On August 2018 I had a random thought “What are the challenges that Marketers struggle with that hinders them from getting the results they want?”
Sure I knew the challenges I have, but what about other Marketers?
Seeking the answer to this burning question, I decided to do my own independent research.
That quest has led us to where we are today. Me putting together this report and you reading it.
Based on the findings it is clear that Marketers are burdened by the everyday challenges of achieving results that stem from lack of funding and resources, inadequate time to effectively execute on campaigns, as well as pressure from management to deliver immediate results.
This report uncovers the main priorities and objectives Marketers have, as well as the obstacles that
hinders them from achieving those priorities and objectives.
My hope is that it will not only give you insights, but a greater perspective into the business environment us Marketers, specifically in Jamaica, face in getting results.
If you find any value in this report be sure to share it with other Marketers so it can also add value to them.
How the Research was Conducted (Methodology)
This report presents data from Marketers in Jamaica.
The source I used to gather the data was LinkedIn. Over a four (4) month period (September 2018 – December 2018) 128 Marketers were contacted via LinkedIn’s messaging platform and asked four (4) questions.
I then took another two (2) months to gather, organize and interpret the data, and documented the results.
The four questions asked were:
Of all your objectives as a Marketer what do you consider to be the #1 priority?
What are the top 2 challenges/hindrances keeping you from achieving that objective?
What are 3 top daily responsibilities you have as a Marketer?
What daily obstacles make performing these responsibilities more difficult?
The questions were not in a multiple choice or closed ended format. I kept the questions open-ended because I wanted each person to be able to freely express their thoughts.
This was so I could get a clear, deeper, and more meaningful understanding of their responses, rather than controlling their responses by limiting the answers available to choose from.
The individuals represented different marketing roles. From Marketers at the entry level, to mid-level Marketing Managers, to Marketers at the most senior executive levels that worked within organizations.
Another set comprised of Marketers who were self-employed, be it freelancers working as sole proprietors or CEOs of marketing agencies with a team they lead.
Additionally, some fell in the category of independent consultants and marketing data analysts.
I wanted as broad a spectrum as possible so I could get insights from different roles at different levels so that all (or as much as possible) were adequately represented in the data set.
The subsequent pages detail the results.
Data Set 1: Of all your objectives as a Marketer what do you consider to be the #1 priority?
As represented by the graph 52.9% of the respondents said a sales-focused objective is their highest priority.
This includes lead generation, sales conversions (converting leads to paying customers), customer acquisition (different ways they can get new customers), and overall improving profitability, be it for the company they work for or their clients.
This was particularly surprising for me as my expectation going into this research was that Marketers would have Brand Awareness as their highest priority.
What this tells me is that Marketers are starting to realize the value in how their efforts contribute to the revenue growth of the company, and know Brand Awareness alone isn’t enough.
Another interpretation could be that companies are most concerned about how marketing drives sales for the company, and as such have made it the main measure of success for marketing.
The data may also show that it still remains a mystery to most companies how marketing plays a role in helping to drive and increase sales for the company.
The second highest priority for Marketers based on the data is audience or customer engagement at 29.4%. Some of the ways respondents described these objectives were activities around creating unforgettable campaigns, campaigns that break through the noise and leave a lasting impression, authentic audience experiences, and creating content that connects with the audience.
Third at 11.8% is a focus on Brand Awareness. Covered in this category are objectives such as getting the brand of the company out there, and shaping the brand image of the company to one that is recognizable.
My assumption as to why Brand Awareness may be so low on the priority list is that Marketers have figured out how to drive awareness for their company’s brand and get their message in front of their intended audience.
The greater challenge lies in the first two priorities (sales and engagement). The higher the priority, the more Marketers may find it challenging to accomplish it seems.
Finally, I categorized the remaining responses under ‘Other’ which represented 5.9% of respondents.
Activities such as effectively communicating the brand’s message, and customer retention fell within this category.
Data Set 2: What are the top 2 challenges/hindrances keeping you from achieving that objective?
For this specific data set keep in mind that there is an overlap of responses, since respondents could provide two responses instead of one. Therefore, the numbers will not add up to exactly 100% in this case.
Of their top two challenges, an overwhelming 82.4% of Marketers stated lack of funding is their number one challenge as a major obstacle in achieving their objectives.
