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The Parable of the Monkey Tree

This post originally appeared on B2B Marketing Insider. Since it recounts a story from an existing SAP executive, I thought the SAP community might enjoy it. Can you guess who told this story?

Sometimes it seems like marketers in the trenches, marketing leaders and our agency partners are all talking different languages. We’re not on the same page…

We should all be working toward the same goal of growing our businesses by meeting customer needs. But something gets in the way…

The problem, it seems, is that we see completely different challenges in the roles we play and are quick to point fingers to the other.

We’re certainly not on the same page, and recent research shows this disconnect. I’ll review the research and propose the parable of the monkey tree to explain the results.

When I read through the Forester Navigating Tech Marketing survey with GMG Insights and the results they reported I was initially surprised at how far apart Marketing Directors, CMOs/VPs and agencies really are. A few highlights:

  • CMOs / VPs are most concerned with the “what” of marketing: ROI, alignment between sales and marketing and generating more quality leads (a common complaint from sales leaders)
  • Marketing Directors are more concerned with the “how” of marketing: marketing mix, process and technology concerns, consistency, messaging and how budgets are being used.
  • Agencies feel that they do not have the tools or the time to support their clients: they cite gaps in the data from the media landscape,  tools to analyze media performance, experience in B2B Markets and the time required to be effective.

That was the open-ended portion of the study and it evolved just about how we might think. Marketing leaders are concerned with the issues of managing their marketing resources, Marketing Directors are concerned with execution concerns and agencies are struggling to keep up with the demands of their clients.

But a further review of the top concerns from a list of marketing challenges shows a deeper, more concerning divide:
  • The top concerns of CMOs / VPs cover the approach to the market: reaching the audience across the vast array of media outlets, the effectiveness of media plans, media testing and buyer research.
  • The top concerns of Marketing Directors cover more strategic issues like the lack of fact-based business plans to drive investment, how well messaging is resonating, gaining regional alignment and content marketing.

When asked about which tools were most important in B2B Technology Marketing, GMG summarized the disconnect this way:

  • Agencies want the data to plan accurately and justify planning decisions.
  • Directors want to get the messaging and content right to drive leads.
  • CMOs want accountability for budget decisions.

And while the gaps between CMOs / VPs who are looking for budget accountability, Marketing Directors who are more concerned with execution and Agencies who are looking to catch a break, are understandable, the biggest concern for me was the conclusion that many decisions in technology marketing are made without fact-based, quantitative buyer or concrete business results.

Or as this quote from the survey indicated, much of technology marketing is “upside down. 10% of the campaigns are driving 90% of the leads.”

The Parable Of The Monkey Tree

A business leader here at SAP once told a large group of colleagues this parable, that may explain some the disconnect:

An organization is like a tree full of monkeys,…all on different limbs,… at different levels,…some climbing up.

The monkeys on the top look down and see a tree full of smiling faces.

The monkeys on the bottom look up and see nothing but [the monkeys backsides].

So I’ll propose what this research and the parable might be telling us:

If you’re a marketing leader, enjoy the perspective you have been given and take a few moments to lend a hand to some of your team. Pull them up with your perspective, your time and your attention to the struggles they face every day.

If you’re climbing up the tree, accept accountability for the responsibility you’re given and help those above you to see the important issues you face every day.

And to all the marketing monkeys out there, let’s stop making technology marketing decisions on past history, gut feel and anything other than logic, research and facts.

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