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2014 Marketing Planning Guide


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It’s that time of year again!

No, we’re not talking about presents under the tree or hot apple cider or snowball fights.

We’re talking marketing budget, new resource planning, strategic marketing plans and more!

We realize both end-of-year business planning as well as holiday preparations can both be stressful. We can’t really help you with your shopping, but we can offer a series of best practice guides and advice on how to plan for and hit the ground running on some focused, strategic sales and marketing initiatives to start the New Year right.


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2014 Marketing Planning Guide

  1. 1. 2014 Marketing Planning Guide It’s that time of year again! No, we’re not talking about presents under the tree or hot apple cider or snowball fights. We’re talking marketing budget, new resource planning, strategic marketing plans and more! We realize both end-of-year business planning as well as holiday preparations can both be stressful. We can’t really help you with your shopping, but we can offer a series of best practice guides and advice on how to plan for and hit the ground running on some focused, strategic sales and marketing initiatives to start the New Year right. Enjoy! First Things First: How To Get Organized And Strategically Plan For The Year Ahead 2 Six Critical Marketing Focus Areas To Ensure 2014 Success 2 Five Ways To Stay Focused, Get More Done And Be More Successful 2 Four “New Marketing” Skills You’d Better Learn Quick 3 Five Stages Of Effective Content Strategy Implementation 4 Productivity Tips For The End Of The Year 5 Ten Productive Ways To Work In The Last Days Of The Year 5 Forecasting Your Pipeline And Lead Management Building And Managing A Bigger Sales Pipeline How To Organize And Communicate With Channel Partners Lead Generation Modeling Made Simple Improve Sales Forecast Accuracy With These Seven Steps 7 7 8 9 9 Budgeting For Success 10 Six Marketing Focus Areas You’ll Want To Budget For In 2014 10 How To Write A Marketing Budget Your CFO Will Enthusiastically Support 11 Plan And Budget For Data Hygiene In 2014 12 Six Places To Cut Budget (Without Impacting Results) 14 Marketing Automation 15 Get Your Marketing Automation Initiative Back On Track For 2014 15
  2. 2. F I RST T H ING S F IRST: H OW TO G E T O R GANIZ ED A N D S T R AT E GIC AL LY PL AN FOR TH E YEAR AHEAD Six Critical Marketing Focus Areas To Ensure 2014 Success Success in 2014—which includes developing the plans and resources required to execute—means simultaneously assessing the impact of current-year efforts while precisely projecting what you’ll need across the organization to accelerate success in the New Year. What skill sets do existing staff need to increase success in the coming year? We highly recommend that marketing organizations take advantage of time in late Q3 and early Q4 to get ahead of the 2014 budgeting and planning cycles—by both reviewing and improving the efficacy of current efforts, plus successfully planning, budgeting for and hitting the ground running on greater objectives next year. Where can it be improved—depth and breadth—and how can that be most efficiently accomplished? Think of it as a 2014 Readiness Review: part real-time postmortem on the year to-date, plus a functional review of what’s needed to hit 2014’s objectives. Which specific tools, applications and integrations are required both now and over the next several quarters? To do this, dedicate time with your managers and key marketing contributors and dig into the following: Process What systems are in place to support and automate execution? Which new processes can be introduced to improve efficiency, consistency and results with minimal cost? People Database Health How efficient is the current prospect database? Technology What is the optimal software stack for your marketing organization? Sales And Marketing Collaboration What processes, rhythms and other collaborations need to be in place to improve lead conversion and sales success? What specific strategies and tactics can be adopted to improve real-time results? Content, Social And Search Strategy What is the optimal mix and collaboration between content, social and search specific to your customer and market opportunity? Which roles are required to execute on the strategy and objectives moving forward? Five Ways To Stay Focused, Get More Done And Be More Successful I recently asked several business and executive coaches what they do for their clients. I wanted to know more about their process, their approach, and generally how they create value for the people and organizations they engage. Although each had a slightly different take, it all boiled down to one thing—focus. Each successful coach produced results for their clients by helping them get the most out of themselves and their teams, in every case by focusing time, talents, resources and values. What I heard generally fell into five distinct areas of focus: 1. Focus On What’s Important It’s easy to feel successful in a day that’s busy. Filled with putting out fires. Getting things done. But often, we don’t get the right things done. By stepping back and focusing on what’s most important (not necessarily what’s in front of us, or what’s easiest, or what’s screaming the loudest), we make far better forward progress (and often in less time). 2. Focus On What You’re Good At Know your strengths, and lean into them. Compare that to what your organization needs, and ensure that others are doing everything else for you. Yes, there’s a cost to 2