Comments such as management unwilling to invest in personnel and marketing, or the company’s unwillingness to invest in digital strategies to execute effectively.
There are two sides to this story based on the data:
1). Marketers feel as though they lack the support of management or the company overall to invest in resources to execute the type of effective marketing campaigns they need to achieve their marketing goals
2). Management fails to see the value of marketing. An assumption may be Marketers may not have done enough to show or communicate marketing's value to the overall growth of the organization.
The second major challenge at 29.4% was time being a factor in how successful or how effective they are at executing their responsibilities to achieve their stated objectives.
Some believed that often times they are rushed to achieve short-term objectives. Others stated that they were constantly given unreasonable deadlines for specific projects, or not being given enough time to execute campaigns effectively.
As it relates to time a few had mentioned that because they had to get so much done in a day, they lacked the time needed to get a lot of important tasks done that would either help in the growth of their business or the growth of the company.
11.8% of respondents stated that one of the challenges they faced was management not seeing the value in marketing, which would confirm why management seem to be reluctant to invest in marketing.
In this instance I believe Marketers could do more to show the value of their efforts. One way to do this is to show, through data, how their marketing efforts tie back into increasing revenue and customer acquisition or retention for the company.
In other words, how marketing can help the company save money or make money.
Other responses that were not among the top challenges and were too far apart in establishing a commonality or pattern were:
- Lack of creativity
Lack of strategy in marketing execution
Balancing business objectives with marketing message
Customers not being at the focus of marketing strategy and execution
Management setting far-fetched targets
Measurability of marketing approach (lack of tools)
Marketing not having the support from the sales team
Hiring the right staff
Guidelines and policies that hinders the creative process
Data Set 3: What are 3 top daily responsibilities you have as a Marketer?
This data set is more dispersed compared to other findings. This is due to the fact there are several variables and factors that affect what a Marketer may focus on in their day-to-day responsibilities.
For example, a factor that caused variations in response would be the role of each respective Marketer.
Marketers at the entry level position are responsible for execution of the strategy, while mid-level takes a more strategic position managing the team, keeping abreast of the industry, and developing the strategic goals and plan
They may also monitor outcomes to ensure they are delivering on the company’s objectives as a part of their job function.
Those at the higher senior levels also do the same, as well as develop the overall strategic direction for the entire marketing team (in some cases the entire company).
The difference may be that Marketers at the highest levels take only a strategic role, whereas the mid-level marketers take both a strategic, and when the need arises, an “in the trenches” execution role.
However, those who are self-employed, such as freelancers or own their own agency, tend to wear all hats, from training and leading their team, managing and motivating their team, plus developing and executing the strategy.
There were a few commonalities in daily tasks at each level, but for the most part majority of the data collected showed varying responsibilities on a daily basis.
Business Development, which included any sales related activity accounted for the highest number of a Marketer’s daily responsibilities at 29.4%. This involved activities such as lead generation, sales follow-ups, managing sales team or sales activities, prospecting, or building relationships with corporate players for opportunities to partner.
Tying at 17.6% was Content Creation, which included blogging and creating graphics for Social Media posting or to assist in lead generation, Developing new concepts and strategies for marketing campaigns and overall revenue growth, Communicating the brand message to the intended audience, and Keeping abreast of industry trends and best practices.
Social Media Management, which comprised of posting, media monitoring and community engagement accounted for the lowest of the categorized data sets at 11.8%.
Other daily responsibilities that were not enough to substantiate creating a category were:
- Motivating team to achieve objectives
Managing marketing campaigns
Managing client inventory (for agencies)
Managing email campaigns
Client risk mitigation
Data Set 4: What daily obstacles make performing these responsibilities more difficult?
After reviewing the final set of data I started realizing common patterns among Marketers showing which challenges mostly kept them from operating and executing their daily tasks effectively. More or less they fall within three main categories: Time, Money, and Team Dynamics.
For clarity keep in mind this data refers to daily tasks, not overall objectives or priorities.
Of the three, the number one obstacle Marketers stated made performing their daily activities more difficult was Team Dynamics at 47.1%.
To give a better understanding of this category here we are looking at things such as Marketers stating there is a lack of talent to execute the type of campaigns needed or the team being inexperienced.
Additionally, team members being unorganized and unmotivated to get the job done, and a slow decision making process by team members to move ahead with execution.
