of this? And when are we doing a Funnel analysis of this? And so I think that's also really important to just understand when you're looking at KPIs. Is this a FlyWheel situation or is this a funnel situation?

Tim Fitzpatrick
What are some of your favorite tools for third party tools for metrics tracking?

Sarah Lefevre
So we use AdRoll. I know they're going under a lot of changes. And then there's Marketo, of course. So many people love Marketo. Those are the two big ones that I recommend. And it really depends how you're set up internally, which is the best one to use. But there are a lot of changes happening with that, too, because the platform, TikTok, Facebook, and Instagram, those are the three. They're making some changes so that you can't do brand awareness through party software. That's what we've been told, at least. So we're bracing and adapting to those changes as we speak. But that's something to just be aware of as well. Even as you're using these softwares, they don't have control of the platforms and the platform adjustments. And you got to be nimble with that as well.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Look, I agree 100 % with what you just shared, Sarah, especially understanding who your ideal clients are. Everything from a marketing standpoint starts there. And if your marketing is going to be effective, you have to have a clear understanding of that. Some of the things that come to mind for me with metrics, a few things. One is try to keep it as simple as possible. It is so easy to like, there's so many metrics we can track, and a lot of them don't really mean much. I think it's important to keep it simple. I think it's important to understand why you're doing a specific activity. And once you understand why you're doing it, that's going to then dictate what metrics are important for you to track. And then from there, I think at its most base level, look, the reality is if we're doing all these things and they're not generating leads that aren't turning to customers, then who cares? At its most basic level, you've got to understand that. How many leads are we generating? Where are they coming from? When we understand where those leads are coming from, it helps give us a good idea of what activities we're taking are actually working and which ones aren't. And if we know how many new clients we're getting, we know what our conversion rate is. And certainly, if you're a much larger company, you can dig into the weeds on metrics per channel, per activity, per campaign. There's so many different things you can do. But I think just trying to keep it as simple as possible and not losing sight of the fact that we're doing this to generate leads that become clients. Because some of this stuff, I got, we increased our website traffic by 50 %. Great. How many leads did you generate from that? Who cares? You may be generating 50 % increase in traffic, but they're the wrong people. And because they're the wrong people, they're not converting. So we got to hone in on the most important metrics. Those are just some of the things that I think about when I think about metrics.

Sarah Lefevre
Well, adding to that, I think it's also really important to understand where the blame lies if something isn't happening. So I work a lot with our clients. The number one thing we do with all of our clients is we get quality, unique traffic to the website. Now, when we're optimizing what's going on in months, three, four, five, typically is when that's happening, we want to be able to see, is it us? Is it the traffic? How can we get that better? Or is it the UX? Is it the design of the website? Is it the flow of the website? And then also is it the ICP? Those are the three things we look at, like where are we targeting? Who are we targeting? The people who are coming to the website, are we targeting good people but the website is confusing? Or are we getting good people to the website but they're not converting because of pricing or branding or other things like that? And so that's the biggest thing to do. Because if you know who your ICP is and you're getting your ICP to the website, it eliminates that being an issue. And now you know, oh, I need to work on branding, or, oh, I need to work on web flow. I need to work on how this is designed, or, oh, I need to put less question. I need to not do a 20 question contact form. I need to do a four question contact form. And there's many tools that you can use to look at that as well. But I think it's when you know what you're driving to, like, we want to get leads. I remember I worked for a company that had a Weebly website, and it was like an old 90s. It was an old website. And even though in the first couple of months I worked with them, we 3,000 X the traffic to the website because they weren't doing any marketing at all. So it was a nice thing to do. And they were. They were getting a lot more leads. But I was looking at it and I was like, You know what? You are only having 2 % convert, which for them and their price point and what they were doing was enough and that was good for them. But I'm like, this is really low. Even though you're loving the new leads and stuff, we want to fix this. So we ended up diving in and being like, you know what? We should actually build a more modern website that's easier to use so that the people can fill it out. And it doesn't look like it's a scam. It looks like a legit company because you guys are a legit company. It's what we call social proofing, something I encourage everyone to do. You want to make sure that you look professional. And so as we were going through that process and we built a brand new website. And it was a pretty technical one. We had to build custom widgets for it and stuff like that for it to work. And they went from a 2 % to 5 % conversion rate of that same traffic just on the new website to almost a 20 % conversion rate. And the bounce rate went from, I think it was like 60 % bounce rate all the way down to a 20 % bounce rate, which was really good. 