  3. 3. delegating, but the results will far outweigh the investment when you have more time for your strengths, and others are accelerating your cause by leveraging theirs. your values? Getting back to the basics of your business can oftentimes be the simplest and most effective way to accelerate growth and productivity again. 3. Focus On Fewer Things 5. Focus On What You Want Most of us take on far too much. Even if those are all things that are both important and speak to our strengths, there’s not enough time in the day to get it all done. Make the hard trade-offs for what’s going to drive the most value, and make the hard decisions to put other projects on the back burner. It’s amazing to me how many people let the day and its myriad influences direct not just day-to-day, but larger directional decisions that affect personal and professional success. When’s the last time you took 30 minutes to reflect on what’s most important to you? What will make you happiest and fulfilled? How do you map those priorities back to your life and your business? 4. Focus On The Basics What’s most important to your business? What’s fundamental? What got you where you are now? What are Four “New Marketing” Skills You’d Better Learn Quick Of course, achieving one or many of these areas of focus is far easier said than done. If you have the discipline to address and stick to these on your own, you’re in the minority. For the rest of us, finding a coach (or even just a mentor) to keep us accountable and help unlock the full potential of our focus can reap significant dividends personally and professionally. Marketing today, especially for B2B, has changed significantly. And whether you’ve been out of it for awhile, or want to make sure your skill set keeps up with what’s required for success now and moving forward, here are four skills I recommend you learn quickly. 1. Funnel Math And Revenue Perfromance Management The mindset you want, even as a marketer, is that your job depends on finding and closing business. It’s not enough to manage the trade show, send the direct mail, or even flood more leads to the sales team. You need to understand the economics of the full sales funnel—how many opportunities are required to generate a closed sale, and how many leads are required to find a qualified, short-term opportunity (for starters). Next, knowing that today’s sales process is completely nonlinear, you need to understand the fundamentals of lead nurturing and two-way lead and opportunity movement, including the metrics behind these dynamics for your unique market and industry. Here’s a relatively simple mathematical model for understanding the lead-opportunity-sale math for your company. And for revenue performance management, I recommend reading up on best practices from Marketo, Eloqua, Hubspot and others whose business focuses on revenue-centric marketing. 2. Social Lead Generation And Buying Signal Mining If you’re worried about followers and likes, you’re doing it wrong. Focus instead on engagement, conversations, and driving an active, two-way discussion about the issues, needs and pain points your target customers care about most. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Your prospects are sharing their needs and buying signals on the social web every day. Your responsibility is to listen, look proactively for mentions of those keywords and buying signals, and become an information concierge to drive topof-pipeline lead generation for your organization. Technology and process drives value here, not media buying and budget. The social web is the greatest source of ongoing free leads ever seen. Are you taking advantage? Here’s a best practice guide on social sales best practices, as well as a full (and free) resource on successful social selling. 3. SEO And Inbound Marketing Fundamentals The rules change (literally) daily, but it’s important to understand the fundamentals of what drives natural traffic, and how to create content that drives perpetual inbound interest for your products and services. If you understand (and read) nothing else, understand that the most important drivers of successful SEO and inbound marketing are 1) great content, and 2) inbound links that demonstrate others are validating your great content. 3
