We’ve got marketing management all wrong

August 20th, 2012 No Comments

We’ve got marketing management all wrong.

We’re defining the tactic – email, social media, trade shows, conferences, PR – without clear goals.

As The Cline Group’s Josh Cline wrote, we’re putting the cart before the horse – running forward before we have the goals or a plan.

graphs and chartsIt’s not a traditional or digital marketing divide. Companies are going to trade shows and looking for MARCOM pros with trade show experience without knowing what trade shows can do for their business and defining what they want to get out of the trade show. They return thousands of dollars in the red and with their pockets stuffed full of business cards and some touristy trinkets. They’re looking for email marketers while buying email addresses, and wonder what their newsletter has done for them, and they are seeking people to create and manage Facebook pages before they even conducting a POST Analysis and defining whether Facebook is the place that their customers are and can achieve your business goals. Then they wonder why they haven’t bought.

This is the way things have been for a long time – except the explosion in digital media and the ability to measure goals immediately and easily with built-in analytics make the status-quo even less acceptable today as businesses can measure their progress with more precision and speed than ever before.

Social media is a perfect example in which many have gotten it wrong. Deciding that their competitive strategy is “social marketing” or hiring for social media without understand what it can (and can not) do for you will not bring results. The age of experimentation is over.

Recently, I’ve seen an explosion in jobs for “social media managers” that don’t define what they expect “social media” to do for the business. Social media is a tool like a telephone – it can be used for all sorts of purposes and there are many different ways and goals it can achieve – advertising, cold calling for leads and sales, customer support, market research, etc.  Are they looking for thought leadership and new website visitors from a blog, leads from LinkedIn (and that webinar or white paper), a Facebook community to energize their existing fan-base, a viral boost of brand awareness from the funny video, or a conversation with their target audience? Even worse, they are frequently advertised as entry level when the job requires both strategy and implementation. These are all different goals which can be done by different personalities and have to be implemented differently.

While it’s important to have dedicated staff who knows how to use the tools, it’s even more important to first define your goals.

If you don’t define your goals first, you won’t get results. 63% of B2B companies are still not generating leads from social media – a goal for virtually any company that needs to drive revenue – most likely because social media is siloed and not integrated and because they haven’t built a program to get leads that includes social media.

Social media is mature and has proven results (Facebook itself is 8 years old, the Web is 20 years old, and online forums are even older) that you should be getting a tangible ROI from an approach that includes social media – whether leads, customer support, market research, or whatever other goal that you define. If you don’t have the KPI, don’t pre-determine the tactic. The KPI must be defined in order to generate the ROI.  At the same time, approaches and tactics are very different depending on one’s goals. A plan that aims to generate “buzz” – i.e. brand awareness among a mass group of people – is going to look very different than a plan whose goal is leads.

While the potential and capability is there, because companies aren’t defining what they are trying to achieve and the business goals defined by the C-suite aren’t adequately communicated to middle- and lower-managers in the trenches, ROI is not seen.

As Scott Opplinger wrote, “They might not get the results they want because they had no idea what results they were trying to accomplish in the first place and in most cases had no clearly defined method for measuring those results had they defined clear goals.”

Before determining what tactics you want, first map out:

  • Your business goals and the timeline you want to achieve it – for example 20% sales growth in 3 months, 33% more leads, 1,000 downloads a month, 10% reduced support costs, increase in conversion from leads to sales, more software renewals, 10 evangelists to write about you a month, etc.
  • Develop your benchmark and your goal
  • Develop the roadmap of how to achieve these goals – the different mix of tactics that will help achieve them, including KPIs to measure your progress
  • Measure your steps periodically and adjust accordingly.

In order to be realized, your business goals require channels and tools such as social media, email marketing, media and analyst relations, SEO, conversion optimization, web design/usability, advertising, and more. But, before hiring an expert in one of those areas, ensure that your marketing management and strategy is developed by someone or a team (like The Cline Group) that understands both the channels and what your entire business aims to achieve.

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