Marketing Has Only One Objective: Generate Leads
If you’re investing money in marketing and getting trade show booths, collateral, websites or email campaigns, you’re experiencing what we call “hit-or-miss marketing” — a series of activities that produce stuff but don’t deliver the results required to drive revenue growth in your company.
The antidote to hit-or-miss marketing is not marketing activity, a new agency, more internal people or new software. What you need is a well-thought-out strategy that looks at revenue across marketing, sales and customer service.
A defined methodology around revenue, marketing and sales strategy includes a series of exercises to ensure your strategy is comprehensive, orchestrates tactics, includes metrics and uses technology to drive results.
Here is the mistake-proof strategy to guide your creation of a plan that actually produces results.
Nothing interesting here. Almost everyone I know realizes you need personas to tailor your marketing, but do you know how detailed these need to be?
Do you need personas for every one of your target markets and every one of your target roles within those businesses? How about for multiple roles like business driver, champion, advisor or evaluator?
For more on the various roles, click here for a great article on the RAIN Sales Training website.
I’ve reviewed hundreds of persona decks from clients and prospects alike. In most cases, these are incomplete. In addition to standard demographics, you’ll want psychographic details, like their attitudes, perspectives, opinions and aspirations.
You need to know this to properly create marketing messages, stories and differentiation.
The other area of personas often missed is online behavioral profile information. This is critical when it comes to digital marketing, as it includes the blogs they read, emails they subscribe to, websites they frequent, webinars they attend and even live events they attend (because most of the good live events also have active online communities).
Understanding your target persona’s online activity helps to personalize their buyer journey and create a more remarkable marketing experience across all of the various touch points.
This also helps you create assets in the right format. Infographics, video, podcasts, webinars, e-books, whitepapers, research studies and surveys are all options that need to be used strategically based on your prospect’s detailed personas.
It’s rare that one single message drives a huge inflow of new leads for a company. It’s more common that a series of messages must be tested and deployed over time. Some will work well, others not so well.
Building a message inventory gives you the ability to mix and match, get performance data, benchmark message performance and create a consistent stream of messages over time.
When you’re working on your strategy, building the message inventory early allows you the flexibility when it comes to testing, deploying and optimizing the messaging over time.
These are all keys to producing results.
Making your business remarkable might be the most important part of your strategy work and the most underestimated part of the marketing strategy.
Before we get into it, consider your prospect’s buyer journey. They do a Google search for a keyword and find you listed (assuming you’re doing a good job with SEO) along with your two top competitors. They visit each company’s website and see a similar message. After hunting around each site, they find no real differences (at least no obvious differences).
All of the companies sound alike. Now what? You should know the answer to that because it’s an age-old business situation. In the absence of any differentiation, the cheapest price generally wins. This is a race to the bottom in every case.
But if in that visit to your website, your new prospect noticed two or three ways you were remarkable compared to your competitors, that would more than justify reaching out to you instead of them. It would also help your prospect understand why you might be more expensive or not willing to drop your price just because your competitors do so.
It’s the first way to make more money, close more deals and beat the pants off your competitors. It’s hard to come up with truly remarkable aspects of your company, but it’s mandatory if you want to drive revenue.
All of this marketing stuff is great — messaging, differentiation and personas. But in the end, people do business with people, and your people are going to have to talk to the people who work at your prospect’s companies.
This is where stories become important. People don’t remember facts, figures, features or benefits. They won’t remember how many people you have or how big your factory is. They might not even remember how long you’ve been in business or how many customers you have.
But they will remember the story about how you worked with a company just like them, the challenge they had, how you helped them and the results you helped produce. People remember stories, they share stories and they connect with stories.
It’s a little-known secret in marketing. Fast Company wrote an article about stories and marketing that might help you understand the connection even better than how I described it above.
You have all of the personas, messaging, differentiation and stories wrapped up. Are you ready to go? Not quite. When we evaluate revenue generation programs at companies that want to work with us, we see the connection of the tactics to the strategy missing in almost every scenario.
This means the tactics are getting executed but not in an orchestrated way. The website might look great, but the content is not deployed by persona, or the content might look great, but it’s not telling the story as originally designed.
Marketing that works is all about one plus one adding up to three, not two. Great marketing execution touches prospects in a consistent and exponential way.
This is also where sales and marketing alignment become critical, as marketing can’t be telling one story while sales is telling a slightly different one. That makes prospects nervous and confuses them. Confused prospects never sign.
You need to look at the entire buyer journey and every single touch point across marketing, sales and customer service. Then look at the strategic content (like stories) and the delivery vehicle (like web, ads, email or events), and make sure it’s a seamless, consistently compelling and emotional experience.
Any break in that experience will result in less-than-stellar results. In fact, this is what produces mediocre or sub-par results in 90% of the companies we’ve studied.
Speaking of results, the complex nature of sales and marketing has produced a flood of data, analytics and metrics.
Some of you might even feel like you’re drowning in data. What do I track? When do I track it? What do I compare it to? More importantly, what does the data tell me? What insights should I be getting and what should I do with those insights?
This is the secret to using data to drive results: Do your dashboards by buyer journey stage, not tactic.
No one really tells you that the data, the dashboards and the analytics are not the key — the insights are the key to driving results. Those insights only come with years of experience.
However, once you start looking at data by stage, instead of data by tactic, the insights are easier to spot and the actions required to improve results are easier to develop.
When you stop looking at tactical dashboards and start looking at stage-specific dashboards, you realize that you need different data sets from different systems in those dashboards. This too helps produce insights and the actions associated with those insights.
Looking at your ability to educate and influence prospects in the Education Stage and then move them through their buyer journey is the true indicator of how well your marketing and sales tactics are working in this stage.
Do this stage by stage and you’ll start to notice your revenue cycle is moving faster with less friction and driving more revenue for your company.
Because revenue generation is complicated by the new buyer journey, the massive amount of tactical options and the huge amount of data, you’ll need technology as a key part of your strategy.
The key is prioritization. Where are your biggest needs? What tools will fill your gaps and align with where you’re investing in tactics? What software is going to produce the biggest lift for the least amount of money and effort?
You can align all of the software tools with the stages of the new Cyclonic Buyer Journey™ the same way you align tactics and metrics.
If you’re heavily focusing on the middle of the buyer journey, chat software makes sense, along with lead nurturing software that improves delivery and open rates for people you’re nurturing.
If you’re focusing on the early stages of the buyer journey, software to help you improve your search engine results or website performance results would make sense.
If you build these on top of your platform for marketing automation, CRM and service support software, you’ll be fine. Don’t expect one of these tactical- or stage-specific software tools to help you in other areas.
It’s not crazy to realize you’re missing strategy as an important step. For years, as the VP of marketing at a wide variety of companies, I ran marketing without many of the details described above. The major difference? No one ever held me accountable for results.
Today, marketing teams are starting to be held responsible for quantifiable metrics like leads generated, sales opportunities created and new customers signed.
Even more progressive companies are blending their marketing and sales teams into a revenue team that is singularly working together to drive one number — revenue.
If you’re not seeing month-over-month revenue growth, this might be the reason. The only way to find out for sure is to fix your lack of marketing strategy and then restart your execution.
In just a few weeks, the results should speak for themselves, and you should see the leading indicators in your new dashboards moving up and to the right.