After a year of conversations around the challenges women in this role face, Strategy House has formally launched Women in Marketing in Manufacturing (WiMiM).
We developed WiMiM as a monthly support group for anyone in the role to connect with peers facing similar challenges, address key issues together, provide feedback on ongoing initiatives, and to help develop the next wave of talent in marketing in manufacturing.
Manufacturers are investing in marketing
The changing landscape of manufacturing has resulted in companies investing in marketing in an unprecedented way. For the first time in years, or sometimes ever, manufacturers are hiring new people in the marketing department.
Historically, marketing has been a department that’s been relegated to creating sales presentations, ordering company branded polos, or booking and managing trade shows. However, as the buyer’s journey has shifted over the last decade, manufacturing has slowly recognized the need to invest in digital marketing.
The reality is that the buyer’s journey has changed. People research online before making a purchase--yes, even in manufacturing. Buyers are 57% of the way through their buying journey before they engage a sales person. This statistic does not mean sales is dead, especially not in manufacturing where the sales process often requires a hands on technical approach. What it does mean is that more of the sales process involves marketing than it ever has before.
The manufacturing companies who are tapped into their market and positioning themselves for strategic growth are realizing they also need to update their marketing processes to better meet their customers’ needs. In many cases, this can mean creating a marketing department for the first time or expanding the department to include a new person who is specifically focused on digital marketing.
The rise of the Marketing Specialist role
We’ve noticed that this new person is often a young women with a few years of experience in marketing. We’ve also noticed they don’t stay in the role, at least not without strategic support.
The Marketing Specialist is often tasked with tactics that are entirely new for the company, like managing social media. Given that the organization has never leveraged digital marketing before, there isn’t a clear process for managing social media, or defined outcomes or expectations set for measuring the success of the tactic.
Often, the Marketing Specialist reports directly to the CEO or to a Marketing Manager who has been working alone in the department for many years. In either of those leadership roles, her boss’ responsibilities are entirely strategic, so they will want to understand how the tactics she’s working on ladder up to their strategic goals.
She’s now has to bridge a number of gaps to have that conversation:
- Strategic: She’s working on tactics, but reporting to someone whose day-to-day tasks are entirely strategic
- Experiential: The CEO doesn’t have experience with the tactics she’s working on
- Generational: There’s likely an age gap between the two
- Gender: Often she’s one of only a few women in the company (based on industry studies)
- Language: As a result of the above combinations, they don't have the language to communicate with each other
The result is that she feels isolated, and like she is working in a vacuum. She spends her much of her time working on tactical aspects of marketing without anyone to check in with on it’s going. She doesn’t have an outlet for feedback, confirmation she’s on the right track, or someone to celebrate her successes and wins with .
It’s no wonder manufacturers are struggling to fill and retain talent in the marketing department.
Mentoring women in marketing in manufacturing to become strategic leaders
Not all women in the marketing role in manufacturing are throwing in the towel after a few months. If that was the case, we wouldn’t have felt the group was necessary. It is the trend for the ones who stay that
The Marketing Specialist who are able to demonstrate successes and communicate the value of marketing to the rest of the organization, excel in their role. We’ve seen them elevate the department and become the Chief Marketing Officer; positioning the department as strategic and generating revenue for the company, and elevating them to a C-suite level leadership role within the organization.
The women who do stay, who build the department from nothing, create their own processes: they are our inspiration. These resilient, strong, brilliant women who started as a Marketing Specialist and became the Chief Marketing Officer within a three year period, they are the reason we started WiMiM. They’ve forged the path for the rest of the Women in Marketing in Manufacturing.
Growing into a career in marketing in manufacturing shouldn’t be as difficult as it is for women today.
WiMiM provides peer support to address industry challenges
We created WiMiM to facilitate peer connections, provide a platform for solving common industry issues and feedback on current work. Our goal is to help women in this role position themselves and their department as strategic and communicate the value of marketing to the rest of the organization (*ahem* I’m looking at you Sales).
The WiMiM support group empowers Marketing Specialists in manufacturing with knowledge, process, and resources to set strategic marketing goals and work toward them each month. Plus, what’s not to love about sharing challenges over a shared bottle of wine with friends?
We’re keeping our group small, and a little exclusive, but the criteria is built right into the title: Women in Marketing in Manufacturing. If you know someone you feel would be a good fit, encourage them to apply to WiMiM.