In my recent travels through the southeast I was reminded of what a thankless job marketing communications can be. People I talked to were getting really fed-up with being the last to know launch information, tagged as being unresponsive, and unable to deliver results. Ouch – and remember, I have been there too – having lead a number of communications groups. There never seems to be enough resource or time to get done what we need to do. Of course no one talks about the lack of a business or marketing plan or even a clear strategy to help us get our job done. So what are marketing people to do?
It is time to fight back with a targeted attack plan composed of three key elements:
1) Clear objectives and goals – if your company can’t set them, we will show you how to do it yourself
2) Smart and easy integrated programs to achieve these goals
3) Measurable results to demonstrate what you’ve accomplished.
While there is not nearly enough time to go into all of the nuances in creating business and marketing goals, let me say this – without them marketing teams and their budgets are very exposed. It is very important to establish and validate the goals that you and your team will be measured by – is it leads, qualified leads, an increase in awareness, the number of people who have followed a specific call to action, the list goes on. Once these goals are proposed, it is amazing how it will help you prioritize opportunities and the work that you do. The higher your sign off the better, because you will quickly find if your goals align with your business goals.
One other important note from my experience is that regardless of what you have done in the past, it is important to connect what marketing is doing to help move the company against its sales goals. I’ve always tried to connect marketing initiatives with sales goals to clearly demonstrate how marketing helps both drive sales and reduce the sales cycle time. To accomplish this, I try to show how well marketing has performed on creating the qualified leads that sales needs to be successful. To make sure I have sales buy-in I continually ask what makes a sales lead hot, warm or cold – because if I am creating hot leads for sales then I am helping the sales process and speeding prospects through the sales process.
Smart and easy integrated programs sound too good to be true. In reality they are readily available – if you know where to go looking for them. Research report after research report talk about the power of integrated marketing programs to drive a prospective customer through the sales process. As part of a comprehensive research study, DN has once again re-confirmed this belief. Our research has shown that print solutions perform better than any other media at the top of the sales process – when building brand awareness is essential. As customers become more involved in the specific choices available in the market, they tend to drill into solutions using online media. Finally the sales rep exerts the most influence at the end of the sales process when a sale close is being pursued. When developing or shopping for initiatives that will help you achieve your objectives, make sure that you not only find a solution that integrates these pieces, but look for a company that can map the interconnections between these solutions and ensure a specific response – preferably the one that you committed to in step one.
Use measurements to demonstrate performance. Unfortunately, so many companies have left the review of marketing performance to subjective measures that it is no wonder most marketing teams are pushed to always deliver more. This type of subjective reviews of marketing programs must stop if companies are to truly understand the power of marketing and the resources required to accomplish specific goals. If expectations and results are left open-ended, marketing teams will never get the recognition, reward and resources they need to further help the company or themselves. Key performance metrics will liberate these teams and ensure everyone is focused on the correct priorities.
There is no time like the present to make sure that marketing as a whole – and you and your team specifically - are getting the recognition and reward you deserve. The prescription for success is simple – set goals, execute programs that focus on these goals, and then measure and report results. If you have not been following this simple formula, or need help to implement it at your location, please give Design News a call for help. If you have been following the guidelines – great for you – and I hope that the unique Design News program performance reports go a long way to make measurement and reporting fast and easy for you. So the next time your boss says what has marketing done lately or a sales guy tells you a customer told her that he hates the new ad, you can use hard metrics that show them the precise power and value of your marketing solutions and their ability to drive results.