Hiring for Marketing Help

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah, it's really good. Wow. So I think we hammered metrics. Let's talk about the fourth big challenge, which is hiring for marketing help. This could be hiring for an agency. This could be hiring internally. Couple of the things that come to mind here for me is one, and we already touched on this a little bit, when you hire an agency, and this is a generalization, it is not this way all the time, but in general, you need to go to an agency knowing exactly what you want. I think you are setting yourself up for some challenges if you go to an agency saying, We need you to put together a strategy and tell us what to do. What the hell do you expect them to do? They're going to tell you that you need what they sell. That's just the reality of it. I think that is a huge mistake. It is a mistake that I see people make all the time. You need to know what you want if you're going to go to an agency. There are some agencies that do great strategy work. Most of them do not. Most of them are practitioners. They're great at what they specialize in, but they are not strategists. That's a huge mistake I see people make with agencies. One of the mistakes I see people make when they hire internally, especially early on when they're building their team, they look to hire a marketing coordinator or a Marketing Manager. The laundry list of things that they expect that person to do is it's impossible. You said this before, you touched on unicorns. Unicorns don't exist. You cannot hire anybody in marketing that's going to know everything, especially when you're hiring somebody that you're paying 40, 50, 60, even $70,000 a year. You cannot hire somebody and go, I expect you to be able to put together my website and manage my website. You're going to be doing social posts. You're going to be doing some lead gen. You're going to be creating content for us. You're going to be handling our email marketing campaigns. It's like the list just goes on and on. It's impossible. You really got to hone in on what's most important and find somebody that's going to be great at that. Because if you hire somebody, expect them to do a laundry list, they may be able to do a lot of those things, but they're not going to do them all great. So that's what comes to mind for me. What comes to mind for you?

Sarah Lefevre
No, I definitely agree. No, it just reminds me of a meme that's circling around LinkedIn now where it's like a new Marketing Manager is hired and you look at the list and they say, oh, is that another task or another role? Here's your responsibilities when they're hired. I've definitely been through that myself, both when I worked for companies and then even as a contractor and even with agencies. A lot of times agent, people use us as an agency and they'll be like, Oh, can you do this? And if we can accommodate it, we will. And we do a lot of that stuff. But a lot of times they ask us to do stuff that's way out of our wheelhouse. And it's very interesting that they can do that. I mean, there's a bunch of posts, I don't know how active you are on the millennial marketing LinkedIn group, but there's a ton of memes going out of this very topic now because it's very challenging as a marketer, especially right now, many of them are experiencing cut budgets and they're cutting vendors or they're cutting staffing and then expected to hire more vendors. And there's a lot of adjustments that happen within marketing. And it's very, very difficult to figure out what is my role and what is someone else's role. And when you're going into hiring marketing help, again, those questions we talked about earlier, like, what is their point of view? If you can only afford one marketing person for your team, you want that generalist, that person who can go find the good help and knows what the budgets are and knows what's a fair price. I strongly recommend having good marketing budgets. I think that's really important. And when you go to those vendors and they're asking you what do you want and you say, I don't know, what can you do for me? Of course, they're going to show you their best case scenario case studies. Of course, they are. And of course, they're going to be like, this is what... But they may not understand your specific industry super well. They may not know your geographic area like someone in your company can know it. I mean, I work with tons of companies across the US and Canada. I don't know everything going on in Udawa, Canada. I have no idea what's going on there. And so it's really important for us to have a point of contact at the company who can communicate effectively with, this is what we want. And most agencies, I'll tell you this, most agencies, if you give them a specific goal, like, we're looking for this quality, unique traffic that's leading to a conversion, they can do it. Whatever their mood is, they can go do that. And you say, we want more sales. They're like, okay, well, how do you get sales? Well, we get it this way and this way and this way. Okay, no, but how do you want them to help you get the sale? And I think that's really important. And when you're hiring, you want those generalists. I would say the most important thing to have in house is someone managing your website and your content, like your organic. I would say that you want to be able to move quickly with that. If there's a new holiday or something happens in the news, you want someone able to be nimble. You don't need to go send four emails for something to happen. I would say those are two big things. If you have the budget for that, I would encourage to have in house. Otherwise, if you can't have those in house, find a trusted individual and someone on your staff needs to be admin on all of those things. It's a huge mistake a lot of people make. And then the other thing I would definitely encourage in house is you want that point of contact, who is that journalist who understands the branding and understands the data and they can go and find the vendors. But anyways.

