Marketers occupy a unique position within a business.  What we do is by its nature public and visible.  Others within the business can see exactly what we are doing and also what our competitors are doing.  Every one of us consumes marketing messages all day, every day, so we feel like experts.  This all seems to give every employee the ability to comment, review, critique and suggest alternatives on every aspect of the marketing mix.

I call this “marketing without a license” and I believe it is a very serious issue. Maybe it’s not a felony, but certainly something that should be addressed.

After all, few folks will ever march into the CFO’s office and suggest a different way to amortize goodwill or recognize revenue.  No one visits the corporate council with ideas about the company’s legal structure.  Why then do folks from every level of the company feel empowered to stop the head marketing guy in the hall and say “have we ever considered” or” how come we don’t…”

It really doesn’t matter why.  The fact is marketing needs to find a way to get ahead of the curve and deal with this.  To not do so can threaten marketing’s credibility within the organization.  Without knowing the strategies and constraints marketing has, key constituents within every part of your company can lose faith in marketing.  When that happens to the sales team, the results can erode the gains you make in the market.

How then to avoid this?  I suggest it’s a matter of communication.  Share your marketing plans and the strategies that underlie them.  Tell the company and especially the sales team, where you are going this month/quarter/year.  Explain why.  Articulate what results are expected.  Let’s be clear that I am not talking about sending out a 50-slide PowerPoint and thinking you have completed the task.  It needs to be a dialog.  You’ll also likely get some good ideas from the sales team, as they are out fighting at the front lines of your industry.  Once they understand the method behind marketing’s madness, they can become your ally and will articulate your message better when they need to.

If you do this (as I have) you’ll discover that a good portion of the team didn’t fully realize the thought behind the company’s core strategy or market targets.  Subtleties that marketing folks take for granted such as the reason the logo is red or the thought behind the tagline, are not obvious to most people.  But if you bring them into the fold and the light bulb goes on for them, you’ve likely made them an advocate.

Give this one a try.  It will pay benefits on several levels.  In the all-important relationship between sales and marketing, it will strengthen the bond and help you work together as a team.  It will also hopefully change the “marketing without a license” conversations to a more useful exchange.

Have you ever experienced this phenomenon?  Do all of your employees fully understand where marketing is going?

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