Marketing is riding a roller coaster loop through the sales execution value chain. Remember the old days on your ride, when your team was satisfied with impressions or preference surveys as indicators of performance? Those days are gone and we are no doubt living in the era of spam, where every channel of interaction is a marketing channel, where every piece of content or type of contact may be judged guilty of spam until proven useful, and everything is measured.
As marketers, your ride likely has new twists and turns to help you break through overload challenges. Does your ride have a very complicated set of performance measures? Do you have ownership for all the big data discussions out there related to your brand or industry? Do you have sales quota or report to sales?
My Hitachi Data Systems colleague Bennesa Lyon is a prime example of a marketer poised to survive in this era. In addition to having all the traditional knowledge of a marketing leader, she is a data scientist and can talk pivot tables, data de-duplication, metadata, and she knows the value of Pi. She thinks about sales and revenue and the top and bottom line. I talked to Bennesa recently to draw out some best practices in getting response from prospects, customers and fans in the era of spam.
Move marketing earlier in the value chain
The marketing team has developed an earlier understanding of targets in a much deeper way than previously required. Bennesa believes savvy digital buyers have gathered 40% to 50% of their potential solution information before they ever agree to speak to a sales representative. So the marketing team reaches these prospects with very relevant information in an iterative fashion—moving the prospect and digital dialogue along very much like a concierge.
Highest levels of commitment to relevance
To get the attention of already busy—and spammed—targets, you have to stand out. Busy and spammed buyers have no appetite for more noise. Getting noticed hinges on relevance. The marketing team uses customer intelligence to assess where the targets are in their buying process, their business needs, and their buying motivation—and then the team becomes of service to these targets by offering relevant information to help them with gathering information, considering options, and eventually making a decision.
Stretching exercises to keep nimble
These next 12 to18 months will stretch the traditional marketing organizations. Marketing skill sets, processes, accountability and technologies must be stretched to morph to the new era of marketing.
The marketing team has shifted thinking from tactical- and execution-centric performance metrics to more business-impacting, C-suite metrics impact. The team thinks more and more like a sales and finance person: how does what I'm doing help retire quota; how does this help generate the best ROI for my company; how does what I'm doing help with three fundamentals of revenue, profit and market share?
Hunger and passion to course correct
Marketing is poised to rise to these new strategic challenges. But success requires enhanced accountability. Accountability requires management. And management requires measurement. The marketing team has a hunger and passion for continuous course correction. Course correction is not an individual performance management tool but is used as an operational excellence tool and to deliver the greatest value to the enterprise.
In addition to measurement reporting and course correction, management must also instill and support a culture of calculated risk taking. In order to obtain operational excellence, marketers must be allowed to take risks and try new tactics and approaches. And fail. And learn from these failures for the purpose of finding success!
Marketing's journey continues to be a fun ride with a lot of twists and changes and unexpected treasures. By steering confidently with data, intelligence, flexibility and a new set of rules, marketers can work through the noise barrier and get breakthrough performance from prospects, customers and fans in the era of spam.