What's the Leader's Role in Marketing Success?
Leadership and Marketing Success
In our experience working with newly minted entrepreneurs to seasoned pros, the success of marketing strategy starts with company leaders. Good leaders recognize the linkage of marketing to business goals and its function in fueling business growth. The best leaders champion the planning process, seeking clarity, continuity and accountability.
This is why we consider leadership in the B2B marketing mix, even though it isn't your typical category reported in marketing budget allocation surveys or studies that measure marketing ROI. Leaders are pivotal in setting the stage for marketing’s success. Marketing is telling the company's story, and leaders are the chief storytellers. When the story's out of synch with customer value, you lose traction and water down your brand. It's visible in disjointed messaging and opportunistic vs. strategic growth.
Here are four behaviors that impede marketing success:
- Marketing relegated to the marketing department: Marketing and innovation are the key activities of the organization, and are visible in every function of the business that touches the customer.
- Don't set or don't spend a marketing budget: in good economic times and bad, we often find marketing activities identified in the plan but not performed. It's an "easy" place to reduce costs because companies often lack the ability to measure ROI.
- Create a business plan or marketing plan that sits on the shelf (or don’t create one at all): The promise of a plan is only realized when it’s executed. Well-intentioned leaders who hire pros to create the plan often wind up with a gold-plated strategy that is measured in page length but lacks the specifics of what to do and when.
- Not sure where leads come from (and/or how they became customers): When times are good, leaders may not fully appreciate what’s working and what’s not. Being able to pinpoint activities that generate the best qualified sales leads is vital to long term success.
The business implications of not having a marketing plan at all or one that isn't aligned with business goals minimizes the effectiveness and ROI, increases the chance you're missing opportunities, and creates fragmentation of your message and brand.
This is particularly true for B2B companies with the changes in how your target customers become aware of you, learn about your solutions, and take action. With the newer and emerging marketing channels such as social media and mobile, you need to be "present" in more places to attract and engage target customers.
Marketing for Business Growth
Marketing success hinges on the ability of leaders to create alignment between marketing activities and business goals. A good marketing plan details what the business will do to achieve profitable growth.
Here are six tips for leaders to craft a marketing strategy that supports business goals:
- Write a 1-page business plan: Focus on 1 to 3 years. Don't get bogged down in data. Articulate the top 3 business goals (and no more).
- Survey and interview customers: Why did they buy from you initially and subsequently? How do they think of you? What's their preferred way to engage with you?
- Look to your team for input: Invite input from staff on best ways to achieve a business goal. Provide feedback on why or why not an idea was accepted.
- Don't be afraid to say "NO": Name the events and activities you won't do. For example, "We've always done that trade show" is not an adequate reason for making the investment.
- Create a marketing roadmap: Visually lay out the years significant events (e.g., trade show, product launch, customer event...). Define goals for each event and how you'll measure success. Identify the supporting marketing activities that will boost event success and assign an owner.
- Execute the plan: Commit to seeing the plan through. If an activity isn't working, change the approach before choosing to stop the activity all together.
The right mix of marketing activities that achieve business goals is a balancing act that considers your budget, your buyers, and your in-house team's capabilities. For many of our customers, they seek our expertise and guidance to create and execute an effective marketing plan.
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