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Mike Lieberman, CEO and Chief Revenue ScientistThu, Jan 25, 2018 15 min read

What’s Preventing Your Digital Marketing From Producing Leads And New Customers

We See A Set Of Common Mistakes Over And Over Again – Try Not To Make Them

Mistakes People Make In MarketingToday’s smart, empowered and inquisitive buyers have changed the way marketing and sales will be executed forever. Their devices have put information in the palm of their hands and made quick access to that information a way of life.

The buyer journey is multimedia and 100% controlled by them, meaning it is no longer linear. Buyers could circle around the traditional top-down funnel for months before getting ready to talk to a company representative.

Omni-channel marketing is no longer an option; it’s a requirement. This means siloed marketing and separated sales and marketing no longer match the way your prospects want to be supported. All of these factors make successfully creating strategies and tactics that drive leads and new customer growth complex and highly challenging.

Complexity leads to more failures than successes, and having a methodology to use those failures to drive future successes is key. Having seen thousands of struggling programs, we’ve identified key reasons why marketing and sales underdelivers.

Here are some of those key reasons why marketing and sales might be underperforming and how to fix it.

No One Owns Marketing

This is more common in small to mid-sized businesses. You have the CEO, the CFO, the COO and the VP of sales. Who owns marketing? In this scenario, the answer is no one. You can’t run marketing with a committee and you can’t run marketing part time. You need someone responsible and accountable for marketing — no ambiguity.

You can’t run marketing with a committee through a single individual who has no authority. The other configuration we see frequently is a director of marketing or a marketing manager who reports up to one of these C-level people. Yet the marketing person has no authority to make any decisions. They have to run everything through the committee, or worse, through a person on the committee, relying on them to talk about options with the rest of the leadership team.

Make someone on the management team responsible and accountable for marketing. I don’t care what their title is and what else they’re responsible for, but make marketing one of the key accountabilities for someone with decision-making authority. Set a strategy, create a budget and share that strategy and budget with any supporting agencies or outside resources. Then execute it and make that execution a quantifiable effort that can be tracked month in and month out, just like financial performance and sales performance.

You Keep Changing Your Strategy

New Call-to-actionThis challenge is found in companies of all sizes. But it’s much more prevalent in small to mid-sized businesses. I get that businesses need to pivot. I get that entrepreneurs are constantly looking for an edge and following their passion. But you should understand that marketing follows strategy. When you change your mind, you must change your marketing. That change sets back lead generation and revenue growth.

If you change your strategy every quarter, you’re never going to have enough time to let your marketing programs and sales execution gain the traction needed to produce results. Sometimes you have to give your strategy enough of a runway to gain that traction. Now that doesn’t mean you can’t tweak your messages, stories or go-to marketing approach, but you can’t change your entire business three or four times a year and expect to see results from marketing.

You're Underfunding Growth

When companies run into trouble, marketing is the first line item to see cuts. When you’re talking about marketing, most people consider it a cost center, not an investment in the company’s future. This prevailing attitude is holding you back and preventing your company from growing. Marketing is not a cost but an investment that needs to be aligned with your expected revenue growth. The more you invest, the faster you’ll grow. The more you cut and try to save on marketing, the slower you’ll grow.

I often talk to CEOs who have aggressive growth goals. They want to go from $50 million to $60 million next year, but they have budgeted $3,000 a month for marketing. Really? Aiming for $10 million in incremental revenue growth with only $36,000 a year for marketing? Does that sound right to you? Most research on budgets for marketing calls for around 5% to 20% of revenue as a minimum. In the case of our $50 million company, that’s $5 million (at 10%) for marketing. Companies in growth mode could be looking at upward of 20% of annual revenue.

Look at this money as an investment, not an expense to be cut, trimmed or managed down. All this is going to accomplish is diminishing returns (or no return).

No Alignment Between Sales And Marketing

sales and marketing alignmentThis condition is widespread at companies of almost any size. If you have a VP of marketing and a VP of sales, or a director of marketing and a director of sales, you’re probably not running an aligned revenue generation effort. If you have two teams (one for marketing and one for sales) and those two teams don’t work directly together, youre probably lacking sales and marketing alignment.

Other symptoms to look for include: marketing-generated leads that never turn into new customers and revenue, arguments between marketing and sales around the quality of the leads generated, and bulges in your funnel from leads that get stuck in the middle to bottom of the funnel.

