When you’re in a Marketing Manager or Marketing Assistant role in an SME, you’re busy designing and delivering marketing communications, campaigns and projects. However, typically, there are three mistakes tactical marketers are making.
If they correct these three mistakes, then they would:
- Know that the work they were doing was meaningful, relevant and contributing to their organisation’s success
- Be preparing themselves to step up into a strategic marketing role
- Be delivering results using company resources more efficiently.
Let’s look at each of these “mistakes” and how to correct them.
They don’t understand the strategic “why”
Tactical marketers are there to “do” and “deliver” a range of marketing activities. These marketing activities should contribute to the bigger picture; help the organisation achieve its strategic goals.
If you don’t understand the strategic “why” behind what you are doing then it’s too easy to suddenly find that your marketing efforts are being criticised for not being effective and not “delivering”.
It is your responsibility to find out the strategic why behind what you are being asked to do.
Based on a real example:
Alex works for a growing software firm. He knew from company meetings that the business wanted to expand into the dentistry market, adding this new segment to their three current segments. He had been involved in creating a Customer Avatar of Dental Practices with over 10 dentists. He was then told to create and execute a marketing plan to find and reach these Practices.
Alex spent three months doing just that. He spent 25% of his marketing resource executing the campaign, and the other 75% divided equally between the three original segments.
He was completely demoralised when the Managing Director complained he wasn’t delivering results fast enough in the dental sector.
It turned out that the Board had identified that one of its segments was shrinking and wanted to get out of it. They needed to make up for potential lost income and had identified that the Dental market was the way to do it. Therefore, they needed Alex to focus at least 50% of his time, money and efforts on the Dental market.
No-one had thought to share this with him.
Alex thought he had the information he needed to “do” his job; but he hadn’t been told the “strategic why” so, due to no fault of his own, he didn’t set up his marketing so that it would achieve the company’s strategic goals.
Rush into tactical marketing without continuously planning
Like Alex, many tactical marketers I meet are under pressure to deliver. By the time they have created blogs posts, press releases, website updates, social media updates, brochures, business cards and so on – all the marketing activity that often has to be done in a company – they have no time to plan.
Even if they began with a Tactical Marketing Plan, it gets abandoned as they roll their sleeves up and get on with the doing. I have often been handed Tactical Marketing Plans that are at least a few months out of date. When you have no plan, it means that you become subject to change and delivering to whoever shouts the loudest. It also makes it harder to focus and really deliver results.
So, how do you stop this? You make an appointment with yourself to plan.
If your Tactical Marketing Plan has marketing activities for the next three months, then mid-way through month two, sit down and plan for months four to six. Put two hours in your calendar. Make it happen.
Even better, sit down with whom you report to (Senior Marketing Manager, Marketing Director, Managing Director) at the beginning of month two and ask the “strategic” question.
Based on a real example:
Jodie’s Marketing Director would set the Marketing Plan with her for three months at a time. She got frustrated though because they would get to the first week in Month Three before they would sit down and plan. Often the Director would then be too busy for the meeting so Jodie would set the plan herself. When she started implementing the plan, she’d then be told that the company wanted a different emphasis. She had to quickly adapt the current plan, making it up on the go, because they were already part way through that quarter’s activity.
Jodie took control. She also used it as an opportunity to “step up”.
She now books a Strategic Guidance with her Marketing Director at the start of month two. She asks him questions such as:
- Are we still focusing on X as the growth segment, with Y and Z segments being maintained at current levels?
- Can you give me a % of focus on each segment? So, 70% resource on X, 20% on Y and 10% on Z? This means that we will do more marketing campaigns for segment X; does that fit still?
- We need to tackle some of our marketing fundamentals, such as updating the website; can I have the budget to do this in Quarter four and programme that into the Marketing Plan?
- What’s on the horizon? Are there any changes internally that might affect the customers we’re after? I heard Jo is leaving at the end of the month, so we can’t serve segment X as effectively for the following two months. Anything else?
- Are there any market changes? I saw our competitor has moved out of this town; how have the Board decided to capitalise on this?
