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3 Keys to Align Marketing to Your Business

3 Keys to Align Marketing to Your Business

It’s been 7 years since the Fournaise Group published a survey stating that “80% of CEOS admit they do not really trust, and are not very impressed by the work done by Marketers.” It’s an old article that I find immensely insightful in my everyday work and life. In my career, it focused me on the right priorities, making sure that every marketing activity was aligned to the priorities of the CEO.  I had no idea that this simple change would one day lead to the formation of my owner marketing agency and consulting company.

However, just saying “marketing should be aligned to the business objectives” is stupid obvious and very unhelpful.  I’ve never met a marketer who said: “I don’t care about the business I just want to make pretty pictures.” In fact, every marketer I’ve worked with throughout my career has been extraordinarily passionate about their work, the results of their work, and the positive impact it has on the business.

As I take a moment to reflect, I think about some key influencers on my path. Great marketers like who not only taught me skills, they challenged me to be better and think differently. They were passionate about their work, committed to the business, and celebrated by the Sales team. Until the company missed a sales number – then it was their fault. As silly as this is, every marketer has been there; we all know that marketing can sometimes be a frustrating, disheartening, and thankless job. If marketing was easy, there wouldn’t be an entire industry dedicated to it.

It’s my experience that the biggest reason marketers “miss” is because they didn’t know what they were aiming at.  They are told to find leads, and they do, but they aren’t the right people. They are told to find the right people, and they do, but they aren’t converting. They are told to create better-qualified leads, and they do, but it is taking too long.  On and on it goes, such is the nature of poorly defined goals that are not part of a well thought out plan.

So how do we take the statement “Marketing should be aligned to the business objectives” and make this more practical? How do we turn a platitude into a plan? 

1) Executives Set Data Driven Goals

Every successful marketing organization has clear, actionable marketing objectives and it is the role and responsibility of a company executive to set these goals. You don’t have to know how to make it happen.  It will be the job of the marketers to figure out how to do “it”, but it is the executive’s job to define what “it” is.

We have invested a considerable amount of time unpacking this concept substantially in our new whitepaper – Aligning Marketing to Your Business.  The feedback has been excellent and we trust you will also appreciate the insight. 

2) Form a Sales and Marketing Covenant

Neither of these organizations can function without the other.  It is a symbiotic relationship consisting of two partner organizations working together to accomplish the same goal. With the executive goals set, the leaders of these organizations should agree to a strategic marketing plan, a tactical marketing plan, and a specific timeline of execution.  If either party deviates from the plan, they should be proactive and provide this information to the other the way we would in any other healthy relationship.

3) Apply the Science of Marketing

Marketing is to Psychology as Engineering is to Physics.  Humans in a given culture behave predictably, and great marketers know how to use this. Great marketers always define their target audience, always define their buyer’s journey, and always develop tactical marketing plans to target each stage of this journey with relevant content to keep them moving.  When done right, marketing is predictable. Lead generation, opportunity conversion, and customer retention become statistical norms that can be counted on and invested in.

Write it down.  

Formalize the expectations, the strategic plan, the tactical execution plan, the timeline, and the signoff.  These formalities create accountability and unity among companies. If I have helped you, I’m happy, if I have engaged your mind, I’m glad, and as always, if you’d like to entertain hiring Tactical Marketing Automation as your agency, I welcome the call.
3 Act-On Automated Programs You Didn’t Know You Needed

3 Act-On Automated Programs You Didn’t Know You Needed

From time to time I like to geek out on tactical marketing topics, and this is an uber nerd topic relating to my favorite Marketing Automation Platform, Act-On Software.

Also, for some reason I use caps like an old person. It’s late. I’m old. Leave me alone and let me pontificate.

Real Marketing Automation

When most people say “Marketing Automation” they are typically referring to its simplest form of “Email Automation” which is essentially a trigger for set of scheduled messages. While this has some amount of utilitarian value, if that is all you get from your Act-On Marketing Automation efforts, the idea and potential value in marketing automation will soon lose their luster.

