Marketing Strategy

A recent study by the industry analyst firm Aberdeen Group found that as much as 80 percent of marketing expenditures on lead generation and sales collateral were wasted. About a year ago, we surveyed 235 companies about their B2B marketing programs. We uncovered the following:

  • Internal disagreement about the role of marketing
  • Overly complicated marketing objectives
  • Marketing objectives not clearly defined and difficult or impossible to measure results
  • Little-to-no accountability for results

From this study, and a number of successful pilot projects, we developed a simple marketing methodology that addresses these issues. It is not rocket science. We apply basic project management practices to the marketing plan to solve the problem.

Get With the (Marketing) Plan!
Marketing projects fail when they are poorly defined, overly complex, lack measurement and accountability and take too long to execute. Optimize these five factors (definition, simplicity, accountability, friction and speed) and you can't help but improve results and end up with a marketing strategy that is aligned with your business objectives.

These five steps allow us to successfully build your strategic marketing plan and make it easy for you to understand what the tactics are doing to serve your strategic objectives.

Five Drivers of Marketing Success

1. Define the Objectives
Many problems start with a poorly-defined plan. The marketing plan should include program requirements and potential limitations. These requirements are often referred to by project management experts as the project charter.

After the plan is drafted, it should be reviewed and discussed by representatives from all departments that will be impacted by its execution in order to gain agreement and support. Only after you gather feedback should the plan be finalized.

2. Keep it Really Simple
Simplicity is related to "definition." Simple means ease of measurement and clearly crafted objectives. Only when there is agreement on the program direction from the outset, can sales and marketing achieve a happy medium between innovative marketing and realistic sales goals.

3. Measurement/Accountability
Most marketers can't tell which portion of their marketing budget contributes to sales. Ask these questions to bring clarity to the way your organization measures results and holds the marketing program accountable:

  • How will the program be measured?
  • Will you measure hard results like the number of leads generated?
  • Or soft results like the ability of a program to build market presence or penetrate a specific market?
  • If you are measuring soft results, try to gain consensus on how the activities will be measured.

Some marketers frame success by winning accounts from the competition, increasing purchase volume within existing accounts and by preventing competitors from poaching your accounts.

A simple objective that frames the entire marketing project portfolio (for example, all projects should increase website traffic or improve conversion of leads to sales) makes it easier to measure success. If program tactics are not working, how will the program be adapted? Is a strategy shift needed, or are different tactics needed? Link project success directly to the project owner's compensation.

4. Streamline and Remove the Friction
Integrate your marketing into the sales process. Marketing and sales should be part of a seamless and integrated process.

Optimize your internal sales management, administrative and contracting procedures to minimize delay and customer thinking. This is especially important if your sales are complex (if they involve "complex" products and services affecting multiple departments, longer sales cycles, multiple decision-makers and/or senior management approval).

5. Speed and Agility
When you start with tightly defined projects that are framed with expected results, start/finish dates and clear ROI goals, you are able to make decisions more quickly and effectively.

It is not easy to implement these guidelines, because they require strong communication skills. These guidelines will require you to continually educate other departments that may perceive your organization's marketing goals as a non-priority. But, these guidelines will help you prioritize which is more important to your organization: maintaining internal comfort zones or achieving top-line revenue growth.

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