Top 4 Things to Do in Q4 to Set Yourself Up for Marketing Success in 2018

marketing success

Featuring Dina Baird, Sales Director, True Influence

With 2018 around the corner, planning for the new year can take on many forms. In my experience, talks start with budget and goals, and how you are going to get there is usually a secondary conversation after the numbers are set.

Experience teaches that if you expect to get to tomorrow’s numbers using today’s tactic’s, you are likely going to fall short. Why? Because today’s tactics got you today’s numbers.

Marketers have the tough job of coming in after the numbers are set and figuring out how to help support sales to get there. Buying more programs with the same demand gen partners is an easy way to assume you can get there, but if your ROI was there to begin with, why didn’t you spend a little more with your current partners to blow out your sales numbers? The answer — because your current tactics aren’t working well enough.

Based on years as a marketing director and watching technology and other industries try to figure out how to meet their revenue targets for the new year, here are the top four things I’ve learned about setting yourself up for success in the new year.

1. You don’t know what you don’t know. What you knew at the beginning of this year, has already changed, and you need to re-educate yourself. There are now over 5,000 companies in the marketing stack and a new category in newly defined stages of the Demand Waterfall. You’d have to live under a rock to not have heard about intent data by now. But the products and companies in the intent data world are always evolving, and each company does intent a little different. You have to educate yourself on these differences to onboard tools that are going to work. Sirius Decisions indicates there are four main things to consider when evaluating intent data, including partnership, data, integration, and pricing. I would add to that whether or not contacts or leads are included.

A recent client of mine onboarded an intent data solution this year only to learn later, that he really wants the contacts associated with the data, something his current provider can’t give him. Now he’s locked into a contract and a product that isn’t filling his needs.

You have to spend time taking sales calls and educating yourself on the market. I know as a marketer, it was tough to take the time to sit through sales calls and demos for products I wasn’t sure I was going to have a budget for. But I learned that if I really educated myself, and eventually found a product would help us achieve our goals, the budget for a product or initiative would somehow turn-up.

2. Don’t leave the decision to management on what tools are needed in the organization. Get input from employees in the trenches.

Getting input from employees does more than boost morale and create buy-in. It provides valuable input to assure that the tools and direction you are taking will meet your needs. Details uncovered from direct employee input can lead to a better and more efficient integration process, and decrease the learning curve after a new implementation is in place.

When I was a marketing director, the technology division of the company was testing and onboarding a CRM tool for the entire company. During the onboarding process, we ran into so many issues with the integration, that the CFO canceled the project. The time, expense and back and forth from the old CRM tool to the new one was costly. Why did this happen? The people involved with deciding on the CRM tool didn’t get enough input from the people that were in the trenches to execute and use the tool. Many things were overlooked. Having our group pilot the program saved a ton of time and money in the long run, but having the proper input from the beginning could have probably saved all of the hassles we went through.

What do your salespeople think of the leads they are getting? What would help them with their prospecting efforts? What do your copywriters think are missing from the content you are writing? The added bonus: when you involve employees in decisions about their jobs and workplace, you help motivate them. So, this type of input has a double benefit, better decision making, and more motivated employees.

3. In the age of the customer, listen more and promote less. The idea that we are in the age of the customer has been around for a couple of years now, and in my opinion, we still do not do a good job of really listening and paying attention to customer needs. Do you know what they like about your product? Do you know what they wish they could have? When they cancel or leave the competitor, why do they go? What information do they need that would help them do their job better? For an even better view of where to go and what direction to take, what do our potential customers want that is different from what our current customers have and want?

Personalization in the “duh” in marketing, but don’t get lost in the hype of why personalization works. Personalization works because you are paying attention and addressing the needs of the individual. Don’t go through the motions of personalization without the listening part. There are tools that can help you do this from simple research surveys to social media e-listening tools and intent monitoring, to old fashion advisory councils and focus groups. Now, take what you learn and use it to refresh your vision and your approach to your goals in 2018.

4. Before 2018 ends, take a risk and start that project you’ve been putting off. Start that one thing that you know you should be doing or have wanted to try. Marketers, in particular, have to do a million different things and the role of the job is so different and so encompassing, that Harvard Business Review couldn’t find more than a couple of common job requirements among 170 job descriptions and 500 linked in profiles. So no doubt, as a CMO, you have a lot going on and too much on your plate. Regardless of your role in your current job, there are likely things you aren’t doing that you know you should be or at least want to be. It’s what keeps you up and night. There are still a good fifty days left in Q4 to start and perhaps complete a long over-due project. Fight for it. Do it. Find a way and start by taking 75 minutes in the next couple of days and get started. Once you get that one thing started, you will have created momentum and will be well on your way to achieving your goals in 2018.

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