As most of my readers know, I had the privilege of working at Act-On for just shy of 5 years and was honored to serve as the Lead Marketing Automation Strategist for much of that time. In this capacity, I was afforded substantial amounts of time to research trends in Act-On and identify opportunity for Act-On customers to enhance their use of marketing automation. It’s no surprise that a significant amount of this time and energy was invested into researching and developing Automated Programs.

Having worked directly with more than 2,000 Act-On accounts and nearly 10,000 Act-On users, I often found myself explain “Marketing Automation isn’t just scheduling email, it is automating your marketing processes so you have time to do more valuable things.”
You see, Act-On isn’t just for scheduling emails. It manages your marketing lists, improves your data, facilitates reporting, and interacts with your human resources.

How? Allow me to share…

Form to Master List Management

 Act-On Forms write to selected Form Submission lists. We very often want to track how many people registered for our Spring Event, so they must go to their own submission list.  But I ALSO want them to go to my Non-CRM Master List.

I could configure a new List Maintenance Program (LMP) every time I build a form, but that is tedious and painful.  Also, the LMP will keep overwriting the original submission data to my Master List every time it runs (e.g. they submit “PHILIP” as their First Name. You scrub the data and change this to proper case “Philip”.  The LMP will keep overwriting the bad data.)

This one is simple.  Use an Automated Program!  All you have to do is add your Form Submission List to the a single Act-On Automated Program.

May have mentioned this… any time an event should occur one time, you should always use an Automated Program.  In this case the logic is simple:

Automated Program Source List:
Each new Form Submission List

AP Workflow:
Copy to Non-CRM Master List

Marketing Stage or Sales Stage Management

 Many people use List Maintenance Programs (LMP) for this, and that’s just inviting disaster.  For example, imagine a lead hits a target Marketing Qualified Lead Score of 40 points. They enter a segment and an LMP sets their Sales Stage to MQL.  Job done, right?

Except sales takes the lead and sets the Sales Stage to “SQL” because they are pursuing the opportunity.  That night, your LMP changes the Sales Stage BACK TO MQL!

 Anytime an event should occur one time, you should always use an Automated Program.  In this case the logic is simple:

Automated Program Source List:
Segment: MQL (Lead Score = 40+)


AP Workflow:
Change Field Sales Stage to MQL

Reporting Augmentation

This one is similar to Stage Management but serves an entirely different purpose.  At Tactical Marketing Automation, we believe “Everything is a funnel.” Call us old school.

Marketing = Funnel

Sales = Funnel

Prospecting = Funnel

Going to lunch?  FUNNEL.

In our workflows, when someone enters a funnel stage they start a stream of emails designed to move them through that stage and advance them towards qualification.  We typically have 3 stages before MQL.

Here’s the problem, I like reports.  I use them to make better decisions. Act-On doesn’t do that.

(Before someone comments about the native “Funnel Reports” – it’s an abomination.  You don’t know what you’re talking about.)

So the fix is easy.

When someone enters one of my email workflows, I set their current stage in a field.  I also note this as their “Previous Stage” immediately before they leave. Now I’m tracking what stage are they in, and what stage did they come from.  To get even slicker, I create counters that increment by 1 each day which gives me the ability to track exactly how long they were in that stage.

Then I create reports like this… Well, I don’t, Mike does.  He’s cool like that.

Conclusion

I believe most things are possible in Act-On.  I regularly solve “impossible problems” in hour long consulting calls that I do for free.  I can admit it, I’m better at marketing automation than I am at sales (that’s why I have Stu).

Act-On is not perfect but damn, it’s powerful, and I love it.

About Phil Bosley

Philip, CEO, has nearly 20 years of marketing experience and has served as a consultant, advisor, and resource for thousands of companies like yours.

Marketing Misaligned: Your Buzzwords Aren’t Helping

Marketing Misaligned: Your Buzzwords Aren’t Helping

Marketing Misaligned

Your Buzzwords Aren’t Helping

You probably already know this, but there is a problem in marketing.  Specifically, marketers are not getting the job done. They are not getting the results they were hired to achieve.  It is my opinion this is because businesses don’t really get marketing, and marketers don’t really get business. Simply put, marketing is out of alignment.

