9 ways to annoy your marketing team – and 9 ways to make them happy

It was a glorious day. Q3 just ended with our client, a B2B startup, blowing past its goals, and Marketing delivering an amazing pipeline for Q4. 

And then, an ominous email landed in my inbox…

Sender: Startup CEO
Subject: VERY IMPORTANT edits for whitepaper

Two critical updates, please change ASAP

1. Change “cutting edge” to “bleeding edge”
2. Change “our revolutionary and innovative solution” to “our innovative and revolutionary solution”

Also, attached is the marketing strategy presentation I created for the board. 

Can you make it pretty?


Thank you CEO! Your email inspired me to write the ultimate guide to things that annoy your marketing team… and how to do better. Dedicated, with love, to CEOs, Sales, and everyone else working with marketers.

Make no mistake: This is not to say we marketers are not open to feedback, criticism, and fresh ideas. By all means, keep them coming! Consider this post a cheeky guide for getting more out of your marketing team by better understanding its capabilities and limitations. 

PS – I’m fully aware that we marketers can be annoying, as well, and looking forward to reading your rebuttal post.

The ultimate guide to things that annoy your marketing team… and how to do better

Want to annoy your marketing team? 😡
Say this:
And here’s how to do better 😊
“We need to triple the number of demo requests we get / get WSJ press coverage / be on the first page of Google for “CRM” … by end of month”We’re all for high expectations, but be realistic about timing, and willing to invest in both short- and long-term activities. Not everything can be urgent. 
“We need 50 demos every month (and I don’t care our TAM is 500 companies)”Stretch goals? We’re all for them. But unrealistic, arbitrary ones won’t get you anywhere. Be open to building a marketing plan together with the marketing team, and being educated about what marketing goals are, and what stretch + reasonable looks like.
“Let’s JUST launch a PPC campaign… It’s so EASY! Look, I just started a Google Ads campaign on my own personal account and it took me five minutes!”Remove the words “Just” and “Easy” from your vocabulary. Respect professionalism born out of years of domain experience. You wouldn’t have your marketers write code, right?

(oh and that Google Ads campaign? It’ll siphon off serious $$$ very quickly if you don’t have a professional manage it.)
Hey EVERYONE, what do you think about this logo / tagline / 3-page messaging doc?”Just because everyone can read and see, doesn’t mean they can provide meaningful feedback on marketing assets. Remember – marketing by committee make unicorns cry. Instead, trust your team of professionals to steward your brand to excellence — while having a small, select group of individuals outside of marketing weigh in.
(Pro tip – this select group should rarely include board members) 
“Attached is the sales deck I created for GE. Can you make it pretty?”You’re paying us a lot of money, so we recommend making use of our strategic prowess (in addition to our execution mastery). How about working together on the content of the sales deck, in addition to making sure the design is 💯?
“We didn’t hit our revenue goals this quarter!
→ The leads aren’t good!
→ CMO, you’re fired!”
Instead of immediately — and solely — blaming marketing when the company doesn’t hit its goals, analyze the situation collaboratively to figure out potential improvements for every team (yes, that includes admitting your product might not be perfect). 
“I think ‘enthusiastic’ sounds much better than ‘excited’”Instead of subjective, stylistic edits, provide feedback on substance, and share your product / industry domain knowledge. 
“Our competitor just tweeted “Happy Thanksgiving” five minutes before we did. We need to update our competitive marketing strategy.”We’re not saying you should ignore the competition. But as this post explains so well, there’s a difference between being aware of your competitors, and obsessing over their every move. You shouldn’t let an obsession with the competition distract you – and your marketing team – from what matters: providing value to your target audience.
🤐 (not saying anything)Marketing thrives on feedback from the field.  Brainstorm and suggest ideas for future campaigns. Share feedback on what’s needed during the sales process (e.g. collateral, swag). Share feedback from prospects, especially how they heard about us (oh, and update it in the CRM!). Tell us if our messaging is resonating with prospects and analysts. Even anecdotal feedback is great – “a prospect just told me how much they loved the latest podcast episode!”
Your marketing team is eager to hear from you. 

The bottom line

Ultimately, we’re all in this together, and share the same business goals: create a 🔥 brand, generate sales pipeline, the works. For best results, treat Marketing as your strategic + execution partner, respect our professionalism, and… don’t annoy us. 🙂

Netta is the founder and CEO of Blue Seedling. She loves third wave coffee, thin crust pizza, and B2B marketing.

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