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How "Marketing as Business with Crayons" Generates a $51M Pipeline

I’m writing this article sitting at my dining room table; the dog is barking to be let in the backdoor, four of my six kids are in various places around the house, and my uneaten dinner sits next to me -- but instead of eating dinner, letting the dog in, or doing any other number of things I could and should be doing, I’m writing this article. 

Why? 

Because the concept that marketing is often over-fluffed, oversold, and could apply for a job as a side-show trick in the circus is something I know I don’t hold alone. Yet, I struggle to find anything online expressing not only what I feel but what I know. 

Let’s Start with the Proof

I know the appropriate structure for a business blog; I should hook you in, tell you I understand your pain, present a few options (one of which is me, by the way), and then at the very end, leave you wanting more. But, fuck that, at least for a moment -- before I tell you why I believe deep down in my jellies that marketing is just business with crayons, I want to show you some proof…

Today, while preparing a report of one of the companies we’re a part of, I discovered that the marketing pipeline generated by all channels totaled:

$51,000,000.00

This company is in a highly competitive niche industry, pretty much our bread and butter. Their solutions are incredibly technical, the audience is so knowledgeable that anything that sounds like bullshit is sniffed out immediately, and the stakes are high -- HIGH high. 

The total pipeline is the total revenue potential of deals generated by marketing efforts, and this was accomplished over the past two years. This means during a pandemic, economic uncertainty, and political influence (in this company’s industry), marketing held its own. 

And no, this isn’t bullshit. This is all tracked via their CRM and validation of the data. 

Now that the proof is at the front of your mind; let’s explore a few fundamental ideals/beliefs that guided us toward these results.

The Fluffication of Marketing is the Worst

In contrast to those pontificating about the coffee consumed by the drafter of an RFP, we focus on the business objectives of the company that hired us to generate results. At some point, I’m going to sound redundant, but I’m so early in this article I feel like I have the freedom to push the limits; by paragraph four, I’ll use some restraint…we accomplished this by approaching marketing as if it were simply business with crayons.

It seems silly to say, right? Maybe a little bit degrading to the 10.6 million marketing professionals in the world?

It shouldn’t -- here’s why it is the finest compliment I can give:

For too long, especially over the last decade, marketing and marketers have been viewed as “crazy creatives” or a commodity. We’re brought in to make a social post, design an email, or create TikTok videos replicating what the CEO likes. Instead of treating marketing as a line item on a P&L, requesting ridiculous shit, or requesting x-number of leads within 2 months, the conversation should shift to, “What should we be doing to reach more buyers and make more money.”

Or, when we are invited to the Big Business Table, it's to justify the marketing spend -- never asked how we should make more money. 

Marketing is as BUSINESS as business gets. Guys, we touch and have to understand everything: 

  1. We need to have the same fluency around our product/service as those that developed it
  2. We need to understand WHAT our target market wants 
  3. We need to be informed about how well it’s all going, and sometimes we’re more in the know than customer service because people LOVE to use Twitter as the Contact Us option no one asked them to use just to complain 
  4. We need to understand the sales cycle to determine our needs for demand to meet company goals 
  5. We need to be fluent in our organizational goals to build the right plan that will meet them 
  6. We should be informing improvements to the product/service and business direction

For too damn long, we’ve believed our job has been to write the compelling copy, design the next e-book, panic over the blip in traffic from the weekend, and defend EVERYTHING we do with the fierceness of my 2-year-old, Dakota.

Entire companies have been built to tell you how to do your job. Coaches and consultants are targeting us and telling us everything we need to know. Now don’t get me wrong, I love to have resources to visit to help me learn. It’s important to know what’s changing and what new tools are available, but so much of our profession has been reduced down to:

🏎️ “Let us help you build a revenue engine!”
🚀 “If you don’t know about PLM, then you’re a lousy marketer!”
🕵️ “MARKETING IS CHANGING; STAY AHEAD OF IT”

Literal fucking eye roll 🙄

Understanding the trends, tools, and changes is essential but do you know what CEOs love more than a marketer who uses and knows all the trends? 

One that produces a pipeline worth 51 million dollars. 

I’ll bet my career on that, and honestly, I have.

