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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 Attributes Of An Honest Agency

3 Attributes Of An Honest Agency

The Problem with Marketing Agencies

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.

Recently, I made a career change to a digital marketing agency because I feel that with all of the different technologies out there, marketers really need guidance and coaching. They need to understand not only how to create an email or post on social media, but more importantly, they need to have a strategy and the understanding of what to do with the data they collect.

In the many conversations I have had with my customers I was stunned to hear that after working with marketing agencies for months, they were still struggling with sales not getting enough leads, they didn’t have a strategy in place, and that they had no reporting to measure the success and quality of their efforts. As a marketing software vendor, I knew these were not challenges they should still have.

I realized that agencies are incentivized to keep you ignorant. If you don’t know how to do what they do, it prevents you from holding them accountable. For this reason, many agencies are opaque; they treat strategy like a black box of hidden secrets and they try to automate as little as possible. These dishonest practices ensure you will pay their retainer for years to come.

Many marketers are looking for help with improving their skills with one main goal, revenue impact, this is where the right marketing agency can be a big help.

So what are the tells that your agency might be dishonest? I’m happy you asked. 

 

What are the tells that your agency might be dishonest? I’m happy you asked.

1. Excessive Hours

Agencies support many types of customers, and some projects take longer than others. Having said this, a good agency can support a full-time marketing effort with a part-time hourly retainer. Why? They should be better at this. When you think about a full-time staff member, they have to attend 1 on 1’s, company meetings, team events, and build relationships with people in the office. SFGate states that employees admit to wasting about 40% of their time at work, this means that replacing the function of one whole team member should, at the max, cost you 100 retainer hours a month (And that’s assuming the agency isn’t able to be more efficient due to expertise and experience, which they definitely should). At Tactical, we aren’t even allowed to sell retainers over 30 hours per month without our CEOs approval because they are so rare.

2. Vanity Metrics

Agencies are supposed to be the best of the best. Agencies know this, they know when your campaign isn’t working, and often, they know whether it will work or not before it even launches. A great agency doesn’t just execute tasks, they help you define goals, prioritize work that contributes to those goals, and measure their success with predefined metrics. If an agency is distracting you with extensive reporting on opens and clicks or website traffic and dodging the question of return on investment, then you’re seeing the sign of neglect, incompetence, or dishonesty.

3. No Results

Not all projects are measured in dollars. Sometimes there is a specific project focus like inbox placement, deliverability, or sales inquiries. A good agency will always have transparent reporting the demonstrates the objective they were hired to reach is being met, and if not – why not. A good agency knows that not all plans work, there are literally millions of variables that can impact the success of a marketing effort. They also know how to overcome these obstacles and actually deliver results. If your agency is better at delivering excuses than results, it’s probably time to start looking for a better partner.

Tactical MA: A Different Kind of Agency

At Tactical Marketing Automation, we work in partnership with marketing teams to increase revenue,  more importantly we take every opportunity to help them understand the logic behind the solutions. Our approach is quite simple, we build trust with regularly scheduled meetings, get to know who we are working with so we can be on the same page as our clients, and we always have the marketers back. Trust, respect, expertise, and communication are the critical ingredients in working with a digital marketing agency. At Tactical, this is how we run our business every day.

 

Stuart Nessel I VP, Sales and Client Relations
Tactical Marketing Automation
Phone: 847.224.9759
stuart@tacticalma.com

 

Put The Mayonnaise Away

Put The Mayonnaise Away

I was 15 and I thought I was invincible.

I was the kid who didn’t have to (or thought I didn’t have to) study and could still show up and ace a test.  This is one of those “skills” that does not serve you well in the long run.  School, work, and life inevitably get more and more challenging as you grow.  Going into more challenging situations unprepared as an adult sets you up for failure.

During high school, my mother, who was wheelchair-bound from multiple sclerosis, found out that she had brain cancer and underwent surgery to remove the tumor. Despite this, she continued to persevere, raising a child on her own, competing in triathlons, raising dogs for Canine Companions for Independence…you get the idea.

By 15, I had seen both sides of the poverty line.  When I was younger, we lived in someone’s garage that had a bathroom.  My mom slept on the couch and I got the closet.  By the time I was in middle school we moved to Land Park (an upper-middle-class neighborhood in the suburbs of Sacramento).

Why am I telling you my life story in an article on a marketing blog (there isn’t enough internet for my full life story)?  All of the things, good or bad, that I have experienced in my life have brought me to where I am now.  I have done everything from washing dishes to running my own company, and I am not above washing dishes again if that was what was necessary to provide for my family.  Most marketers (or business people in general) know what they need to do, we give free consultations away all the time; the plan is there.  Where people fall short is not having the tenacity to do the right thing, all of the time.

Anyway, I digress.

The vice principal at my high school, Brandon Contreras, once told my mother, “I have never met someone so intelligent who worked so hard at trying to do the wrong thing.” In life’s irony, I reconnected and worked with Brandon 20 years later.

I married twice, made all sorts of foolish decisions, and continued to look for shortcuts.  If there was a paved path to the beach and a rocky cliff next to it, I would always take the rocky path.

Get to the point Jake!

Eventually, I grew tired of making the wrong decisions.  I had the drive to be ridiculously successful, without the toolset to know how to achieve success. It was time to take a page from my mom’s book.

What it all boils down to is HARD WORK.  There are no short cuts in life.  No, really, I am going to say this once more – THERE ARE NOT SHORTCUTS IN LIFE.

I had glimpses of success throughout my life (out of dumb luck and being personable), but it wasn’t until I decided to truly apply myself that I realized that hard work always pays off.  You can sit around and wait to win the lottery, or yell at your roommates to put their shit away, or you can just put the mayonnaise away yourself and it will take one tenth of the time than whining about it does.

