Marketers – we are approaching the end of 2015 and I am sure, quite a few of you are putting your 2016 marketing plan together. And let’s face it, we are always crunching for more $$ to run the show. Most times, you hear lukewarm responses to your ‘flamboyant’ marketing plan? It’s an all too familiar story and I see you all nodding your heads in agreement. In this blog, I wanted to propose an alternative mindset to gaining more budget to do great things in marketing and get kudos and support from everyone in the organization to make this happen. Couple of shifts in the way we think:

Establish Goals Firmly

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Goals are important. But establishing unified goals is more important. Unified goals tie in other parts of the organization to work in alignment with Marketing. Everything starts and ends with increased sales or conversions. So a good sales pipeline driven by marketing could be the first and foremost goal. Second could be customer retention or growth. A lot of this activity would be driven by the the account/project management function or delivery organization in case of services. So tying in with their KPIs and what they consider as success would be critical.

Case in Point: Evaluate the most critical need of the organization. Most times it is building the sales pipeline, other times it could be related to restoring the brand, and a few other times it could be focused on growing the existing strategic customer base. As someone leading the marketing pack, you really need to analyze that and establish strong KPIs around them and propose a plan to achieve them.

Think Beyond Marketing

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This means that don’t just think about convincing your CMO, but also your CTO and CIO, Sales and Product guys. A lot of these decisions are intertwined and not made in a silo anymore. Marketing budget spend has implications on several groups within the organization especially when it is a start up.

Case in point: you want to make an investment to revamp your web presence on a CMS and give your brand a facelift. A cost-benefit analysis of current vs. ideal state to show it to your CTO would be a good starting point. Identify the key measurable KPIs like development and testing of different builds and templates with an internal development crew vs. running this through a centralized content management system by your marketing team. Establish a concrete ROI either in terms of larger conversions or increased traffic resulting in a possibility of a larger pipeline to impact the topline.

Make Realistic Assumptions to Manage Expectations

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We usually get into this ‘transforming the marketing organization’ syndrome. You cannot build this structure in a day. So be conservative but realistic to define what the KPIs should be. Consider all possible failover and contingency scenarios. Establish a fail early, learn fast model with a small budget to prove success before going all in with a marketing strategy. Evaluate your business not in a silo but against and in the face of the different supply and demand, substitutes and complementary forces to assess success and make the bets accordingly.

Case in Point: There might be a chance that you might have a few key marketing resources drop out mid stream, so plan for plan B. Your business could be disrupted by another competitor who builds core strengths really fast to scale.  There might a chance that other departments are unable to scale the way you want them to to support your growth trajectory. All of these scenarios need to be built in into your plan.

The Ultimate Trump Card

Believe in the Product – Believe that what you are building is powerful and is going to make a dent in either a big or a small way. That will keep you going even if the above don’t align, and sometimes they don’t. The firm conviction that you are going to make it happen is quite infectious and rubs across other folks within the organization very soon. And that’s when great things happen, including magical approvals to budgets.

Good Luck and Have a Busy 2016!

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