Not Having a Well-defined Strategy in Place

Tim Fitzpatrick
No, I love that. And this leads into our last challenge, which is not having a well defined strategy. So one of the other big mistakes people make when hiring help is they don't have this well defined strategy and they go to hire and they're not giving... The way I look at it, again, strategy is the fuel. If you go to hire an agency and you're not giving them the fuel for the marketing vehicles that they're going to implement for you, they're trying to push these vehicles down the road. You can push a car down the road. You might get tired. You're going to stop. It's not going to work as well, as fast, as efficiently. You have got to have a well defined strategy in place first and foremost. This goes back to what you touched on earlier about knowing your ideal client profile, your buyer persona, your avatar, whatever you want to call it. It's the same thing. Who are your ideal clients? Everything from a marketing standpoint starts there. If you don't have that, you are going to waste time, you're going to waste money, you're going to use marketing channels that don't make any sense for you. I'll give you a perfect example. I actually had a conversation with a guy earlier this week who's an architect. He's a residential architect niched in the log cabin and the rustic home design market. And he's like, look, he's been doing this for 40 years, if you can believe that. And the guy does an architecture plan every day and a half. Now, anybody that knows the architecture market, that is a ton. He said to me in the conversation, he's like, look, we do more plans in a year than most architects do in their lifetime. So they're doing a ton of volume. And he's like, Look, we know who our ideal clients are. And if I went to somebody like that as a provider and just said, Oh, hey, I create and manage podcast for people. You need a podcast. And he's like, Look, our freaking ideal clients don't listen to podcasts. They don't have an hour to listen to this crap. And it's not all crap. This isn't crap. We're putting out great stuff. But he's like, If I didn't know my ideal client, I could easily go down that trap of, Oh, yeah, having a podcast would be a great idea. And then you put together a podcast and nobody's listening to it because guess what? He said, Hey, you know where my ideal clients are? They get one of five magazines for Log Homes and Rusted Homes. That's where they are. That's where I advertise. It is so important to know your ideal clients because once you know them, then you can create that list of where are they? I call it an ideal client GPS. When we work with the client, we create an ideal client GPS, and that is the list of all the places. It's a growing list. The more you use the list, the more you add to it. But you at least have a list that you can look at and go, if I am here, I'm going to fit. If I'm looking for trout, when I fish here, I know there's trout there. I'm not fishing in a place where I might catch a marlin or a shark or whatever it is because I don't want sharks. So super important with ideal clients, everything starts there. I know you got stuff to add here, Sarah.

