To be successful, the marketing team navigates dynamic environments that include growth driven changes and challenges. The team must optimize the business bedrock of people, strategy, execution, and budgets (from Scaling Up).
Yet there are multiple distractions that can disrupt focus as the organization scales its marketing prowess.
There’s seldom a marketer who is not busy. Nor have I met a marketer who has not been distracted down a social media or search engine spurred rabbit hole dive. In fact, I suspect that many marketing folk may be working themselves busy to irrelevancy.
I’ve noticed a peculiar dynamic in play when a company scales from $1M to $5+M. The marketing team at such an organization is usually focused on helping the sales team amass new business. However, they neglect to focus on scalability needed in order to support revenue targets beyond the $10M mark.
This is unfortunate, because these ‘formative’ years can be vital to long term success. The team needs to prepare for the complexities that come with size as the organization scales beyond the $10M mark. Dealing with internal scalability issues at that time may prove increasingly unwieldy and expensive due to the entrenched culture.
How do you keep the marketing culture flexible and agile while being growth focused? The solution can perhaps be found in asking the following questions.
1. Is the marketing and sales team alignment tight enough?
There has to be a robust collaboration between the marketing and sales team. The marketing-sales dynamic for a $5M target may be very different from that required to meet a $15M – $12M target.
Let’s take the example of a B2B sales team that may currently be leveraging traditional niche events and industry contact rolodex of team members to get to the $5M mark. However, to scale up to 10+M, the organization must not only increase marketing’s capacity to reach prospects beyond those traditional hunting grounds, but also ensure that the sales team has adapted to new methodologies like online prospecting and social media propelled conversions.
The sales team will have the natural tendency to rely on proven, traditional tactics especially when they have to meet quarterly targets.
Their proven instincts to rely on that conversation at an event could be at loggerheads with an inquiry that comes in through LinkedIn. This could cause a delay in following through with the LinkedIn lead and eventual conversion of that lead to a customer. And in-turn validate their existing bias that online leads are less reliable than leads from trade shows.
In this scenario, the marketing team would lack a reliable feedback-loop mechanism to build a scalable online lead generation pipeline. Thus long-term viability would be compromised for short term-gains.
This is where the leadership will need to focus the team on the long-term strategy while ensuring that short-term targets are not missed. The focus on intent will lead to eventual execution.
The sales and marketing team should start by agreeing to chart-out a timeline for a transition period that accommodates traditional channels as well as allows the team to build new competencies.
2. Is the marketing team too busy being busy?
There is no dearth of things to do as a marketer. There are email newsletters to send, social media channels to monitor, marketing automation, content creation, SEO, and a whole lot of things in between.
But it’s easy to see if the marketing team’s to-do list is aligned with business goals. Let your metrics shine a light on what is working and what is not.
Your metrics and data should tell you;
- What you should start doing.
- What you should keep doing.
- What you should stop doing.
Pay particular attention to what you should ‘stop’ doing since it often comes at the cost of the other two.
The sales team may think the best way to get a message across is to send yet another newsletter. However, it should be clear to you that a 0.2% CTR on such newsletters make this a underperforming tactic that is in sore need of review and change.
Your marketing team should know what tactic works best for which part of the buyer’s journey and what combination of tactics gives you the best results.
Your team also needs to stop doing things which do not move the data needle in the desired direction. Things that work well for a $1M revenue target may not be scalable at the $10M revenue level.
This testing, validating, and refining for scale takes time. So does investigating new marketing technologies that are better aligned with the often rapidly changing buyer behaviour. There is no dynamic college curriculum that keeps on top of trends to teach a marketer the differences between a cookie-based ABM (Account Based Marketing) technology and an IP based ABM technology. Or if you should use both.
Learning more about the ever increasing marketing technology options out there is a challenge that cannot be met if you are always busy being busy.
3. Are you scaling marketing for legacy customers or future customers?
Kodak had once managed to tie its brand to any endearing family picture. Today, just a few years later, some of the readers of this blog post may not know what a ‘Kodak Moment’ means. This drives home the point that any business now understands that it has to future-proof itself to avoid the fate of Kodak or Blockbuster.
As a vital business function, it is incumbent on marketing to adapt to the changing customer of today. In fact, it is prudent to prepare for the customer of tomorrow.
Your current customer’s buying journey is changing and you need to adapt quickly. However, as this customer is substituted with their millennial replacement, the buyer journey could undergo a paradigm shift.
A marketing department that looks forward to supporting to $10M+ revenue sales pipeline should be testing out new channels and technologies to see their impact on business KPIs. Some of these technologies may not yield results this quarter but could be critical to business targets a few quarters down the road.
Asking the above three questions could ensure that the people, strategy, execution, and budget elements of marketing endeavors are well prepared for scalability. At their very core, these questions will help prevent complacency that often comes with making hay while the sun shines and growing revenues.
I’m sure there are other important questions you would ask. What are they?