As we finish out 2015, it is a great time to take stock of both your ability as well as the abilities of those within the marketing department, specifically in regards to their skills, interests, and effectiveness.
In marketing, nearly everything boils down to five places where you should excel:
- Planning initiatives
- Designing great campaigns
- Flawless execution
- Analyzing the results
- Deciding how to adjust and improve for the future
Let’s look a little closer at each one of these important functions.
1. Laying a firm foundation with solid planning initiatives
We all know that great marketing doesn’t happen at the snap of your fingers. It takes time and insight to understand where you are and where you’d like to go. Planning is where you take stock of the current state of your customers, prospects, products, and more. You establish goals, milestones, and targets for everyone to rally around. In this phase, you should also determine how much budget and resources you want to assign to different projects and campaigns. To help you stay focused on the customer – instead of just on your products or services for sale – develop or review your buyer personas.
Remember, everything will cascade off of your plans, so make sure you have the correct assumptions and double check that you have been thoroughly using all of the market research at your disposal. Hopefully your targets are meaningful to everyone on the team and not arbitrary or completely out of reach before you even begin.
2. Marrying creativity with digital marketing
This is where you and your digital agency (if you have one) should get creative with all of the information from your planning stage. Today great campaigns are much more than just a simple drip nurture or series of e-blasts. If you are still relying solely on these types of tactics, then you really need to step up your sophistication.
You need to design multichannel, customer journey-centric campaigns with interactive content, data collecting assessments, video, mobile apps, new website pages or microsites, location targeting, and SMS and mobile push should all become part of your campaign design arsenal. If you found in your planning phase that you lack key insight about your customers and/or prospects, incorporate simple questions into your campaign so you can build your database as you go. Make sure you preview your campaign plans with both the sales organization and your call center so that they can provide valuable input, acting as an additional team member.
3. Flawless execution; all hands on deck
Once you are ready to launch your campaign, it is everybody’s responsibility to ensure you are executing as perfectly as you can. You need to send your outbound messages on schedule, make sure your website can handle the traffic, have call center reps trained on proper call handling, and have sales act as helpful facilitators.
Keep in mind that executing flawlessly does not mean you should be so cautious that you take lots of extra time. I see too many marketers move at a snail’s pace because they are so terrified of making a mistake. Remember that “done” is better than “perfect” – you are better off getting out in the market to establish first preference over your competitors. If you do make mistakes, ensure that you can get the feedback and quickly work to correct any errors.
4. Reviewing all aspects of campaigns and analyzing results
Over the weeks, months, and even longer periods of time, you will need to assign the resources to analyze your results, so you can adjust and improve mid-campaign or for your next major effort. Of course, good old-fashioned reporting is a great start for everyone. But this is the time to kick things up a notch by doing more sophisticated analytics into the root causes of success or the lack thereof. Perhaps you even take a sample of customers and non-purchasers and interview them about their perceptions of your campaign.
Finally you can explore newer tools such as predictive analytics to spot trends before they actually happen. Having a robust analytics capability will only make for stronger campaigns and an improved marketing department.
5. Digging deeply for next time
Toward the latter half of the campaign, begin to ask yourself, “If I had to do this whole project over again, what would I change?” Allowing everyone in the marketing department to periodically ask and answer that question is the key to continuous improvement.
Hopefully you have a culture that allows everyone to have an open, honest, and constructive dialog about what you need for the next iterations. Make sure that all of the performance data is readily available to all for close inspection. Also, be sure that all voices are heard – not just the more vocal extroverts. Collect all ideas and encourage everyone to share.
All too often, if things don’t go according to plan or don’t exceed the goals, everyone is quick to bury the evidence and move on to the next project. However, taking time at in this final stage should help you both build a better campaign next time and build a better marketing department. Is everyone in a role that they enjoy? Are they able to contribute to maximum effectiveness? By asking all of these questions and more, you should be well on your way to future success.