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Marketing from the Inside Out

Marketing Horizons | Marketing from the Inside Out with Tim Parkin

Is marketing’s focus on the customer misplaced, even harmful? We discussed this radical idea with Tim Parkin, a global consultant and coach to marketing executives at many world-renowned brands.

While marketers have been focusing on the customer, Tim contends that we have neglected our internal teams. They find themselves without the processes, collaboration, and alignment needed to make marketing to customers work.

Join us as Tim explains why he rates most large corporate marketing teams only a 3 out of 10 and gives us an action plan to make this right. HINT: It is tied to a clever combination of skill-based retention and a disciplined process.



Ruth Stevens: What do you mean by marketing teams are failing?

Tim Parkin: The biggest bottleneck to growth and success in marketing today is not the limited budgets. It's not your competition. It's not the data privacy changes. It's the team. It's the lack of emphasis and focus on marketing teams, on the people, on their process and on skills development. There's a massive amount of time and money and energy being wasted in most marketing organizations.

Ruth Stevens: What can be done to improve marketing teams?

Tim Parkin: First, which is somewhat controversial, we need to stop focusing solely on customers. Customers are important, but if we can't serve them, if we can't reach new customers or if we don't understand the customers, then none of that matters. We need to be our customer first. We need to support the organization that we're building. We need to have the right people, the right process and understand our purpose. And then, and only then, can we really become customer centric.

Cyndi Greenglass: How do we get marketers to think of marketing as a process?

Tim Parkin: I think a lot of marketers unfortunately think that marketing is creative. Marketing is creative to a large extent, but marketing is much more of a process than most people realize. There’s a sequence that we go through, and we need to go through. The reality on the front lines of marketing is we throw a bunch of stuff at the wall and hope something works. If it doesn’t, we decide to throw even more stuff at the wall. Senior leadership doesn’t understand marketing and that’s why marketing is seen as an add on to a company. I think there’s two functions in marketing that are severely missing, the process portion and the testing and optimizing portion. We have to test things and try things and figure out what works. It’s a methodical process to follow.

Ruth Stevens: Sometimes it feels like there is too much process at large enterprises. How do you counsel larger companies to work on their process?

Tim Parkin: I think there’s two camps that people fall into. One has no process and the other thinks process can solve anything. If you hear the stories about Steve Jobs, for example, and how we would solve problems in meetings he would run, he just focused on what really mattered. There wasn’t a process or structure. It’s what I call ruthless prioritization and we have to focus, not just prioritize, and be ruthless about it. Really focus on the core of the critical path on the issues that matter. As the famous quote goes, make it as simple as possible, no simpler. I think that is key. And you need to focus on the why. Our marketing teams need to have a purpose. You have to have the right people and, especially in the great resignation, consider hiring your customers. Your customers know your products and believe in your brand.

Cyndi Greenglass: Where do you see this going for us as marketing organizations and what advice do you have as we are heading into a recession?

Tim Parkin: It’s a huge problem and it’s only going to get worse, but there is a silver lining. Companies have lost a lot of people, losing tribal knowledge that the people who left took with them. A lot of marketing organizations are also going to agencies and vendors. There’s nothing wrong with that, but there’s a cost efficiency that is being lost and a growth acceleration that is being lost. Now is the time, more than ever, to double down on really understanding and building out your process focusing on testing and optimization. There’s so much opportunity to improve efficiencies and increase ROI to get better results by optimization. You also need to find the right people and remember that a role can be built around a person instead of trying to find someone to fit a role. Find the right people, your customers, influencers, move forward into what is going to become an even more difficult talent war with tight budgets. It’s not too hard to look into the mirror and ask is what we’re doing working. It’s a good time to stop and say what we’ve been doing may have worked but it isn’t working anymore. Test, optimize, find the right resources and people and you will be successful.

Key Takeaways/Three Little Piggies

  • Stop and reflect on what is working and what isn’t working.
  • You need to have ruthless prioritization. As simple as possible, with a process.
  • Marketing requires roots, the right people, a process and a purpose.

Marketing Communications Today presents Horizons, it’s forward-thinking, looking ahead, through the front windshield and beyond, into the marketing future. Join Cyndi and Ruth bi-weekly for new ideas, technologies, tools and strategies that are emerging to help marketers navigate over the marketing horizon.

Meet our guest

Tim Parkin

Tim Parkin is a global consultant, advisor, and coach to marketing executives of many world-renowned brands. He specializes in helping marketing teams optimize performance, accelerate growth, and maximize their results.

By applying more than 20 years of experience merging behavioral psychology and technology seamlessly, Tim has unlocked rapid and dramatic growth for global brands and award-winning agencies alike.

Tim is a speaker, author, and thought leader who has contributed to AdWeek, Forbes, MarTech, TechCrunch, and dozens of other marketing outlets. He is also a member of the American Marketing Association, the Society for the Advancement of Consulting, and was inducted into the Million Dollar Consulting Hall of Fame.

Meet the hosts

Cyndi Greenglass

Cyndi W. Greenglass is a founding partner and president at Livingston Strategies, a data-informed, strategic consulting firm that helps clients develop, execute, and measure their customer communications with a close focus on results. Cyndi has razor-sharp strategic skills matched by impeccable on-the-ground savvy and tactical abilities. She is an Adjunct Instructor in the Data Marketing Communications online master's degree program from West Virginia University.

Greenglass has twice been named into the Top 100 Influential BTB Marketers by Crain’s BtoB Magazine and was the 2012 CADM Chicago Direct Marketer of the Year. She is a member of the Board of Advisors for BRAND United and has taught, trained and presented at over 50 conferences throughout the world.

Ruth Stevens

Ruth P. Stevens consults on customer acquisition and retention, for business-to-business clients. Ruth serves on the boards of directors of the HIMMS Media Group, and the Business Information Industry Association. She is a trustee of Princeton-In-Asia, past chair of the Business-to-Business Council of the DMA, and past president of the Direct Marketing Club of New York.

Ruth was named one of the 100 Most Influential People in Business Marketing by Crain’s BtoB magazine, and one of 20 Women to Watch by the Sales Lead Management Association. She serves as a mentor to fledgling companies at the ERA business accelerator in New York City.


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