Defining a new marketing strategy can be a daunting task – where do you even begin? Often times, marketing directors and managers have limited resources and tight budgets. As a former Director of Marketing facing those challenges, I created an approach to marketing strategy that can be defined and implemented relatively quickly, with very few resources.
At one point in time, I managed an entire organization’s marketing department single-handedly, utilizing strategic vendors and outsourcing when projects became too large to handle on my own. As if that role were not challenging enough, I also managed a Fortune 200 reseller channel, working closely with the Director of Product to get the program off the ground. He only had one director report, managed 17 different products, and was quite often dependent on me to concept, design, and deliver. Just because you work for a large organization does not necessarily mean you have a big budget or resources!
Juggling both our own organizational challenges and theirs proved to be an enlightening path. I directly reported to the CEO with a background in utilizing SEO & SEM to drive leads to his business. One of our go-to-market strategies was to develop a lead generation program that would run in tandem with the rollout of our strategic reseller channel.We worked together, along with our Director of Sales, to develop the strategy and present it to the board, which gave us the green light. Below you will find my keys to a successful digital marketing strategy.
Research. Research. Research.
It goes unsaid that you should know your product inside and out. If you don’t, get to learning. However, you shouldn’t just know your own product; know the marketplace, know the competitive landscape and, most importantly, know your customer. To acquire product and organizational knowledge, your peers are your greatest resources. Utilize them, and don’t be afraid to seek out higher-ups and lower-level reports as well. To know only the top level or only the bottom level of the organization is not enough – you have to have each piece of the puzzle in order to put the whole picture together. Get in front of customers as much as possible – sitting in on conference calls is the easiest way to gain valuable insight without having to engage on the conversation (because remember – when you are researching, you are observing and learning and should not yet have formed an opinion).
Keep It Simple
When you are talking to anyone above a director level in any organization, they only need cliff-notes. If you’re getting stuck in the weeds explaining the nuances of tactical tasks rather than giving a big picture, you’re probably going to get shot down (if they even agree to hear it in the first place). The bigger you can think in the simplest terms, the better off you will be. Break it out into a handful of stages (no more than 10), develop a theme and goal for each stage, and talk about how your program as a whole is going to affect the organizational bottom line. It’s all about the Benjamins, baby.
Know Your Message
The first few networking events I attended in my new role had me thrown slightly off-kilter. I knew my product and brand so well that sometimes, I found myself caught in industry jargon and wasting too much time explaining what I was trying to explain. Come prepared to every professional encounter (even the most casual) with a few sentences about your company, your biggest goals, why you chose to work there and what makes the company unique. If you can answer these basic questions, you have the ability to create organic interest in your company, which some would argue is more valuable long-term than a few clicks from Google AdWords. You should pitch to everyone you meet, because you never know when that person may turn into an investor or even a future employer. If you sell your brand, you sell yourself.
Know Your Tools
There’s nothing that is more disappointing than starting at a new company to learn they work off Excel spreadsheets – this is 2019, people! Or, finding out that your social media management is logging into four different accounts to post one thing each day. Utilizing tools that are not syncing as you go or without version control is a nightmare waiting to happen. There are free and low-cost tools out there that fit any organizational budget. Knowledge is power, and if you aren’t using the right tools, get to work learning them! If you need some ideas of where to start, check out my post here about what marketing tools I recommend.
Don’t Be Afraid to Fail
Often times, I would find that my program vision was much bigger than my capability to deliver. That still didn’t stop me. The key to finding success is not fearing failure. Try, try again until you can make it work. It will take hard work, a few weekends, and compromises, but if you put in the work (even if your vision will never land close to perfection), you will still be impressed by the results.
Don’t Just Fail, Learn
I will never forget the day that I asked the Product Manager of a Fortune 200 company, “What is your definition for success for this program?” and he could not answer the question. I know that he ran two product programs prior to ours, and he failed, so I felt more that this question needed to be asked. It is easy to get caught up in the day-to-day treading of water rather than swimming toward the goal, but to not have a goal in the first place is the worst! If you cannot define success, how do you know when you’ve failed? It is imperative that any marketing strategy have a clear, defined definition of success – this could be in the form of amount of marketing leads generated, lead to opportunity conversion rate, net promoter score, or a plethora of other quantitative metrics. By defining your measurement and implementing it from the very first day, it will not only help to give you a pulse on how your department is affecting the overall organization, but it will also help when it comes time to present your work to higher-ups – especially when you want to ask for a bigger budget or justify your team’s performance.
I cannot stress enough how important it is to have a strategy as part of our organizational’s go-to-market plan. Whether you are hitting the market for the first time with a new product, or re-introducing an improved product, strategy is where your marketing efforts start and end. Without it, you might as well be throwing a bunch of tactics at a wall to see what sticks!
Have a question? Do you feel I’m missing something? Drop me a comment below!