The prospect is looking for one seamless buyer experience with your company, not a separate experience with marketing and then a completely different experience with your sales team. Sales needs to know exactly what marketing is doing and why. In fact, they need to inform marketing’s activities with feedback from prospects and insights from the field. Marketing needs to know what sales is doing so they can provide sales with tools, stories and assets that help them deliver a remarkable sales experience.

This combination or alignment turns your disjointed sales and marketing teams into high-functioning, highly effective revenue generation teams.

No Corporate Buy-In

Marketing is not something one person or one department is responsible for. It’s something the entire company has to embrace and participate in. It’s not someone else’s responsibility, its everyone’s responsibility. If you run a blog, everyone in your company should be asking to participate in the content creation exercise. It’s not a chore, it’s a corporate responsibility to write and share expertise and insights with your community of prospects and clients.

If you want to run a wildly successful marketing program that generates a ton of leads and new customers, then everyone has to be empowered and activated to participate. You can pay us to write for you and we’ll do a killer job, or you can get your team to do the writing and focus your investment on other tactics. Your people already know your company, your industry and your products/services. Which is going to be more efficient?

Instead of writing about you, now we’re optimizing your page conversions, adding new interactive features on your website, creating more compelling email campaigns to current customers and working on getting your happy customers involved in advocacy. To do this, you need your team to be excited and passionate about content. We can help you get them writing.

Your Company Culture Is Weak Or Non-Existent

corporate culture drives marketing successRun a couple of searches on business success and you’ll quickly find many of the experts pointing at company culture as the secret. Your people have to be passionate about what you do. They have to understand why you do it. They have to be able to articulate it to anyone who asks. It has to be a big part of who they are as people and they have to know what makes your business special. Can everyone at your company articulate these simple points about your business?

At Square 2 Marketing, we understand marketing and sales have become much more complicated, and what worked last year might not be working this year. We’re here to help! Our team loves helping companies apply proven methods, science and data to create engaging prospect experiences that turn visitors into new customers.

Everyone here knows our mission, and they know our why. Once you get everyone on your team to be part of your culture, its like having your entire team rowing in the right direction. The boat slips through the water at an amazing clip, smooth and light but fast enough to beat all of the other boats.

It might not sound like this is important for marketing, but it’s critical.

You’re Not Aligned Around Expectations

It might be one of the most important conversations you’re going to have regarding marketing and sales improvements. What are the expectations, and what is the timeline for those expectations? When you talk about expectations, think about dieting. You’re not going to go on a diet, change your eating and workout habits, and expect to lose 10 pounds on the first day or 30 pounds in the first month. In fact, all of the best success stories involve years of behavior change to lose a lot of weight and keep it off.

Most of us are skeptical of quick weight-loss promises. You should be wary of quick lead-generation promises, too. The best marketing and sales success stories take years, not months. When you’re talking about expectations, be reasonable and realistic. If you want faster results, double down on your budget. If you can’t afford that level of investment, set realistic timing and realistic performance expectations. Yes, you’ll see results, but the impact will be more modest and take longer.

There are no “right” answers to the question about expectations, only answers that match your ability to invest, participate, listen, change behaviors and do what’s necessary to produce your desired results in your defined time frame.

So, when it comes to success from digital marketing and sales execution improvements, a lot of the weight falls directly on your shoulders. This shouldn’t be surprising. Again, if you go on diet, it’s not your nutritionist’s fault or your fitness trainer’s fault if you don’t lose weight. If you go to the doctor and they give you a treatment plan, its not their fault if it doesn’t work because you don’t follow it exactly. Ultimately, you have to take responsibility for your own behaviors and actions.

We can tell you what to do, but you have to do it. We can show you what to do, when to do it and how to do it, but you still have to decide to take our advice and follow our lead. Today, the complexity of sales and marketing makes that dynamic and the change required challenging to deliver. But if you’re up for it, so are we. The success we’ve seen from our clients who have embraced that change is transformational. 

Square 2 Marketing – Revenue Is Earned Through Experience, Methodology And Insights!


Mike Lieberman, CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist

Mike is the CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist at Square 2. He is passionate about helping people turn their ordinary businesses into businesses people talk about. For more than 25 years, Mike has been working hand-in-hand with CEOs and marketing and sales executives to help them create strategic revenue growth plans, compelling marketing strategies and remarkable sales processes that shorten the sales cycle and increase close rates.