Aligning Marketing to the Business

I’m a CEO, I get the perspective the most.  I didn’t launch Tactical to be famous, I launched it to make a ton of money.  My customers pay me very well to get results they can take to their executives or to their board rooms, and I’m very good at it.   Having said that, I’m good at it because I understand the essence of marketing and how to run a business.

Marketers are mercenary story tellers and every one of us knows that we can get sales to the starting line, but it’s the product and the sales team that will ultimately win the deals.  Whether you are the marketer or the business leader, if you want the most from your mercenaries, you have to give them specific, achievable goals that are aligned with your business.

As an agency, I’m an outsider and this affords me an opportunity to start with the basics on every project.  I get to ask questions about your company, your business, your customers, and your sales process. As an outsider, my questions are often insightful, and expose gaps in the business.  People are impressed and wowed at the impact and ramifications of their answers on their business, sales, and marketing strategies.

I also know that it would be political suicide for an insider to ask the same questions.  

For business leaders – it’s time to give marketing the safety they need to ask the right questions. Marketing has to ask the questions “Why would someone need this?”, “What value do we provide?”, and “Why are we their best option?”  

If the marketing team has to be creative to answer these questions, you don’t have a marketing problem, you have a business problem.  These questions are fundamental to the success of your business. If marketing cannot clearly define them then they fail to deliver – that’s on you, Mrs. CEO.  

Firing the CMO won’t change the fact your business is not aligned to your customers.  Equipping the CMO with the answers to these questions will allow her to succeed in aligning Marketing to the Business.

Aligning Marketing to Sales

Every time someone talks about Sales and Marketing alignment, they really mean “Marketing gets with the Sales program.  Deep inside the heart of every marketer that really gets marketing, they all know this is a problem. Lost in the corporate buzzwords and revenue goals, there is a simple truth that marketers know and can’t say.  

  • Every time a CEO says “the only thing that matters is the bottom line.”
  • Every time the CRO says “no one cares about engagement, the only goal is revenue.”
  • Every time the CFO says “unless you can show me ROI we can’t approve more budget.”

The heart of every marketer wants to give one very real, very honest  answer, “That’s not how it works.”

“That’s not how this works.”

Every Marketer Ever

Marketing is like an engine.   Fuel, fire, and air create explosions that move pistons that turn crankshafts that transfer energy to the transmission  which spins axles that turn wheels.  You can’t measure its effectiveness by any component, and you can’t succeed when any component is missing.  Asking “What’s the ROI of my email campaigns?” is like asking “What the gas mileage of my transmission?”  That’s just not how it works.

But they don’t say that.  The marketer works to show the ever elusive “ROI” measured in top line revenue and bottom line profitability.  But no matter how much data they give, no matter how many facts they present, no matter how many reports connect their efforts to the success of the company – its never enough.  Never enough leads, never enough revenue, never enough proof.

Sales and Marketing alignment is just that, an alignment.  It’s a covenant between both groups around a common message and set of goals.  These two organizations cannot be silos.

This is math, plain and simple.  It requires crystal clear funnel goals that start with the total revenue number and work backwards from there.  You have to build the engine.

  • What is the revenue target?
  • How many Opportunities do we need to win to reach that target?
  • How many Opportunities do we need in the pipeline to win this deals?
  • How many Marketing Qualified Leads  do we need to become Opportunities?
  • How many Leads in Nurture will generate those MQLs?
  • How many engaged audience members do we need to generate those Leads?
  • How big of an audience do we need to get that engagement?
  • Will the market support this?
  • Where will we find this audience?
  • How do we communicate with them?
  • How much will it cost?
  • Is that budget approved?

If the Sales and Marketing teams are not both involved in this conversation, if they are not both in agreement about every single step in this process, prepare to miss your revenue target.

Neither of these organizations can function without the other.  It is a symbiotic relationship, two legs on the same body. If sales is demanding “more leads” and marketing is demanding “more budget” they are both trying to solve the same problem.  Pointing fingers is unproductive. Sitting down and making a plan is the only solution.

