You’ve written your annual marketing strategy and your channel and content plan. You’ve primed your social media managers to engage with your audience, added new landing pages to your website and finalised your key marketing messages and campaign brand guidelines for the year. You’ve secured your delivery budget, recruited a new copywriter and trained the team on the latest online marketing techniques. Unfortunately, one thing is missing; your overriding objectives and targets for the year ahead!
Blind delivery fails to demonstrate value
Even the most experienced marketing teams often operate without a clear set of objectives and marketing KPIs with which to guide their activity. Marketing management is often so focused on the delivery of tactics, that the hard side of measurement becomes overlooked. When this occurs, it is impossible for the marketing function to provide its value to the business and to justify resourcing and budgetary spend requirements.
Where the problems occur
Some of this may be down to a fundamental misunderstanding about the role and purpose of marketing as a function. Many business leaders will still view it as a creative function that serves to produce graphics, promotional materials and sales copy, and to develop the new customer-facing digital marketing assets within the organisation. In some SMEs in particular, it may be viewed as the slightly more ‘fluffy’ function that comes up with innovative ideas and events for customer engagement.
Of course, this profoundly underestimates the transformative nature of good marketing. It would be accurate to say that most modern businesses do, in fact, need to become marketing organisations with the function at the core of every decision they make. This will increasingly become the case in markets dominated by flexible, informed, mobile and switch-ready customers who expect the finest service and experiences from the brands they decide to engage with.
The central role of marketing measurement
So with marketing at the heart of modern business, it is essential to measure its activities and progress. Without measuring marketing management, processes and delivery, the team responsible for marketing and communication cannot be effectively managed. Furthermore, the budget can never be fully justified, and much effort will invariably be wasted. This situation becomes even more pronounced when digital marketing methods are called into play.
Unrealistic targets vs no targets at all
A lack of targets isn’t the only issue. Of those businesses that do at least set some targets for their marketing function, there is often a danger in setting them unrealistically. A marketing team cannot change the fortunes of a company overnight – especially with a limited budget. They can, however, use their budget in a way that brings about a target ROI, and a series of hard and soft KPIs that span online conversions through to brand recognition measures.
A smarter way forward
Today’s connected world makes it far easier to set meaningful, appropriate targets, to measure progress in an easy way and to deliver stronger, more targeted marketing activity for defined outcomes. Today’s marketing managers need to develop advanced skills in measurement and analysis of activity – using digital methods to constantly refine delivery plans and tactics and to ensure that the strategy is reaping the desired rewards.
With these hard and soft measures in place – a dashboard of evidence – marketing managers and directors are suddenly enabled to have powerful conversations at a decision-making level of the organisation, demonstrating their role in driving the business and supporting its direction. The fundamental value of marketing as a function becomes clear and proven.
Where to start?
The first step lies at the strategic level of marketing planning, and this is where the marketing strategy workshop provides real value. Last year’s tired marketing plan template is very unlikely to bring the results that the business needs, especially in an accelerating digital business world. Marketing strategy must also be informed wholly by the business broader business plan and objectives, which will change each year. The ultimate marketing strategy will be designed around these objectives and use methods of product, place, pricing, process, promotion, people and PR (the classic ‘P’s of marketing) to systematically take the product or service to market.
From this main starting point, appropriate and clearly defined targets can be created at delivery level, which clearly support the business’s broader targets and objectives and which can be obviously linked back to the business strategy.
Take the first step
At Intrafocus, our experienced facilitators help businesses to create successful strategies for today’s challenging business world. Our strategy workshop format is the first step in shaping a business response to the challenges and opportunities that lie within your marketplace. It will guide your business leaders through the issues and decisions required to position you for long-term competitive advantage. Find out more about our 3-morning Strategy Workshop today.