Finally, changing work dynamics within the organization at the managerial level that leaves the team uncertain of what to do next, which creates confusion, and slows execution and meeting deadlines.
The second greatest challenge of the three Marketers mentioned was Time at 41.2%. Lack of adequate time to execute campaigns and complete other marketing responsibilities, and management wanting immediate results, both of which causes rush deliver on work and low quality according to these Marketers.
They also stated that inadequate time also led to inability to focus on main tasks because of so many other demands that needed to be completed in a given day.
Some stated time management on their part as one of the reasons why some tasks were unable to be completed within a given day.
Finally, at 23.5% Money (or lack of it) was the third factor that affected completing daily responsibilities.
What I found even more fascinating with the results from Question 4 compared to the results from Question 2 is Marketers mentioned money as the main challenge keeping them from achieving their overall job objectives in Question 2.
However, of the top three (3) in Question 4 Money is the lowest and Team Dynamics is the highest that Marketers believe keeps them from executing their daily tasks effectively.
It leads me to believe that in the grand scheme of things Marketers identify lack of money or resources as their greatest hindrance to overall success. However, in the daily execution of their responsibilities they believe Team Dynamics is the greatest hindrance.
Conclusions based on findings: Moving Forward
The real question that needs to be answered based on the findings is what needs to happen to move forward in ensuring Marketers can work more effectively, and reduce or eliminate obstacles to success.
I categorize it in three ways:
What is needed from management/company
What is needed from the team
What areas individual Marketers need to work on improving
WHAT IS NEEDED FROM MANAGEMENT/COMPANY
It’s unreasonable, and I would even say unfair, to expect Marketers to deliver on certain KPIs and objectives if they lack the internal resources and talent to get the job done.
Management should not see marketing as an afterthought, but should recognize that it holds tremendous value, especially in this day and age.
This is because customers’ buying behaviours have changed from what they used to be. Taking a heavily sales-focused and sales-driven approach is no longer as effective as it was. Consumers today have many more options available to them, not just locally but globally through major players such as Amazon.
Therefore, the company needs to recognize that investing more in marketing, specifically branding, is key in helping them stay relevant and sustain revenues and profits over the long-term, as buyers become more inclined to buy from brands that are customer-focused, not sales-focused.
Marketing plays a key role in making this happen, and as such must be given just as much priority as sales functions within the organizations.
Management also needs to create greater flexibility and exercise greater patience in allowing their team to execute campaigns to drive results. Marketing doesn’t yield an immediate ROI, it’s a long-term play, but one that pays off several times over for life.
WHAT IS NEEDED FROM THE TEAM
Team dynamics within a company or executing a campaign can be a very complex and tedious, especially when things need to get done and decisions need to be made to help things progress in a timely manner as they should.
Teams need to create a system of accountability and a set a standard that everyone can work with, while still giving everyone the flexibility how they work best.
One example from my personal experience is working on executing a marketing strategy for a client that involves Content Marketing, Copywriting, Email Marketing, and Social ad strategy.
A part of the delays we were experiencing was from the designer who took longer than expected to get the graphics we needed to go with the copy. Another challenge was decisions that needed to happen quickly from the client but were often delayed.
We came to the consensus where each week each person had a set of deliverables that they had to complete within the space of one week. We ensured that each team member’s tasks were manageable, that they could complete with as little delays as possible to help the project proceed as it should.
WHAT AREA INDIVIDUAL MARKETERS NEED TO WORK ON IMPROVING
I believe the number one thing that Marketers need to do a better job at is constantly communicating and showing the value of Marketing, based on what management deems valuable to the company.
I have found as Marketers too often we get caught up in metrics and KPI’s that have no real bearing on the growth or success of the company, and the goals the company deems important. Things such as having a huge Social Media following, or Impressions or Reach are all well and good, but now we must do the work of translating that data to actionable insights that get business results.
Yes I do agree brand building is important, but we also need to recognize that it’s a goal that takes time to bear fruit. Therefore, we need to also look on the short-term goals that we can achieve to drive revenue for the company.
By doing so, we can show the company why marketing is valuable, and thus get more funding for projects that are important to us, but still helps the overall success of the company, both in the short and long-term.
You can click the download button below to get the PDF version of this research