Marketing, or any job for that matter, isn’t always about the technical details.  What will make you successful in any environment is outworking, and out-behaving everyone around you.  What will make you even more successful is doing all of this with kindness and love.

Here is what I would like for you to take away from this article:

 

  • You will never fail by working hard.
  • Don’t take shortcuts.
  • Stay humble.
  • When you are tired and want to throw in the towel remember that someone else always has it harder than you.
  • Treat others the way you want to be treated.
  • Hug your mother.
  • Just put the mayonnaise away.
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.

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
Using Salesforce Campaigns to Create Custom Lead Score Rules in Act-On Marketing Automation

Using Salesforce Campaigns to Create Custom Lead Score Rules in Act-On Marketing Automation

Intro

 

This article is an advanced use case for lead scoring using Act-On Marketing Automation.  Here we will explore the use case where a company is conducting multiple live events every year, and these events are being tracked through Salesforce Campaigns.  Act-On provides an out of the box feature called “Custom Touch Points” that allows a user to upload an event list and apply scoring based on this.  However, for companies that do many events, the manual process of uploading data is a tedious waste of time. In our use case, we want Act-On to apply lead scoring based on event participation without adding steps to the process after every event. This is an excellent use case for Act-On as true Marketing Automation and not just email automation.

A note for those not using lead scoring

Lead scoring is perhaps the most valuable, least used feature of virtually all Marketing Automation Platforms.  According to MarketingSherpa, “Organizations that use lead scoring experience a 77% lift in lead generation ROI…”  If you aren’t using lead scoring yet, this article won’t help you, but Act-On’s Marketing Automation Strategy Guide will!

Objective

 

While Act-On has native functionality that allows users to load event lists and apply scoring, organizations with many offline or untracked activities can find this cumbersome to manage. When using integrated Salesforce CRM, many organizations use the Salesforce Campaign feature to track and manage this activity. The Salesforce Report serves as a data source for any custom scoring model using Act-On Marketing Automation.

These are the types of creative solutions Tactical helps our customers with every day!

Method

 

Step 1

Step 2

Step 3

Step 4

Step 5

Step 6

Step 7

 Step 1 – Create a Salesforce Report

Configure your Salesforce Report to include all relevant Campaigns and the appropriate fields and Campaign Statuses.  Once you are satisfied with the contents of your report, save your work to the Unfiled Public Reports folder.

Additionally, make sure you configure your report to automatically refresh itself using the “Schedule Future Runs” option. (SF Article Here)

In this example, these Campaigns will have three custom Salesforce statuses:

  • Registered
  • Attended
  • Booth Visit

Remember to include the Contact ID and Email Address on these reports or Act-On will not be able to recognize the records!

 Step 2 – Sync the Salesforce Report to Act-On

Act-On’s native integration to Salesforce equips you to Import these reports in the Act-On Marketing Lists dashboard.  When you select “Import,” a complete list of Salesforce Campaigns and all Reports in the Unfiled Public Reports folder will be visible in alphabetical order.  If you have many such objects, the browser find function (Control + F on PC, Command + F on Mac) will help you locate your specific report easily.

 Step 3 – Configure the Recurring Report Sync

Once you have imported the Salesforce Report into Act-On, you need to schedule a recurring sync on the Report so it remains updated.  This sync will typically be scheduled to run once per day, and usually outside of business hours.

 Step 4 – Create Salesforce Fields for Your Custom Scoring Criteria

After you have defined what your custom criteria are, you will need to create fields on the Lead and/or Contact record to store this data.  In this example, we will use three custom Salesforce statuses:

  • Registered
  • Attended
  • Booth Visit

These three criteria will be created as the new Lead and Contact fields “Registered,” “Attended,” and “Booth Visit.”

We will populate these later in our workflow with True or False values.

Remember to add these new fields to your Salesforce Lead and Contact syncs, and to your Standard Field Names!

 Step 5 – Configure Segmentation

Now that you have your Salesforce Report and the appropriate fields, navigate to the synced Report in Act-On.  Configure segments that meet the criteria for your custom scoring requirements. Each criteria should be a subsegment of a general category.  For example:

Top level segment – Event Date is after 90 days ago

3 Subsegments:

  • Status = Registered
  • Status = Attended
  • Status = Booth Visit

 

This can be done using Act-On’s native “Profile” segmentation and relative date functionality:

 Step 6 – Configure Automation

Now that you have the appropriate segments, create an automated program that will manage updating your Salesforce fields automatically.

The Source List for the Automated Program should be the top level segment you created “Event Date After 90 Days Ago”.  If you would like contacts to reenter the program, Act-On Support will need to enable “program reentry” functionality.

Now add your conditional segments to the program:

Configure the program logic to update the Salesforce Lead or Contact field as True when a contact meets the program criteria. The program should look like this:

 Step 7 – Configure Scoring

At this point, all events are being captured in a Salesforce Report and this data is being synced to Act-On. Using an Automated Program, we have updated relevant Salesforce fields to hold the scored values, and when the scored behavior expires, the scored behavior will be updated as false. All that remains is to apply the Scoring Rule. In the Scoring Rules section, configure a “Profile” Score Rule based on the value of your Salesforce Field. In our example, we will score Registered as 5, Attended as 10, and Booth Visit as 40.

The Profile Scoring rules are configured as follows:

If you do not see your custom fields, it is likely you forgot to add these to the Standard Field Names as outlined in Step 4. Otherwise, your scoring should now look like this.

Based on the automated rules we have configured, Contacts will now be scored the given points for 90 days at which time the score will decay like any other behavior.