Marketing Game Changers for 2013

It’s the season for wrapping up the old year and prepping for the next. I hope you are as excited about the potential of the coming year as I am, particularly as it pertains to how you can transform your marketing organization. Here are six ideas to get you started:

1.  Understand your sales lead requirements. This one is crucial, because if you don’t understand how many sales leads you need, you can’t properly support the sales organization and your company’s revenue objectives.  If you want to learn how to do this, read our article, How Many Sales Leads Do You Need.

2.  Tune or replace your sales model. There is no better time than right now to give your sales model careful scrutiny, especially if your results are faltering or you have a gnawing feeling that you are doing things out of habit instead of based on how effective the activity actually is. Even if you are relatively satisfied with your go-to-market model, there are probably ways that you can tweak it for better results. The objective of the sales model is to produce the maximum amount of new customers and revenue at the lowest cost. If you are in direct sales mode, perhaps you should consider incorporating a channel program. Likewise, channel-focused companies can sometimes benefit from adding a direct sales component. Also ask whether telephone sales can replace in-person, or the web can replace either method. If possible, test the new model on a small scale before rolling it out to the entire organization.

3.  Craft a service level agreement (SLA) between sales and marketing.  A SLA is a written (yes, written) specification of the relationship between marketing and sales, and what each group is expected contribute to the overall revenue objectives. At a minimum, your SLA will include these details:

  • Number of sales leads required and when
  • What constitutes a sales-ready lead
  • How leads are distributed to the field
  • How sales reps disposition leads
  • How marketing’s contribution is measured through a closed-loop system

4.  Transform your marketing initiatives into a “marketing machine.”  Almost every company does marketing. But relatively few do it on a consistent, relentless and reliable basis. We call this the “coin operated approach.” You put some marketing time and money in at one end of the process and you get a predictable amount of revenue at the other end. When you can do this, you are seen by the CEO, CFO and CSO as an investment, not an expense. This, my friend, is a very good thing for your company and your own job security.

5.  Join the Pull Marketing revolution. I’ve been talking about this for some time now for one primary reason: pull marketing works. It’s not a miracle cure for what ails you, and it takes time and a great deal of sweat equity. But if you start today, you will begin reaping benefits by the end of 2013. To read more about this important subject, read the blog post How to Accelerate Your Success with Pull Marketing.

6.  Resolve to be BOLD.  It’s a new year so why not make it a great year, instead of just another business-as-usual period of slight incremental progress?  If you set BHAG (Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals) and you don’t quite reach them, you will usually find yourself farther ahead than if you never reached high in the first place. Here are a couple of BHAG ideas:

  • Differentiate your company with a compelling and differentiated value proposition.
  • Double your website traffic.
  • Increase your inbound sales leads by 80%.
  • Align your marketing and sales organizations and processes for maximum effectiveness.
  • Shorten your sales cycles by 25%.

Any one of these six ideas can be a game changer for you and your organization.  Implement a couple of the strategies and you will start creating an unstoppable marketing machine.

Happy New Year!


Marketing Life Lessons

There are some lessons learned in life that apply strongly to marketing (and vice versa).  Here are five for your consideration.

Lesson 1:  What you don’t know can hurt you. As a marketer, you need to have better and more current information about marketing than your CEO and sales VP.  And if you are a marketing services provider, you had better know more than your client, at least about the subject in which you specialize. Shallow expertise will make you appear weak and un-confident and this will be exploited by your colleagues and/or clients. There is much good information about B2C and B2B marketing readily available and the more you absorb, the better you will get at discerning the wheat from the chaff.  And the combination of education plus practical experience will make you an unstoppable marketer.

Lesson 2: Action is almost always better than inaction. Sometimes it is hard to decide what to do and sometimes research is needed. But more often than not, there are things you can do to keep the awareness growing and the leads coming in. By all means fine-tune and optimize your marketing programs but don’t be frozen into a state of inaction.  In marketing, there is seldom a neutral state – you are either stagnating or moving forward. A good marketer keeps moving forward.

Lesson 3: Consistency is more important than brilliance. Most of the time, it is not one brilliant marketing strategy or program that wins the day, but rather a series of smaller steps taken in a consistent fashion. One great way to do this is to make sure that you have a differentiated and compelling message and communicate it relentlessly through multiple media. During the bubble, small start-up companies were using their entire yearly marketing budget to run million dollar Super Bowl. A large number of those companies went out of business. “Hail Mary” passes may occasionally work in football, but seldom in marketing.

Lesson 4: A fool with a plan can beat a genius with no plan.  I heard this comment from a speech by T. Boone Pickens and it resonates well for today’s marketer because there is no such thing as a perfect marketing plan.  As a smart general named Helmut Von Moltke said, “No battle plan survives contact with the enemy.”  Likewise, it is seldom that a marketing plan turns out exactly as expected, but you still need to produce one and update it often.

Lesson 5: You learn more from your mistakes than successes. As a marketer, you will make mistakes. These may be minor or they may cost your company a great deal of money (I have made a couple of these during my career).  But regardless of the scope of a particular mistake, it can either seriously set you back or it can be a catalyst to growth and success. The objective is not to stop making mistakes, because the only way to do this is to stop doing anything. Rather, the objective is to learn from your mistakes and not make the same ones again.  This is exactly the reason you hire an experienced person (or outsource provider) to strategize and execute your marketing programs – it reduces your risk and makes the likelihood of success far greater.