Who’s On Your Marketing Team? Everyone.

July 13, 2013

Your Marketing Team

Photo credit: Flickr user WorldSkills via photopin cc


Whether you write code, collect payment, negotiate contracts or recruit new employees, we’re all in Marketing. Wikipedia defines Marketing as “the process of communicating the value of a product or service to customers, for the purpose of selling the product or service.”

While this definition is suited for businesses, cause-based organizations (e.g. non-profits, schools, universities, etc.) have Marketing teams as well. For them, the first half of the definition applies: “the process of communicating value.”

Explicit vs. Implicit Communication

Communicating value

Photo credit: Flickr user Saint Huck via photopin cc

We often think of “communicating” as an explicit action: I’m speaking to you or sending you an email; communication, however, is quite often implicit. Think about body language. It’s not an explicit form of communication. In fact, you’re often not conscious of what your body is “saying.” But body language tells us all a lot about how you’re feeling.

The same holds true for Marketing:

Explicit Marketing

Implicit Marketing
Human Resources
Engineering & Development

Now, let’s consider these functions individually.



I suppose it’s a given that the Marketing team does marketing. But here’s something some marketers may not consider: while you can help fuel demand for product and facilitate the sale, your job doesn’t end there. Marketing can play a strategic role in the important post-sale activities of onboarding and retention. Even after a sale is made, Marketing needs to continue the “process of communicating value.”


What does Sales do? They sell. They close. But Marketing does a little selling. And Sales does a little Marketing. Sales is most effective when “the process of communicating value” occurs throughout the selling process and continues post-sale. And that means the sales rep is continually doing “marketing.”


The Support Team (Marketing)

Photo credit: Flickr user EcoVirtual via photopin cc

I place Support in the explicit camp, but they really straddle both camps. They’re explicit in the amount of direct communication they provide. They’re implicit, though, in their communication of value. They don’t actively “pitch” or “market,” but they communicate (deliver) value in the actions they provide and the effectiveness of their service.




Photo credit: Flickr user Dave Dugdale via photopin cc

Finance has far more touch points with customers than many think. They negotiate payment terms, collect payments and get in touch with customers when payment is overdue. The process by which a customer interacts with Finance can be as important as the underlying product.

For instance, an online ordering and payment system (set up by Finance) can simplify the process of doing business, thereby retaining more customers. The presentation of information on an invoice (and its accuracy!) can be important to some customers. In both cases, Finance provides an implicit communication (delivery) of value.


Similar to Finance, the touch points from the Legal team shape the customer experience. Everything from the manner in which a contract is negotiated (to the contract itself) is an implicit communication of value.

Human Resources

The HR team partners with the executive team to help define and shape the culture of the organization. When HR recruits new members to the team, they’re doing marketing. To convince candidates to accept job offers, HR needs to communicate the “value” that the organization provides.

In addition, the culture that HR helps shape is fundamental to the value (both explicit and implicit) that gets communicated and delivered to prospects and customers.

Engineering & Development

Good products market themselves and result in repeat customers. Yes, developers: the hundreds of lines of code you wrote today? That was, in a sense, marketing. Welcome to the team.

Information Technology (IT)

Information Technology can “touch” both inward-facing and outside-facing systems.  For inward-facing systems, IT provides the critical resources that “Marketing” depends on. Legal, Sales, Finance, etc. cannot communicate value if these systems are not available.

For outside-facing systems (e.g. the infrastructure supporting a SaaS business), IT directly impacts the value delivered to the end customer, in the form of service availability and performance.


The next time someone asks what you do for a living, tell them: “Marketing.” Then, explain why.

An Open Letter to Marissa Mayer of Yahoo!

March 4, 2013

Image source: User gaku on flickr.

Dear Ms. Mayer,

First, a belated congratulations on the birth of your son. Congrats, as well, on your new job. Speaking of the new job, it seems your “no work from home” policy has generated a lot of commentary and discussion. Some are in your camp, while others disagree with you.

Image courtesy of Planning Startup Stories and Huffington Post

It seems most organization’s internal memos find their way “out,” so I was reading the one announcing the policy change (posted at AllThingsD). In the memo, a number of goals were outlined:

  1. We want everyone to participate in our culture and contribute to the positive momentum.
  2. To become the absolute best place to work.
  3. We need to be one Yahoo!

With respect – and, knowing what your goals are, here’s how I would have done it.

1) Create an awesome office environment.

Image source: Robert Banh on flickr.

Look to your competition (Google – a place you may know a thing or two about). They provide office environments that workers love (perhaps more than they love their homes). Google provides free food, of course (and many other free services), but it really goes beyond that. The free stuff provides a foundation on top of which a flourishing, in-office culture develops and grows.

How you create awesome office environments depends on Yahoo’s culture and personality. Just copying Google won’t necessarily work. But here’s the great thing about doing it this way: you’ll be able to draw in those remote workers because they’ll decide that the perks of being in the office outweigh the conveniences of working from home.

So don’t compel them to come into the office, but create an office environment so awesome that it’s hard for them to stay away. An awesome office environment will naturally lead to higher morale and job satisfaction scores. On the flip side: if your current office environment remains unchanged, but you compel employees to come in and work there, can you really expect to achieve great things?

2) Identify the teams for which collaboration is most productive.

To be a rock star in Accounts Payable, you don’t need to collaborate (with others) as much as the rock star in Development or Product Management.

And while I can understand that HR policies need to apply to the entire herd, I think the “spirit” of driving more collaboration should be aimed at the particular groups for which it’s most productive and valuable. I think these teams should sit in the same physical space:

  1. Engineering and Development
  2. Sales (based on region)
  3. Products (product management, product marketing)
  4. Marketing
  5. Customer and End User Support

I’m a firm believer that a great idea can surface from a product manager speaking to an attorney and an accounting director. So I understand why you want all groups in the office together.

To start, however, focus on initiatives to get particular groups collaborating – then, find opportunities for cross-collaboration (e.g. product management and customer support, to help build better products based on what customers are telling you).

3) “Hack” your way to new products (in the office, of course).

It’s a “what have you done for me lately” world and I’m sure you’re focused on delivering results now. But consider things like overnight hackathons and Google’s “20% time.”

Hackathons can produce long term gains, while adding fun, excitement and “bonding opportunities” to your office environment. After all, with a hackathon, employees are required to come into the office – but this time, there’s an explicit purpose or goal. It’s not just, “come in, go to your desk, thank you very much.”

With regard to the separate activity of “20% time,” recall that without it, the world may not have Gmail.


Full disclosure: I’ve never run my own company before. So take this advice with a grain of salt. While some have disagreed vehemently with your policy, you’ve taken a stand. Best wishes on achieving your goals. The new home page looks pretty nice.


Dennis Shiao

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