Big Company Marketers Need to Influence

    June 8, 2007

I was talking to the Web team for a large multinational company today, emphasizing the importance of setting up governance to make sure that the entire company mobilizes around their marketing efforts.

At one point, they stopped me and said, "No, we don’t have to do that because we have the whole team here."

Unfortunately, unless it’s the CEO talking, that’s never true.

Too often the problem that we are trying to solve in big companies is so large that it hurts our brains to even think about it.

We naturally cut the problem down to size because that gives us control.

We want to shrink the challenge to something that is within our sphere of control.

The bad news is that Internet marketing never works that way.

Take search marketing. The person who spoke to me today manages a large team that controls the IT infrastructure, including Webmasters, content management systems, and the real guts of what makes their Web site—worldwide.

But that’s only a fraction of the folks that need to make search marketing work.

What about the rest? The writers that put the words on the site. The translators that produce the pages in other languages.

The product manager that names the product. The marketing person who decides the core messaging.

All of these folks (and many more) have key impacts on the success of your organic search marketing. And nobody controls all of them in a worldwide enterprise, except the CEO.

Your job is to influence them. To rewrite the processes that define their jobs.

To evangelize the importance of what you want them to do. To develop operational metrics that check up on them. All of these actions (and more) influence people you don’t have control over.

And it’s not just search marketing. You need to do the same thing with all Web 2.0 marketing. You’ll never have a blogging department. You can’t outsource it, either. You need to get your whole company (or big chunks of it, anyway) to take on these new marketing approaches.

Nobody can do it with command and control.

Just as marketers have to give up message control to settle for influencing conversations, they must also realize that they don’t control marketing within their company on the Web—the smart ones influence it.