Marketing Is… Altogether Now, Business With Crayons

If it’s not our job to simply make ourselves feel better by being able to list all of the current MarTech tools in alphabetical order AND their current G2 ratings, what is it? 

As I shared above, I don’t view the belief that marketing is business with crayons as a negative, degrading statement, but instead, as a rallying cry to shake the fluff and get down to business ("to defeat the Huns")!

We generated this pipeline with our colleagues within that company by letting go of the need to impress with fancy decks, special tools, and the magic of Canva. Instead, we: 

...spent a lot of time becoming fluent with our solution set and, more importantly, the environments in which they’d be used. BS+Co. dedicated hundreds of un-billed time for our strategists to learn and understand their market


…bugged out every division leader, salesperson, technician, engineer, and leadership member we could get our hands on. We collectively spent even MORE time diving into the business. What were our objectives? What were the challenges we were facing in reaching them? What strategic initiatives were the highest priority for the CEO?


…we weren’t afraid to look stupid by asking simple questions. Instead of looking for ways to leverage some newly rebranded strategy, we simply asked ourselves:
    • What does our target market need? 
    • What are they looking for? 
    • How are they making their decisions? 
    • What regulations are they facing?

…we did things that made sense. I know I’m pushing the limit on how cheeky I can be in this article when the subject I’m talking about is pretty serious. Let’s blame it on the lack of food. But, again, instead of trying to flex our marketing knowledge muscles, we laser-focused on the strategies and tactics that would put us in front of our targets.

  • We built a comprehensive messaging plan; designed to highlight who we are and what we do. 
  • We leveraged organic search, pillar content, and technical SEO. 
  • We also leveraged the SHIT out of those leaders, engineers, and sales team members I mentioned above. We kindly asked them to open their brains and dump the contents into ours. 
  • We executed without any of the agency bullshit that exists. We simply did what we needed to do. (I’ve got plenty of articles expressing my vendetta against marketing agencies -- you’re welcome to find one!) 
  • We pivoted early and often. As the market changed, we changed with it. As the needs of our sales team shifted, we shifted faster. When our strategic plan was turned upside down, we learned to write from the ceiling.
  1.  

Because we didn’t care about looking like America’s Next Top Marketer, we simply focused on the formula of business, and we leveraged our creativity, skills, experiences, and knowledge to wrap a brilliant business plan (not mine, theirs) with attractive assets (hence the crayons)

No, This Article Isn’t About You

Something I’ve struggled with since starting BS+Co. is finding the right balance of being honest about my experiences as a marketing professional and not being like,”ya’ll know this is bullshit. You’re just seeking celebrity, right?”

The reality is that I deeply love marketing, but I love business more.

And when we step back from working so hard to appear valuable or make everything as automated as possible and just focus on business fundamentals, we make actual magic happen. 

Let’s, as an industry, take our creativity, inventiveness, and desire to innovate and bring it together with the foundations of the actual business, forcing our neighboring non-marketing professionals to notice when we’re coming -- and even better, to be so damn excited that marketing is involved that they can’t stand it. 

By approaching "marketing as business with crayons," we allow for statements like: 

“Whew, when I heard you were with marketing, I thought you were going to try to put me on Instagram.” 

To the same person a couple of months later,

“Never has anyone from marketing EVER been able to articulate what we do to the point that you could be an engineer. I didn’t know marketing could be like this.” 

And we give ourselves the pleasure of reporting pipelines that show our value.

 

Written by Britt Schwartz

headshotcircles (5)Britt is the founder, CEO, chairman of the board, and the Princess of the Treasury (no, her partner Bob did not approve that title) of BS+Co. and simply the CEO + Co-Founder of Decisive Capital. During the day, you’ll find her sitting 10 feet from her desk, with her hands in the air in a big expression or her fingers going a million miles an hour on her keyboard. Her passion for being ‘different for the better’ is reflected in everything she does, even writing an interestingly formatted article like this one or being researched for the unique company structure she co-developed. While never quite polished enough for corporate, not that she minds, Britt’s ability to level the playing field by narrowing in on what really matters makes up for it. Tune in next time for a totally different byline bio.