  4. 4. It’s worth reading content from Hubspot, SEOMoz, Content Marketing Institute and others who keep up on the daily changes of the technical aspects of SEO, but educate and enable “the rest of us” on how to cut through the clutter and drive value, traffic and conversions. This isn’t about buying a marketing automation system. It’s about having a strategy that addresses how your customers buy, and enabling processes and tactics throughout your organization that address and empower your prospects where they are. 4. Lead Management/Nurture Workflow Development No matter how tightly you manage your sales process, your prospects will decide (independent of you) when they’re ready to buy. So your lead management and nurture strategy had better reflect that. Even if you aren’t using a marketing automation solution, your marketing strategy should reflect the reality that the majority of your prospects don’t convert (or move forward) right away, and that most of them need “nurturing” in advance of being ready to buy. This isn’t to say that the “old” marketing focus areas and strategies aren’t relevant or don’t work. Because many are and do. But if you don’t have a working knowledge of the above four disciplines, it’ll be difficult to be a working marketer moving forward. Five Stages Of Effective Content Strategy Implementations This installment outlines five key structural stages of effective content marketing implementation. Like most marketing programs, the vast majority of your time will be spent in execution mode. But without proper planning, your execution has far less of a chance of having the effect you desire. What’s more, ensuring that your plan covers each of the key elements or stages of the program is essential to maximizing success. and conversion? Think through these and other structural questions before beginning to execute or even outline the key points to be made. Different formats and structures lend themselves to different angles and approaches to content. The better you’re able to match your objective and audience to the right format, the more productive the final product will be in delivering your desired outcome. 1. Objective With the first two steps above in place, you’re ready to execute. Set a clear production schedule with stages of review for key parties. Depending on the nature of the content program and product, consider including a customer review of the content before it’s finished as well, to make sure it resonates and “works” not just with internal reviewers but a potential peer of your intended end audience. Just as in product development, it’s easy to make adjustments, cut corners or otherwise change the original plan to get a final product out the door. But as you execute, ensure that you aren’t compromising the objectives and original needs of the content and program overall. Seems basic and obvious, but the nuances of your specific objective or need for a particular piece of content (or content program) may change how you execute. For example, is your content intended to drive awareness and discovery, or something more specific and deeper within the sales process? Knowing what you need the content to do (i.e. what you want the audience to think and act on after consuming your content) will drive clarity and precision through the rest of your program execution. Defining your objective up front will also ensure all internal constituents (especially between sales and marketing) are on the same page and agree on what you’re trying to accomplish. 2. Asset Architecture Once you have the objective established (which also inherently directs who you are targeting and with what purpose), you can effectively choose the format and structure of the content itself. For example, what media should you use? If written, is it a blog post, a white paper, a transcript of a previous event, or something else? How and where should it be published and accessible? Will you require registration? How long will it be, and what will you request of (or offer) the recipient after consuming the content? How will you measure consumption, impact 3. Execution 4. Measurement Because you included measurement in your inventory of asset architecture requirements, you won’t be scrambling during or after execution to figure out if your plan worked. With measurement structures in place, start reviewing the immediate and long-term impact of the content program. Does the output or result match your expectations and objectives? If you started with a limited test, have you seen enough to expand deeper into the market, to more of your opt-in list, or across the rest of your customer base? 4
