What questions should every executive team ask of its Marketing?
A recent executive team discovery session revealed a really important insight. The corporation’s President shared that he sees lots of activity, but can’t pinpoint how those activities directly impact the business. In other words, he was asking how Marketing activity translates into Sales. His mandate is to meet a quarterly Sales target. How does Marketing ensure he gets to that target? This particular executive happens to be someone who gets the value of Marketing so the question was not whether Marketing has a role to play in hitting his number, but rather how Marketing could be optimized. This is a distinction that sometimes lost on Marketing.
How would you reimagine Marketing to reach its high impact potential?
Here are some of the points I came up with to answer that question:
- Agile marketing — Adopting an agile approach often can pivot marketing away from static traditional ways of working. For example, instead of Marketing being focused purely on brand, it can be more experimental, trying new campaigns strategies and formats, then adapting them based on metrics. This helps get Marketing away from focusing on “quantity” and more on results that contribute to key goals. The objective here is to be more adaptive, operating on a real-time basis vs. off a defined strategic and tactical plan set up two years ago.
- Metrics-based — As noted above, having a strong metrics mindset, can help Marketing demonstrate what impact it is having. Those metrics can then recalibrate Marketing to focus on only those activities that produce targeted results. Furthermore, metrics give Marketing a common language to speak with the Sales organization.
- Business enabling — Marketing has long been about Sales-enablement. But that term can be squishy with simply Sales deck preparation seen as a Sales enablement contribution. Marketing needs to be more of a business enabler. That assumes it knows what 3-5 priorities the business has. Yet, simply knowing those priorities isn’t particularly useful. Rather marketing must zero in, and regularly report out on, its activities to directly contribute to those priorities.
- Customer obsession — The starting point for any Marketing goal should be the customer. Though easier said than done, that statement relies on an assumption that Marketing knows who the customer is. For siloed Marketing organizations, there could be multiple iterations of that answer. Sales for example might be targeting a completely version of the target persona. Aligning on a customer target is crucial. Furthermore, being able to adapt that target, to the business’ goals for new markets, and changing customer personas, is imperative. In other words, Marketing needs to have a business focused, market inclusive, research founded customer definition that pulls through the organization.
So where does all this leave the executive striving to streamline his organization, and get a strong Marketing ROI? Engage Marketing (and Sales) in a deeper conversation. By asking certain key questions, you can better understand the “as-is” approach, and isolate vital insights for optimizing Sales and Marketing overall. Below are some questions you can consider asking.
Five key questions to ask Marketing:
- What 3-5 business impact goals is Marketing targeting?
- What approach is Marketing utilizing to address the above?
- What metrics is Marketing using to measure impact to the business?
- How does Marketing use metrics to determine in which strategies and tactics to invest?
- How does Marketing know what the customer or market needs?
Fielding those questions with your Marketing organization can unearth insights that drive greater success.