If you have done your due diligence as a marketing planner, you’ve no doubt uncovered a lot of minutiae-level work that must be done to effectively deliver. Whether it be resources to: conduct research; consolidate and chart data; actively manage a blog or other content; investigate a new idea; customize the CRM; version content across different audiences, personas or delivery channels; draft process flows or procedures; or support the sales force in getting people to an event. Bottom line — the devil is in the details and once a plan begins to take shape, you may realize you need more resources than you anticipated.
Sometimes it’s just a matter of thinking proactively about the reality of the workload and outside the box about who could actually help. For example:
- Many admins or young workers are highly skilled in Excel and other tools/programs and can lend a hand to help: aggregate, mine and organize data; create charts or slide presentations for company meetings and webinars; aggregate and organize social media or CRM data; conduct keyword and online competitive research; or help the sales team get ready for a trade show.
- Interns or temps could be brought in to: create reports and dashboards, customize the CRM; draft the company’s policies and content calendar for blog posts and social media; research and organize data for a white paper or blog post; or develop a detailed project plan to help the team stay organized.
- Maybe someone in another department wants exposure to the world of marketing and has the skills for some of the critical tasks. Maybe employees in other functional areas can offer subject matter expertise to help: develop content; manage blog comments or replies in online forums; or research relevant articles to tweet and post. And remember, what many don’t know they can learn or figure out; it’s just a matter of putting the task in front of them.
The point is—think through the work that must be done and make sure you assess and address how it will actually go down. This type of leadership can help ensure completion of critical deliverables, and possibly open up opportunities for other employees whose talents align with various tasks.
Are you tasked with developing a launch plan, implementing social media for the first time, or delivering a fully integrated marketing plan to drive leads? If so, consider asking yourself these questions before developing tactics. These are just some of the high-level areas you may want to think through, to help make sure your marketing communications plans are smart and set up for success.
- Do you have a solid understanding of the business vision and financial goals? If not, I suggest you get it before doing anything else.
- Do you have a point-of-view about how marketing can help meet those goals? If not, what do you need to do to develop it? A POV is critical before moving into tactics. Understand the market opportunity, the sales process, the brand promise/value proposition (or gaps within it), client/prospect insights, the competitive landscape, etc.; and spend time filling in key gaps in your understanding before getting too far.
- Do you have a POV about what levers within the marketing mix will have the strongest impact? Do you have the necessary budget and resources to effectively pull those levers? If not, consider making the business case to get what you need and if that’s not possible, encourage discussion about your barriers up front; to help make sure the marketing team prioritizes effectively.
- Do you have a framework that articulates the marketing communications strategy in a way that allows key stakeholders to weigh in and contribute ideas? Are select stakeholders aware of the dependencies and measurement goals that may need their active participation? Make sure key people and areas are aligned with you and ready to do their part – because if they’re not, it will likely have an adverse effect on your results (as well as internal relationships, and the respect and morale of your staff).
- Do you have an Insights & Messaging and/or Brand Toolkit that everyone can work from when crafting communications? Whether it be web content, headlines for ads, narratives for blogs, emails, promotions for new products, webinars, videos, etc.? It can even be rough and ever-evolving — but some type of brand and messaging strategy is critical to make sure your communications are relevant and engaging.
- Do you have an ROI strategy across all tactics intended to support the plan? Have you figured out how all those metrics will come together to decide whether the plan is delivering? If not, get ahead of that and encourage dialogue early so that everyone is on the same page about how well the plan is set up to measure. And how best to address key gaps or potential risks.
- Have you assessed where various components of the plan need to integrate to be effective? E.g. is there a messaging framework that needs to be implemented simultaneously across the web, sales collateral, videos, press releases, etc.? Are the dots connected to support and activate the social media part of the strategy? Understanding this could help you consider the necessary resources and execute in a more timely manner.
- Have you thought about various third parties that are a dependency for certain tactics? The sooner you can research and engage vendors necessary for implementation–such as for web analytics, research, lead management, etc., more than likely, the better. This often takes longer and is more complicated than you think.
- Have you determined who in your organization needs to be trained, educated, etc. about what marketing is doing? Will there be implications to others that need to be addressed early on; will sales procedures be needed; will database resources need to be secured? Thinking about this ahead of time will help you gain respect, as it ensures everyone is comfortable with what’s going on and is part of the process.
- Have you established milestones to assess how the plan is doing? Do you have resources to pull together what is necessary to do this? Think ahead about how you will respond to a demand from Senior Management to “show me how our marketing communications efforts are driving business and/or at a minimum supporting the process.” You’ll likely be considered a leader if you show you are proactively thinking this way.