Sarah Lefevre
Yeah. No, I feel like intent. Just in my personal life as a leader in business, intent is so important. You get where your eye... Like driving down the road or hunting. It doesn't matter what it is. It's something that you see throughout business and history and just normal life is where your eye is, where you're focused, that's where you're going. And if you don't have it defined where you're going, it's Buckshot. You're going to go everywhere. I love your example of the different fish. It's really important to know where you're going. I often use the analogy of gardening. You want to know what your soil is. Are beans going to go great here or potatoes going to go great? Or do we plant pineapples? You want to know what environment are you in that you want to plant in. And I feel like so many business owners, they don't know how to figure that out. A lot of times they just don't know. They got a lot of word of mouth at the beginning, or they have a lot of connections through school or family or whatever it may be. And that's how they got started. And they don't know how to move beyond it. And then so many agencies or third parties or friends, they'll come in and be like, Oh, don't do mailers. Mailers are dead. And it's like, Oh, for this market, mailers are the best thing. Or don't ever do print. But you know what? Being in a magazine in a luxury waiting room for private jets is probably where you want to be. And so I do. I see a lot of people make those mistakes, especially doing digital marketing. I have a lot of people tell us, well, we don't want to do advertising on Facebook. We only want to do advertising on LinkedIn. And I tell them, well, you know what? The people who are on LinkedIn, they're also on Facebook and they're also on TikTok. And so it's important to know where your people are and where they're coming from. One good way that you can define this is if you have good analytics on your website, which I recommend everyone have, you can figure out the source of where people are coming from. Are they typing it indirectly? Are they clicking on a link from search? What keywords are they searching? Are they clicking on an ad? Is it coming from Facebook? Is it coming from TikTok? Is it coming from Pinterest? We're seeing a huge shift into Pinterest and TikTok right now. So it's really important to know those things because then you know who your client is. I know I did a consult for a luxury brand, and it was really fun to do. And we got them placed into a magazine in luxury lounges for private airports. And it works great. I know working for a lighting company, print and radio was phenomenal for them. Phenomenal. We were very picky about the neighborhoods the print went to, and we were very picky about when we did radio. It was when the community was greatly involved in a sporting event or a local event. That's when we did the radio. We didn't just do radio all the time. And we were able to, man, when we doubled down on that, we got so many leads coming through those channels. But it's only because we knew who the client was, who the customer was that we were able to do those things. And then when people come to us and they're like, hey, you should do this or that, we're able to turn them away because we can ask them. When you talk to a marketer and a vendor, great question to ask is who can you target? Who are you targeting? Especially when you look at billboards and things like that, more like traditional marketing, they know those numbers, they know those, and they can tell you what it is. They can tell you what the mean income is. They can tell you all sorts of things about that area, whatever you're doing. But then you can filter it through, yes, this fits, or no, this doesn't. And if you're not at this stage yet where you don't know where that is, know you're going to experiment to find out and understand in your own mind that this is an experiment to figure out how much traffic actually goes to the website. You need to... Or whatever your conversion point is, if it's an app, sign up or whatever it may be. You want to make sure you know the source of where that's coming from so you can decipher, Oh, did the billboard work? Was the billboard helping? Now, the billboard, they didn't go to the website because of the billboard, but now our Facebook ads are performing double since we put the billboard up in that area. And so we can say, okay, having the billboard and the Facebook ad, that cross marketing is doubling the traffic from this area that's leading to leads. And so being able to dynamically analyze the data is very important.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah, that goes back to metrics tracking, right? I think one of the other things to keep in mind, this doesn't have to be rocket science. One of the simplest places that we start when we work with clients, and I recommend anybody do, is interview your ideal clients. Just talk to them and ask them questions that help you better understand the journey that they went through from the minute they started to realize, Oh, my gosh, I've got this problem that I need to solve. What happened? Why did they choose you? Why did they continue to work with you? What are the benefits they're experiencing? All this stuff that we've talked about, you can glean that information from doing client interviews. It's not a difficult thing to do. It takes time, but it's not a difficult thing to do. The information you will gather from that is invaluable, and it needs to be done to understand your ideal clients, which I think we've hammered home is super important. But the next thing to me, from a strategic standpoint, is your marketing message. You can't create a great message until you understand your ideal clients. Once you understand your ideal clients, then you can create a message that is going to grab their attention, their interest, get them to take action. And most importantly, it's a message that's in their words because it's their words that are going to resonate with them. If you don't have these things defined, your strategy is super lacking and that the actions you take to market are going to be impacted negatively.

