How to NOT KILL YOUR MARKETING WITH UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONS
In our world of instant gratification, few people want to hear that success takes time. Einstein didn’t speak his first word until he was four years old. James Dyson built more than 5,120 failed prototypes before he developed a successful version of the bagless vacuum. The slowest progress can yield the richest fruit.
Overnight success is a misleading and often harmful idea when it comes to B2B marketing. When a B2B company begins building out their strategic marketing, there’s a sense of excitement surrounding the possibilities and opportunities that lie ahead. This can lead to inflated, unrealistic expectations. Expecting instant results can kill your strategic marketing before it even finds its stride.
SUPPORT MARKETING – AND ITS NECESSARY TIMELINES – FROM THE TOP!
A recent study shows that only 42% of B2B marketers have a seat at the table with top management, and only 37% enjoy strong endorsement from senior management.1 Marketing needs to be a part of senior management’s conversations, and it certainly needs support from the top. As a company leader, it’s also essential to manage your own expectations as well as your company’s. Expectations of immense results on an immediate timeline can undermine any good marketing efforts.
Marketers, themselves, will find the most success managing company expectations while they are creating the marketing plan, sharing it with colleagues and setting goals. By effectively communicating the marketing plan and goals, marketers have the ability to avoid misunderstandings about marketing that can prove deadly later on.
MARKETING IS A SCIENCE AS WELL AS AN ART
B2B marketing isn’t about ad hoc one-offs implemented with good intentions. It’s critical to set strategic goals, identify the right tactics to use, and execute them in the right order for the right amount of time. Ordering branded T-shirts, sending out a couple of newsletters and running an ad in a trade publication is not strategic marketing. To be truly successful, you need to understand your audience and the content they consume, use the right mix of tactics to reach them with campaigns that target them strategically, and then evaluate the success of each campaign. Milestone meetings and reports at the end of each phase of the marketing plan can give marketing the opportunity to remind colleagues of what the plan and goals were and discuss results.
SUCCESS TAKES TIME
If yours is among the B2B companies that have gotten behind marketing and have taken the time to build a strategic plan, you might be thinking, now what? Many companies that are successful at building a plan then find that they don’t have the time, in-house talent or inclination to follow through on execution. And for those that do execute their plan, they often don’t stick with it because they don’t see immediate results. As with the products or services you’re creating, marketing is a process, and like all processes it takes time. Don’t be the person who approves the purchase of 500 branded hats for a trade show, and then gets disappointed when there isn’t a corresponding increase in leads as a result. B2B marketing is a slow build that involves many ‘touches’ before a buyer remembers your brand and decides to explore your offerings further. Those hats are just the tip of the iceberg.
Be strategic with your planning and stick to the plan. Success in marketing defies shortcuts and punishes short-sightedness. Attaining measurable results takes months, even years. Marketing is – and should be – a managed investment that pays future dividends. Like an investment, if it's properly planned and managed, it provides solid returns, but if you throw your money at the first promise of instant gratification, you’re likely to fail. Stick to the plan, make sure you give each tactic the time it needs to generate results, and you will see success.
ANALYZE AND OPTIMIZE
Marketing should always be revisiting the company’s goals, ensuring that their efforts are in line with those goals and identifying ways to optimize campaigns to improve ROI. If a campaign is abandoned every time it doesn’t deliver an immediate spike, opportunities to optimize will be missed. Minor tweaks can deliver big rewards. It’s critical to make one adjustment at a time and assess its impact. Remember, marketing is a science. You have your controlled experiment and then you make adjustments one by one until you’ve isolated which factors drove the desired results. Such analysis allows you to learn as you go, optimize campaigns and get the business results you need.
If you want to learn more about managing what is expected of marketing and getting the most from your marketing investments, read my latest book, Walking On The Moon, here. And, if you want to discuss building a realistic and successful strategic marketing plan, we should talk.