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I hate meetings. Let me say that off top. Raise your hand if you've ever left a meeting where you said to yourself: "Wow! That was riveting!" Anyone? So why do we do it to ourselves? They lop off chunks of valuable time on our calendars every week to execute a task that we can all agree provides limited value.
But perhaps its not the meetings themselves but how we conduct them, who leads them, how and most importantly what's the central purpose.
When you think of a marketing meeting you envision the most senior executive at the head of the table going around the room, getting updates, frying anyone deemed not on point and offering an occasional that-a-boy to an over-performing individual (if not brown nosers.) But what real value does that add?
With CRM, communication applications and other martech tools, there are far more efficient ways get updates, track progress and report out. However marketing meetings CAN be a useful exercise if executed appropriately. Here are 6 secrets to running the best marketing meetings.
I hate to break it to you, but marketing is nothing without a sales team closing deals. Therefor there's no reason to have a marketing meeting without sales. Conversely, sales meetings are useless if you're not discussing the leads that marketing is developing for the sales team. Hubspot uses a cutesy term called "Smarketing" Marketing and sales teams MUST have a symbiotic relationship in order for your sales funnel to be effective.
You might be asking yourself: Our sales team and marketing team don't get along, why would we bring them together? That's kind of the point and why THIS meeting is not another exercise. Almost by very nature, marketing and sales shouldn't and don't agree on much. We call it creative tension. Marketing thinks in terms of lead qualification, funnel and rules while sales often breaks rules, thinks in terms of deals and close rates.
A survey conducted by the Corporate Executive Board found that "87% of the terms sales & marketing use to describe each other are negative." Conversely a study by the Aberdeen Group, found that companies with strong marketing and sales alignment saw 20% annual revenue growth verses those with poor alignment where revenues declined by 4%. If that doesn't scare you into getting your teams together, I don't know what will.
So what do you do in these meetings? Simply put, solve problems. Far too often a sales process is created and expected to produce results in the present and future. We see it on the agency side and at the client level. It doesn't work that way. Technology changes, interests wain, your pipeline gets leaky and its important for sales and marketing to use this time to solve problems by following these four easy steps:
If you go back to that picture I painted of a boardroom meeting, the boss is always at the head. If you want to make progress in your marketing meetings, ditch the execs. They're not necessary and stifle progress. No one is going to feel comfortable discussing problems in a blueprint with the people that created it in the room. Even if the culture of your organization welcomes constructive criticism, leadership isn't necessary. Remember, you're only there to solve problems. Instead focus on those people that are in the trenches daily to see those problems and innovate ways in which they can be fixed.
There is nothing worse than a marathon meeting that drags on and on. There is absolutely NO reason why a meeting should last any longer than one hour. In Chet Holmes (R.I.P.) book, The Ultimate Sales Machine, he discusses holding one-hour meetings as a measure of good time management. If you set an agenda before-hand, pre-determine how long each item should take and hold all members accountable to being respectful of time, you'll notice you won't need marathon meetings and get the same value.
I know it might seem to make sense and be tempting to run the marketing meeting. However, given your objective to simply solve problems, it can tip the scales towards bias. Consider hiring a neutral moderator. Someone who is authoritative but has no bias towards marketing or sales. Their purpose is to keep the discussion moving, keep everyone on task and on time. They should be able to balance the discussion giving an opportunity for all voices to be heard. Designers, engineers and IT professionals are great for this because they can bring additional value to the table you weren't thinking about.
We not only believe in diversity in the workplace but also in thought. It eliminates groupthink and provides for a more rounded and global perspective. However, you can't get that if everyone doesn't contribute. There are 5 types of passive meeting attendees we see and corresponding ways to address them:
Marketing meetings can be a drag. However, by getting buy-in from sales and engaging parties that are committed to identifying problems and finding solutions, your time investment of one hour will reap dividends in the form of growth and your bottom line.