Posted in Marketing, Marketing Planning, Marketing Strategy
Tagged Content strategy, Marketing basics, Marketing checklist, Marketing excellence, Marketing framework, Marketing measurement, Marketing mix, Marketing objectives, Marketing plan
Let’s be honest — if one cannot execute their marketing plan and fabulous ideas, one does not get results. The process for delivering exceptional marketing is fairly straightforward, but to complete work that drives actual outcomes, the devil is in the details. Clearly one cannot expect a plan to operate on its own — it requires an intelligent and motivated staff, and a lot of TLC.
For context, consider the process to develop a plan…
- First, an umbrella framework that defines the role of your marketing and the strategy for which levers to pull, which problems to solve and where to allocate budget.
- Then a more detailed framework that shapes the role of individual delivery channels—for example, maybe revenue is driven online and depends entirely on online marketing/infrastructure; maybe marketing adds value by supporting the sales team and driving brand awareness/thought leadership; maybe events have the most potential to drive new leads; or maybe marketing can best support by keeping leads warm and engaged through the sales process.
The work then begins to design tactics and measurements, and determine how they will tie together (this is where online marketing often adds the most value). At this stage, the devil is in the details, so consider whether there is …
- A strong staff in place, with the right skill sets
- Budget and resources that address key dependencies and critical barriers
- Sufficient time for the team to think, brainstorm and iterate
- Superb project management of the plan (and of details that take more time than one thinks)
- Internal alignment, as well as tools and training
- Someone focused on testing and analytics, to make sure progress and results are being measured real-time (or at least regularly)
- Someone assessing progress and facts to determine whether the ideas are working, and recalibrating tactics and/or messaging accordingly
The point is – developing the strategy is important, but excellence in execution is often the biggest challenge and opportunity for meeting the metric goal. You will likely be rewarded with higher and faster ROI if you devote a large part of the budget to execution (and proactively attack that pesky devil that lies in the details).
For many businesses it is necessary to bring prospects or clients through a sales cycle to get revenue in the door. Sometimes the cycle is short, sometimes it’s long; sometimes there is a fully staffed BD team to work leads; sometimes there is a call center or even a single person responsible for managing all lead activity; and sometimes there is no live interaction at all.
Regardless, if multiple touch points are required to move someone towards a revenue-producing action; it is probably a good idea to consider lead nurturing programs as part of the strategic planning process. As well as decide how Marketing and Sales departments can 1) form an integrated strategy and 2) be equally accountable for the program’s success.
Consider the potential benefits:
- Improved efficiency for the sales team by allowing them to focus on the warmest opportunities
- Potentially faster movement of the warmest leads
- Potentially higher retention or SOW among existing clients
- Improved marketing ROI
Consider what it would take:
- Alignment and shared accountability between Marketing and Sales (particularly in B2B)… for the plan and its dependencies.
- Understanding the average sales cycle and workflow of a lead, and the rules/requirements to keep leads warm and moving through the funnel; as well as a vision for the ideal lead experience.
- How many touch points does it take; what type of touch is needed (referrals/ testimonials, more product information, more face/phone time with Sales or Customer Service, drip emails, online engagement opportunities)?
- Requirements for Marketing vs. Sales’ role in delivering touch points, and the role of automation and online marketing to support interaction and engagement with the sales team/person.
- Is it better for Marketing to develop the communications and infrastructure for delivery, and allow Sales to execute?
- Is it better for Marketing to drive until a scoring trigger deems a lead worthy of hand off to Sales?
- Requirements for marketing automation, resources and costs.
- Can you support data flow of online leads to the CRM; does the CRM contain an indicator to decide when Sales vs. Marketing is owning communication with the lead; can your systems capture a record of all touch points, scoring metrics and funnel movement?
- How much will it cost to develop the necessary infrastructure? What resources are required?
- A content development and delivery strategy aligned tothe sales funnel and the changing mindset or interest of the lead.
- This is where lead scoring infrastructure can be beneficial, as well as targeted online communications and tools that directly support a sales person’s outreach; and ability to continue giving the lead a reason to care about the company’s value proposition.
The point is – the evolution in online “engagement marketing” and the plethora of marketing automation solutions now available in the marketplace, make it easier than ever for Marketing and Sales to build integrated plans that drive revenue goals. So if your business has a complicated or long sales cycle, strongly consider the opportunity for integrated lead nurturing programs and the required infrastructure to support them.