How marketers combat the highest paid person’s opinion
by Alex Eade, Marketing Manager, Footprint Digital

Alex reveals the best weapon marketers can use to combat the highest paid person’s opinion.

8th April 2022 Read time: 5 minutes Watch time: 45 minutes

Being a Digital Marketing Manager is challenging. Budgets are tight, management is demanding, technology is changing fast, and there’s too much for one person to do. The job is made more difficult when marketing decisions are made by the highest paid person’s opinion (HiPPO), not data. By their gut feel, not what your customers are telling you. So, how can marketers combat the highest paid person’s opinion?

Alex Eade is the Marketing Manager at Footprint Digital and editor of the book ‘Shoot the HiPPO: How to be a killer digital marketing manager’, authored by founders of Footprint Digital, Tom Bowden and Tom Jepson.

Alex joined the What’s Possible Community to detail what marketing departments can do to arm themselves with robust data and ensure they become killer digital marketing managers.

The HiPPO’s effect on marketing decisions

Alex argues that time and budget constraints and opinion-based pressures from the higher-ups can negatively impact marketing departments.

We all have the inclination to make opinion-based, gut-feel based decisions. In marketing, when time constraints are incredibly tight, you sometimes do just make knee-jerk decisions,” Alex said.

She believes that opinions are never as good as facts; data-led decisions are preferable. Sometimes the HiPPO overrides this ability to make an excellent data-led decision because they feel things should be done a certain way.

Alex warns the consequences can be dire. The data and the facts of a marketing department might be ignored, resulting in more groupthink and apathy in making the right marketing decisions. 

It’s going to undermine people’s ability to make decisions properly. And I think that then stifles creativity and stops people speaking out or sharing ideas, and it’s creativity that we really need in marketing,” she warns.

How to arm yourself with data

So, how do marketers gather the data they require to evidence which path a marketing department should be taking?

Alex says it is best to perform a thorough digital marketing audit on your current marketing activities to determine where your customers are engaging with your business. Alex breaks it down into a few steps:

  • Collect relevant data.
  • Benchmark your data and ensure you are tracking the correct data.
  • Analyse what your competitors are doing
  • Figure out how higher-ups want data presented to them.
  • Bring them around to your way of thinking

This audit will help you determine where you need to invest in the budget. It will identify the holes in your strategy and what you need to do to improve your performance. It will also show you where your strengths and weaknesses lie. Notably, you will be considering what your consumer is telling you.

Alex also stresses the importance of humanising the data and packaging it well to help make it persuasive to those in authority.

Redefining and upskilling the digital marketing manager

The other hurdle to success in the digital marketing manager role; there is too much for one person to do. The marketing industry seems to lack clarity on what a digital marketing manager should be doing.

Footprint Digital did a deep dive of 100 digital marketing manager job adverts on LinkedIn and found that not one listing was the same. Each company had a different idea of what the digital marketing manager does.

They often expect candidates to have competencies and skills difficult to find in one person. Some adverts were asking marketers to be great strategists, to be tactical, and to be creative. Some ask for in-depth technical and coding knowledge and be fantastic in front of clients,” Alex said.

In a quest to bring some order and standardisation to the digital marketing manager role, Footprint Digital have put together a Shoot the HiPPO course. The course takes away the noise around digital and help marketers join the dots across this complex and varied discipline.

Footprint Digital believes that upskilling yourself and understanding the industry’s wide range of digital marketing activities is essential. They reaffirm that it will equip marketers with the skills to gather the right data they can use to deal with the HiPPO and, in turn, strengthen their marketing departments.

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