Sarah Lefevre
Oh, I agree completely. And also to add to that, I'd also encourage where possible, if you have a client leave you, that can often be very insightful. You want to figure out, is it our personnel? Is it our systems? Is it their brother in law does the same thing to their family? You want to figure out what that stuff is because then you can also figure out why is this not our client? I know at Snow Horse Marketing, when we first got started, we served mostly women owned businesses and nonprofits, and now we've really shifted in their lives. Most of our clients who are staying with us long term that we like working with and enjoy working with are businesses who are sustainability markets, someone you'd find at a farmer's market businesses. Those are the ones that we really Excel with. And so you want to be able to be dynamic. I remember there's an example of, I think it's the chewing gum company that they started out... I can't remember what it was. It was like plumbing supplies or something. And they added, or like soap supplies, but they added gum in as a thank you for someone purchasing their product. And over the years, people bought the product because they wanted the gum, and now they just sell the gum. And so that was their trajectory. So it's important to look at these companies that have been around for decades and decades. They do adapt. They really do. I know a marketing company that they started out doing just some basic graphic design, and now they do high end I don't know the terminology for it myself, but they do the special effects for movies, which is very different from doing basic logo designs. So you'd be willing to adapt who your persona is, especially right now as the markets are changing so much. I feel like that's a lot what we're doing with most of our clients now is let's do an analysis of who is your ICP and who was your ICP, and let's see if there's a discrepancy there. So that's an important thing to just do an audit on about every two to five years or anytime there's huge economic change.

Conclusion: The Top 5 Challenges Chief Marketing Officers and Business Owners Face In Overseeing Marketing

Tim Fitzpatrick
Yeah, I love it. Sarah, I have enjoyed digging through these top five challenges. Just parting thoughts, and I'd love to get yours as well. But for me, we've covered these five challenges. If you're experiencing these, look, it is not your fault. I mean, it's so easy to go to battle these, but knowing that you're battling them and us having gone through, Hey, this is why some of these things happen. Just if you're struggling with these, well, now you have some information so you can start to take some action to remedy it and not deal with these issues. What last minute thoughts do you have to share?

Sarah Lefevre
I would just say keep moving forward. Don't get discouraged, especially if you're a business owner going through this. Know that there is help. There are skilled people out there. There's people like Tim and myself who... This is what we've done for decades. Go find those people, go connect with those people, go ask those people questions. Because I would say marketing is one of the most open industries I've ever met. There's constantly podcasts, there's things like this. We share knowledge. You'll hear about it in the market. We all copy each other. It's a joke in the marketing world because we do. We're very open industry. So start asking the questions and find the people that you can rely on and create success with. And just know that there are solutions. Believe in it. Understand that there are solutions to the challenges we're facing right now, and you can find the solution, too.

Tim Fitzpatrick
I love it. This has been a pleasure. This is one of two joint podcast I've ever done. So thank you for doing this with me, Sarah. I really appreciate it. Where can people learn more about you?

Sarah Lefevre
Yeah, you can always go to snowhorsemarketing.org, or you can find us on LinkedIn, just Snow Horse Marketing. Yeah, we are always happy to help. You're also welcome to connect with me directly. I love meeting with people and helping them out.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Cool. I love it. And for me, you can always find us over at rialtomarketing.com. The other tool that I will make available to our audience, to the Snow Horse audience is over at revenueroadblockscorecard.com. And over there, you will be able to discover and assess which of the nine revenue roadblocks are slowing down your growth and what you can do to start removing those roadblocks. So revenueroadblockscorecard.com, rialtomarketing.com, shoot over to snowhorsemarketing.org, connect with them on LinkedIn. For those of you watching, listening, I really appreciate it. I know Sarah appreciates it as well. Sarah, thank you so much for taking the time to do this with me today. I appreciate it.

Sarah Lefevre
Yeah, thank you, Tim.

Tim Fitzpatrick
Awesome. Be well.


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