After hearing company after company describe their marketing activities as random, disjointed and lacking clear direction, we coined the phrase hit-or-miss marketing.
We’ve heard people describing their marketing activities this way more and more over the past few years. My theory is that while marketing execution has become more complex, marketers have responded with a less strategic and a more reactive approach to their programs.
This response leads to hit-or-miss marketing, which leads to underperforming marketing programs, less-than-stellar results and wasted time, energy and money.
If it feels like you’re executing random acts of marketing, there are very specific ways to fix it.
Here are nine adjustments you can make now to get your marketing back on track.
Words matter. What you say about your company matters. It matters on your website, it matters when sales reps are talking to prospects and it matters when customer service reps are talking to customers.
If your story is vanilla, if it’s outdated, if it’s difficult to understand in a few seconds or if it’s neither emotional nor compelling, it means people will probably start making up their own messages and their own stories about your company.
It means campaigns won’t have a common thread. It means rep A won’t tell the same story as rep B. It means prospects and customers won’t have a clear understanding of what you do, how you do it and what makes you special.
This is going to contribute to random acts of marketing.
If you can get a common story, an emotional and compelling message, and clear and sustainable differentiation, you can weave this through every marketing campaign, every sales touch and every customer service follow-up, and you can create real momentum in the market.
Every communication, every touch and every prospect interaction reinforces your story and your message, making it clear what you do and why you’re the best at it. This drives results as leads are generated, sales opportunities are created and new customers are signed.
Think about it like the musical notes the orchestra reads while they're playing. Without the music, they’d be doing whatever they want. With the music, their individual instruments come together to create a beautiful symphony.
Your message, story and unique positioning are just as important to successful revenue generation.
Even with your high-level message and story, it’s still hard to keep all your campaigns pulling in the same direction. This is especially challenging when you’re larger and you have several people running different campaigns with different objectives.
When it comes to campaign planning, consider monthly or quarterly campaigns. This is generally dependent on your resources. The more you have, the easier it’s going to be to do monthly campaigns. If you have fewer resources, consider quarterly campaigns.
Select your targeted segment and be as specific as possible. Don’t worry about getting to ALL your prospects in one campaign. The more specific the campaign, the better the results.
Focus on industry or role. You could even consider focusing on one specific challenge facing that industry or role.
Make sure your campaign is omni-channel. This is where the complexity gets challenging. You’ll need:
It sounds like a lot, but this is how to generate results. It takes time, expertise, planning and money.
No matter how solid your campaign planning is, you’re still going to need to establish some rhythms to how you work with your team or with your agency.
Long-term planning isn’t as effective in marketing as it was 10 years ago because of the data available today.
This means you need to create rhythms to your planning that allow you to take advantage of the data and make adjustments to your plans in real time.
At Square 2, we run a 90-day strategic session with clients to get an overview of what their priorities are, what’s going on in their business and any changes to their goals and/or objectives. You could run a similar session at your company.
We then break that 90-day strategy into three 30-day sprints or work packages. By breaking down big chunks of work into smaller chunks of work, we can be more agile with our delivery.
Here’s a great example: Instead of writing and designing an email, social posts and landing pages for the full 90 days of marketing, we’ll do just what’s required for the first 30-day sprint. We then evaluate the performance of those assets before we start working on the second 30-day sprint. This gives us the data we need to make data-driven adjustments quickly.
This ensures our programs continuously improve as we learn what’s working well and what’s not working as well.
If you want to eliminate random acts of marketing, one of the best practices is working more closely with sales.
First, by working with sales, you’ll immediately be accountable to the sales team – not in a direct reporting way, but in a cooperative way.
You’ll have to explain your campaigns, your targeting and your content strategy, and they’ll want to know important details, like how the campaign performed.
Once you put yourself in front of sales and start working with them closely, they’ll provide you valuable feedback that will help you design better campaigns and focus on lead generation. They’ll also provide you insights that will improve your marketing efforts.
In consideration, they’ll provide you more support and more pull-through on your execution, and your marketing execution will perform better.
Having worked closely with sales as a marketing leader, it’s counterintuitive initially, but working with them always produces better results.