What’s the ROI?  If you have to ask that question, you didn’t make the right plan.  Neither team won on their own.

The ROI is your Quarterly Sales divided by your Quarterly Marketing budget.

Aligning Marketing to Marketing

This seems dumb, but it’s very, very real.  Marketing departments are rarely aligned to the science of Marketing.

Marketing is an industry that is full of artists.  The person who enters the field of marketing is typically not an analytical business driven professional.  About 80% of persons in digital marketing have no formal training in marketing, and are trying to figure things out as they go without the skill set required.  That’s OK, it works.

I believe marketing is a science.  It’s predictable, measurable, and when done right, very scalable.  I know that I can generate 1/300 marketing qualified leads for every database.  I know the open/click rates on cold emails, warm emails, opt-in emails. I know how many submissions I will get on a form before I ever deploy a campaign.

I’m am not a better marketer than anyone else in the field.  Armed with the same insight, I’m confident that any marketer who’s worth their salt will accomplish the same thing I can.  I am very good at asking the right questions to define the business objective, form the marketing strategy, and make a tactical marketing plan that will accomplish the goal.

They key to aligning a marketing team around the science of marketing is to give them a plan.  The artists don’t have to understand the objective, they just have to play their part very well.  Overwhelming a copywriter with demands to generate leads is a fast way to failure. Giving that same copywriter the tactical marketing goal of “We want people to feel…” will equip them to accomplish the tactical marketing goal and the strategic business objective.

This is why it is so important to have a plan. Leaders must be leaders.  Soldiers must execute well. If Marketing is aligned to the Business and to Sales at a leadership level, all that remains is effective management of the team.  

As Leaders, it’s up to you to hold the stress and pressure of performance while the team you have built executes against the specific tactical marketing tasks you have assigned. Then watch the magic happen.

“Then watch the magic happen.”

So what’s next?

Every marketer wants to feel successful.  Every marketer wants to know that they have the praise and admiration of their colleagues.  They want to be recognized for the hard and brilliant work they are doing.

I love helping people, it’s what I do.  As such, Tactical Marketing Automation is going to be starting a series of blog posts, white papers, and and videos designed to help companies develop their marketing business plan, strategic marketing plan, and tactical marketing plan. 

If you haven’t signed up to our mailing list – now is probably a great time to do so. 

About Phil Bosley

Philip, CEO, has nearly 20 years of marketing experience and has served as a consultant, advisor, and resource for thousands of companies like yours.

4 Very Simple But Very Helpful Everyday Marketing Tools

4 Very Simple But Very Helpful Everyday Marketing Tools

Marketing is a field made up of about 85 different disciplines rolled into one job title.  Other departments think of marketers as wizards who have mastered all the arts. They don’t even know fire wizards don’t like the cold.

Take me for example, I’m strategy, operations, and tech.  I’m pretty sure my application developer is color blind, and I’m not all together certain my graphic designer knows what a funnel is.

Unless you’re a magical marketing unicorn, you probably have some skill set gaps.  Hopefully one of these tools will make your day just a tad bit easier.

 

01

Many marketers have developed skills to write great copy, but that doesn’t mean their proofreading is always up to par.  In fact, if you’re like me, you’ve read something 7,000 times before you publish it and don’t see the typo until the moment after you’ve hit “send”.

Grammarly is a great free tool that layers into any browser based interface and highlights the mistakes for you so that you can fix them.  It does more than spell check and is a must have for anyone who frequently writes copy.

 

02

I remember I used Red (#FF0000) in a presentation and my Graphic Designer told me it made his “eyes vibrate”. He suggested I used a contrasting orange as a highlight and so I did (#FFA500).  That was also wrong and he explained I was supposed to use a specific Dark Orange (#FE8C00).

For those of us who didn’t memorize color wheels, it’s all about Paletton.  This handy browser tool let’s me drop in a base hex color and creates entire color palettes with easy to copy hex or RGB color codes.

