It’s Back To The Future For Marketers, Sales Leaders And CEOs
Back in 2003, we heard “my marketing isn’t working and I don’t know why” time and time again from CEOs. In fact, it was the main messaging for Square 2. People were confused and we helped them figure it out.
We solved it successfully for years. Then along came inbound marketing and we worked to explain this new methodology. We taught our clients about earning attention, being patient and executing a collection of inbound-only tactics. Inbound was the answer.
A few years ago, the ground shifted again, and as inbound became more commonplace, new concepts popped up like conversational marketing, account-based marketing (ABM), advocacy marketing and influencer marketing. Those concepts further confused an already confused set of people who simply wanted more leads, more sales opportunities and more new customer revenue.
Now, in 2019, we’re hearing it all over again:
- “Our marketing programs are not producing results.”
- “Our marketing investments are not producing the right level of ROI.”
- “Our marketing agency produces little or no results.”
- “My marketing isn’t working, and I don’t know why!”
What are business owners, CEOs, CMOs, VPs of sales and marketing directors supposed to do now? It’s quite simple: Take the approach outlined below to your revenue generation efforts and you’ll see results, you’ll see them early and you’ll be clear on what you need to do to drive revenue.
Strategy Before Tactics
When we look at company revenue generation efforts and help companies assess where they missed the mark, this comes up as the number one reason for poor performance. Companies that skip the strategy phase get less-than-expected results 95% of the time. It’s a staggering statistic, but nonetheless it points to a big part of the problem.
Yes, strategy work like messaging and differentiation is hard work and requires consensus and sign-off from a variety of leadership-level people, but it’s a requirement. If you have nothing remarkable to say, don’t say anything at all.
Persona work is not strategy; it’s just a piece of the strategy. You need compelling, disruptive and emotional messages. You need clear and remarkable differentiation, and you need stories for marketing and sales to share with prospects that get them connected, engaged and interested in talking to your people about doing business.
Finally, understanding the numbers is a big part of strategy. Where is your marketing and sales performance today? Where does it need to be tomorrow to hit your desired revenue goals? That gap is often dramatic, and if you’re not funding your investment in revenue generation at the right level, you’ll never span that gap.
Any in-house team or agency not working with you to do the strategy work is probably going to underperform eventually.
The next most consistent miss is a siloed approach to marketing and sales execution. What this means in English is that your tactics are not connected. Today, it’s not enough to have integrated marketing and sales tactics – they must be orchestrated, just like a symphony would be orchestrated together to create a beautiful musical experience. That’s how sales and marketing tactics need to work today.
You can’t have someone working on the website or a website agency handling your site. You can’t have someone else handling SEO and a third person working on email marketing.
This disconnect prevents you from achieving your best results. You can’t have one person working on content and another working on conversions. It’s all tied together. You need a thread that connects all of your marketing and sales tactics.
Yes, sales tactics too. The stories that marketing is using in their tactics have to be echoed by sales in their tactics. The experience has to be seamless for your prospects, and the feedback from sales is going to help drive the success of the marketing tactics.
Prioritized Based On Data
Issue three: You have to stop operating based on opinions, perspectives or past experiences. You can’t let the loudest voice at the table dictate what you do.
Instead, make decisions based on data. Which message is best? The one that produces the best results. Which homepage do you like better? The one that produces the most leads. Which design template is right for your emails? The one that drives the most clicks.
If you’re not sure about your data, make that your top priority. Set up your dashboards, scorecards and performance reporting to show what’s most important to you, and make all of your decisions based on program performance data.
We still see too many companies making marketing and sales decisions based on the old way, opinions or experiences from the past. That’s not how modern revenue generation gets done.
Finally, with so many tactics, channels and options available, you’ll also need a prioritization methodology to help you organize everything you can do into a list that you can accomplish and a list that will produce the desired results.
Start with the tactics that will produce the biggest lift or the best results for the least amount of effort. Fill up your to-do list with as many of these as possible, and then move into those items that will produce big results but also take a big effort. Leave those items that will produce a small lift, even if it’s a small effort to the end. If you never get to those, little will be lost.
A Scientific Approach To Everything You Do
Next, you should think more like a scientist. Scientists don’t know the answers to many of the questions they’re trying to figure out. Instead, they create a series of experiments to get the data required to figure out their questions.
They don’t get upset or in trouble when their experiments fail, because those failed experiments tell them what not to do again. They learn from failed experiments. If you try a new email template and it doesn’t work, don’t be disappointed, because you now know not to do it like that again.
If you try a new landing page template and the results go down, that’s not a bad thing, it’s a good thing. Try to isolate what about the page didn’t work. Maybe the form was too long, the headline was not compelling enough or you didn’t use the right image. Start testing all of those individual elements one at a time until you get the results moving in the right direction.
The intelligence that comes from tests like this is highly valuable to your organization and can drive massive revenue results. Unfortunately, most companies never take this approach and never uncover this intelligence, because they’re always looking for the newest shiny object or the latest shortcut. There are no real shortcuts to marketing results.
Alignment Of Marketing And Sales Is Not Enough
Again, everyone knows marketing and sales have to be aligned, but what does that mean exactly? I’m going to tell you that alignment is not even enough anymore. I’ve seen too many sales teams fumble the leads marketing generates and too many marketing teams not listening to the insights coming from salespeople.
These two departments need to be merged into one single revenue team. That means shared leadership, shared goals, shared feedback loops and shared accountability for the company’s revenue growth.
The money you save by having one single executive leading both teams is going to fund your growth strategy for an entire year. Don’t be shy to pull the trigger on this move. We’ve seen it accelerate revenue growth goals by almost double (and it happens very quickly).
Once people in marketing and sales start working together, close rates improve, sales cycles decrease and sales opportunities increase dramatically.
Take A Long-Term Perspective
No more short-term thinking, please. I know you want results tomorrow, but in only the rarest of circumstances can any marketing team produce results immediately. Instead, look at marketing, sales and customer service improvements as something you want to do every day (not do every day for six months and then take a break).
You should never be taking a break from marketing, and some of the bigger initiatives might actually take you a year or longer to bring to market. For example, if you want to write a book or do a Netflix-style podcast series, it might take months of planning to simply be ready to record your first episode and then another couple of months to get all of your episodes “in the can” as they say.
It might take you a few more months to get the campaign and promotional assets ready. Anything worthwhile and anything of value is probably going to take time. Try to be patient and try to have a long-term perspective on all of your sales and marketing initiatives.
Work With People Who Know What They’re Doing
Finally, if you are looking for efficiencies, you have a few options. First, work with people who have done this before (not once or twice or five times but 50 times). If these people seem cheap, they’re not the right people. People who know what they’re doing when it comes to revenue generation are going to require a significant investment.
If you’re hiring someone in-house, you’re going to be paying over $100,000 a year in salary alone. If you’re looking for an agency, anyone quoting you under $10,000 a month doesn’t know what it takes to get you results.
We see far too many people start with the cheap inexperienced resources and end up back talking to us six months later. Now they’re out the initial investment, but worse, they’re six months delayed in their business plans and strategy. It’s one of the most avoidable mistakes.
Yes, revenue generation is confusing and complex, but with the right approach, the right strategy and the right team, you can get your company to grow.
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