The same holds true with the customer service team. Working with this group is going to open you up to campaigns that are specifically designed to go after customers.
This is a massively underserved opportunity in almost every company we work with. Most people expect new revenue to come from new customers, but the easiest place to find new revenue is from your current customers.
The customer service team will help you identify the low-hanging fruit, support your campaigns and provide feedback in the same way as the sales team.
As part of your 90-day strategy, try to work on a customer campaign once a quarter. Even if you’re running more new customer campaigns, having a regular rhythm to your customer outreach is very important.
We’ve seen clients drive 20% or more of new revenue from customer campaigns alone.
This is important. Content is going to be a major portion of the lift associated with all your campaigns. If you can’t create it at scale, your campaigns are going to be content-deprived.
If you can’t create enough content, you might only execute four or five campaigns instead of 10 or 12 campaigns. That drop-off means significantly fewer leads.
One way to create content at scale is to use video. These could be recorded sessions, video podcasts, webinars, interviews or ask-me-anything sessions – the potential applications for video are almost endless.
Record the session and then cut it up for social. Turn the video into a blog. Add the videos in short snippets to your campaign landing pages, email marketing or lead nurturing campaigns.
You can use even shorter snippets in paid ad campaigns or for sales and customer service to help them provide better, more interactive experiences with prospects and customers.
In a single hour, you could potentially create enough content to support an entire campaign. This is going to be much easier than trying to write something, design it, publish it and then promote it with copy.
By creating a content scaling machine, you can personalize content, create more compelling content, leverage content more efficiently and quickly adjust it based on performance.
Video is one of the only options to create content at scale.
One reason we see random acts of marketing so frequently is because people don’t know how to continuously improve their marketing over time based on performance data.
It’s not their fault, really. This is a skill that comes over time from many experiences.
When you can’t look at a program and the performance data and uncover the insights you need to plan your next campaign, you end up with random acts of marketing.
One of the best ways to start to uncover those insights is to frequently do a lot of tests and experiments.
As part of your campaign planning, I’d consider tests and experiments as part of the optimization phase in the campaign plan.
Most campaigns run long enough for you to do an initial launch and then work to optimize the performance through a series of experiments that either inform your next campaign or improve the performance of the current campaign.
One way to ensure this gets done is to make sure all your marketing efforts have performance expectations associated with them. Nothing should be approved without a set of expected results.
You might not achieve the results every time, but you should know why you didn’t get the results and what you could do differently next time to improve performance.
It’s this continuous improvement that teaches everyone how to uncover the insights and weave them into upcoming action plans.
Random acts of marketing show up when your team is missing some important skills. They might not be doing everything necessary because what they are doing is what they’ve always done instead of what’s necessary to produce the desired results.
You might need to add some new tools or techniques to your execution, or you might need to make significant adjustments to the techniques you are using.
It’s not their fault, but marketing has changed at a lightning clip over the past few years. Marketers have had to work hard to keep up and expand their skills to match how today’s marketing is executed and the tools required to drive results.
Your team might be awesome at email marketing but not so great at paid search or paid social. They might be good writers but not experienced enough to create compelling copy on a late-stage buyer journey offer landing page.
This is where filling in the gaps and wrapping additional skills around your existing team can stop random acts of marketing and get them focused on different campaign tactics and better-performing programs in general.
Finally, there is an element of leadership that, when missing, can actually encourage random acts of marketing.
Marketing must have a long-term perspective at its core. Almost nothing happens overnight.
Since we’re communicating with people, understanding how people make decisions uncovers the complexity of telling a compelling story over a period of time through multiple channels and with multiple touches.
Even with this controllable complexity, some elements are out of our control as marketers. This necessitates that your company sticks with a specific target persona, a specific story and its campaign methodology while gives your marketing enough time to work.
If your company is constantly chasing shiny objects, it’s likely your marketing will never get traction, and random acts of marketing will be the norm.
It takes discipline to change your approach from random acts of marketing to a strategic, well-thought-out and effective marketing execution. Make sure you’re willing to be disciplined, whatever that takes.