 

03

If you’re a single person marketing team, two things are almost certainly true. No one actually understands what you do and they definitely don’t give you enough budget to do it.

Free stock images sites come in handy when you need a great image on a limited budget and Max Pixel is my go to source for free stock photos.

 

04

I was recently asked “If blacklists are so common, why aren’t more people concerned?”  My answer was sad, “Because they don’t know they are blacklisted.”

If you send email, blacklist monitoring is critical.  The fastest, easiest way to monitor your listings is to drop your domain into the MX Toolbox Blacklist checker.  If you are listed, it will link you to the appropriate delist tool so you can get your reputation back on track.

 

Summary

Why am I advertising for these companies? Was I paid? Nah, I’m just a beggar telling another beggar where I found bread. 

Every now and then you find a few tools that make your day a little easier, hopefully something on this list will help you.

If you’re still reading – my favorite tool is ColorPick Eyedropper which helps me easily select and copy any color from a webpage.  Very handy when I need to remember the hex code from my web font and don’t want to dig out my brand guideline doc.  Check it out below.

Our Blog

3 Keys to Align Marketing to Your Business

It’s been 7 years since the Fournaise Group published a survey stating that “80% of CEOS admit they do not really trust, and are not very impressed by the work done by Marketers.” It’s an old article that I find immensely insightful in my everyday work and life. In my...

3 Attributes Of An Honest Agency

I have spent the last 5 years in the marketing automation space because I feel that it is a must-have for any company in this day and age. Learn how and what people look at when they visit websites and use the analytics generated from these behaviors to see how your marketing efforts are succeeding.

Choosing the Right Charts for Your Custom Marketing Reporting

Choosing the Right Charts for Your Custom Marketing Reporting

Data Visualization is the creative side of reporting. It’s the pretty charts and graphs that your colleagues “ooo” and “aww” over in your team meetings, and if done right, you can set the standard by which other departments are measured.

However, many marketers are not also data analysts and therefore struggle to develop effective data visualizations for their reports.  Consider this example:

Mary wanted to show the revenue generated from her marketing campaigns with an emphasis on which campaigns had contributed most significantly to accomplishing their companies quarterly revenue goals.

She had tracked and measured the data, but the monochromatic bar chart she used just didn’t seem to tell the story.

After a brief consultation, she realized that since her goal was “to compare the success of campaigns” a visualization highlighting comparison was more appropriate, in this case, a pie chart.  While either would work, the pie chart is more effective and helping others understand the data by representing the relative contribution visually.

So what graph should I use?

There are many, many ways to visualize data and what you should use depends largely on your audience and the meeting context.  Many marketers have had their data challenged due to a lack of granularity, and many have had ignored because it was too specific or jargony.  The most important thing is that your data visualization be effective!

Here are some basic considerations* for determining the type of chart you should use:

Line graph

Line graphs are used to track changes over short and long periods of time. When smaller changes exist, line graphs are better to use than bar graphs. Line graphs can also be used to compare changes over the same period of time for more than one group.

Pie Chart

Pie charts are best to use when you are trying to compare parts of a whole. They do not show changes over time.

Bar Graph

Bar graphs are used to compare things between different groups or to track changes over time. However, when trying to measure change over time, bar graphs are best when the changes are larger.

Area Graph

Area graphs are very similar to line graphs. They can be used to track changes over time for one or more groups. Area graphs are good to use when you are tracking the changes in two or more related groups that make up one whole category (for example public and private groups).

X-Y Plot

X-Y plots are used to determine relationships between the two different things. The x-axis is used to measure one event (or variable) and the y-axis is used to measure the other. If both variables increase at the same time, they have a positive relationship. If one variable decreases while the other increases, they have a negative relationship. Sometimes the variables don’t follow any pattern and have no relationship.

Summary

We hope this information has been helpful.  Data Analysis and Visualization are an entire field on their own.  We have not tried to be exhaustive.

As always, feel free to contact us for a free consultation!

*Source: https://nces.ed.gov/nceskids/help/user_guide/graph/help_menus.asp