This meeting takes 30 minutes. Once it is over, Jodie can now effectively plan the marketing activity for the following three months. Her Marketing Director is pleased as Jodie has relieved him of having to set the plan; he just has to offer Strategic Guidance and input.
Get the strategic picture. Make time to plan. Your marketing will be more effective.
Tactical marketers fail to work effectively with the Sales Team
It’s your role, as a professional marketer, to understand the Sales Team and work effectively with them. Marketing and Sales should be best close allies in the business, as we are working towards the same goals: selling to customers and winning their loyalty for even more sales.
We each have distinctive roles to play. Understand those roles and how you, as a marketer, should be working with Salespeople.
Put simply, Marketing PULLS people through the Buying Process and Sales PUSHES them through.
Here’s a 2013 version of the Buying Decision Process developed by Bryony Thomas of Watertight Marketing.
Salespeople have a similar funnel:
We just look at the funnels differently.
Marketing has labels on its funnel that are about what the customer is doing at each stage. Sales have labels about how we perceive that customer at each stage.
As marketers, you should be familiar with the Buying Decision Process, whichever version you are working from. And as marketers, you should know that it is your job to have some marketing at each stage of the Buying Decision Process which entices people to move to the next stage.
The Sales team work hard to develop more personal, one to one relationships and encourage prospects to make the leap to the next part of the Buying Decision Process.
Simplified real example:
Kate is a marketing manager who has to fill all the places at a Conference. She had to work with the Salesperson to achieve this.
First, Kate ran an awareness campaign on and offline about the Conference. The campaign has two goals: to make sure prospective customers know about the Conference and to ensure that 50% of those who become aware of the Conference move through to interest.
Kate knew that prospects were interested because they were clicking links that took them through to a “further information” page online.
Once the prospective customers were through to the “information page”, they were invited to download a pack about the Conference which included free tips, from the speakers, on the topics being covered. In exchange for this, they provided an email address, phone number and were asked whether they would be happy to be called. So far, all of this is pull marketing. Kate has use marketing, laying out the steps at each stage of the customer journey, to pull people through the Buying Decision Process.
The Salesperson then called these interested prospects to see if they could nudge them further along the Buying Decision Process. This nudging is also known as push.
The Salesperson had a range of material they could offer the prospect, to show them why the conference is right for them. Kate had developed this material. The Salesperson offered this material, as they knew that it would entice the prospect to move to the next stage. Here, push and pull are being used together.
The Salesperson then arranged to call back the people whom they’d sent the packs to; more “push” techniques.
When they called back, if the prospect still wanted more information to make their minds up, then the Salesperson sent them more informative material, as provided by Kate. If the prospect booked, the Salesperson sent out Booking Confirmation emails and “Exhibition Guides” – all produced by Kate – to help the Prospect realise they had made a good purchase decision and encourage them to tell others about the event.
In the meantime, Kate still ran her Awareness Campaigns, adapting them as the Salesperson fed back what people were interested in and what was turning them off. Her campaigns gave the Salesperson a fresh amount of interested people to follow up. In turn, the Salesperson helped Kate continually tweak her material so it was relevant and even more attractive to the right people.
To work effectively with your Sales Team, first, make sure you are working towards the same goal. If it turns out they are after segment X and you are focusing on segment Y, sort that out.
Then, ask the Sales Team: what marketing material would be really useful for you to give to that prospect at this point?
Get a dialogue going about what they need to help them do their job; share with them what you are doing to help them get the leads, prospects, proposals and customers through. Keep talking and sharing feedback and insights, so that both of you can work more effectively.
We’ve had a quick look at each of these mistakes, but they are all broad topics with lots written on them. If you want to focus on addressing a particular one, then do consider different ways to increase your knowledge and abilities.
The OxfordCollege of Marketing offers a range of courses that could help you fill that knowledge gap, as well as free webinars and blog posts. You can find out more about our range of marketing and sales courses here.
This blog post was written by Kara Stanford, Strategic Marketing Consultant for SMEs and Oxford College of Marketing tutor for CIM qualifications.