  5. 5. 5. Continuous Improvement As you measure consumption and impact trends, look for ways to make your results even better. What are consumers of your content telling you explicitly and implicitly about its value? What feedback are you getting about how to make it more impactful? What have you learned from this particular content program that can impact previously-launched programs, but also make future programs more successful right out of the gate? Plenty of content programs get launched and quickly forgotten about. And if they continue to drive inbound traffic and/or leads, that may be OK. But there are often best practices discovered in later programs that could be applied to previous, now-passive programs to make them perform even better for you in the background. Productivity Tips For The End Of The Year Planning Your Holiday Vacation 4. Have An Escalation Path (Just In Case) With the holiday season, you may be wanting to take time off. You may want to truly go dark, no email, phone calls, or meetings. To do that successfully takes planning, as does doing the same for a great vacation or even a long weekend. If something truly does catch on fire (which can happen), make sure your staff (or at least an assistant or trusted number two) can still get ahold of you if necessary. Again, last resort, but important. If you want to truly disappear, here are a few steps I recommend. 5. Keep Capturing Notes And Ideas 1. Clear Your Schedule Even though you’re intentionally adding distance between yourself and active work, you’ll still have ideas. Better to capture those on paper, in Evernote or somewhere else you can save them for processing and/or execution later. Cancel as much as you can, and move the rest. Don’t leave yourself with any scheduled reasons to re-engage. It’s a slippery slope. 2. Make It Clear To Colleagues And Clients Don’t tell people you’ll check in every once in awhile. Let people know you’ll really be gone. Make it clear who they can contact while you’re gone. 3. Create A Really Good And Clear Out-Of-Office Auto-Reply For Your Email Again, be clear that you’re not going to respond anytime soon, and give contact information for others that can take care of them in the meantime. If you must, leave a cell phone number for emergencies but make it clear that something had better be on fire. 6. Have A Re-Entry Plan (And Give Yourself Time And Patience To Adjust Back) Before you leave, set up your first day back. Leave plenty of time open to catch up on email, re-orient yourself to active work, and re-connect with your closest colleagues to get caught up on what’s most important. I recommend blocking an entire day to do this. Relatively simple list, but rarely executed well. You may not need every step for a three-day weekend, but a couple can still give you the time away you need to come back refreshed and productive. Ten Ways To Be Productive In The Last Days Of The Year It only happens once a year, that magical week between Christmas and New Year. And for those who continue working in between holidays, it’s definitely slower. More colleagues, customers and partners are out of the office, more recurring meetings are cancelled, and we consequently have more lightly-scheduled days than normal. How you use that time is completely up to you. It would be easy to reactively handle email, take a long lunch, and linger too long in your RSS reader. But we both know, if you’ve chosen to stay in the office this week, there are better things to do. Here are at least ten things you can do in the quieter days leading up to New Year’s Day to help you accelerate through the curve and come back January 2nd ready to take on the world. 5
  6. 6. 1. Finish A Big Project 6. Networking Something (or several things) on your plate have been sitting there for longer than expected. You haven’t had time to get them done, or haven’t taken the time to break that project down to the individual steps it will take to get it off your desk. Now’s the time to do just that. Pick a project (or two, no more than that), and set an aggressive goal to get it done in the next couple days. Shut your door, turn off email, and focus. If you pick the right project, you’ll be far better off with this done and producing results for you next week. Who are the people and organizations you’ve lost touch with over the past year? Make a list, and focus time this week to get back in touch. You don’t need a reason—just a quick “reflecting on the past year and thought of you” kind of message will work great. If your contact is out this week, they’ll still appreciate seeing your email or voicemail when they return. And if they are in this week, you might just get a faster response and reconnection. 2. Plan A Big Project Every one of us has a list of projects that sound great, but have no next steps attached to them. They’re typically complex projects that just need a little planning, need some immediate next steps and deadlines. Even the most complex projects have a very simple next step to get them rolling. Figure out what those next steps are for you—today, tomorrow and next week even. Get the ball rolling this week and you’re far more likely to get the whole project done faster. 3. Get Organized This is a great time to finally implement a more successful organizational or productivity system for yourself. Especially if you’re decided you like the approach of Getting Things Done, for example, but haven’t yet had time to implement it, block the next couple days and make it happen. This may feel like “preparing to work” vs. getting actual work done, but I guarantee the rest of your week (and your New Year) will be far more productive if you invest the time to do this now. 4. Clean Stacks on your desk, random magazines on your bookshelves, clutter that distracts you from what needs to get done. You just hope there’s nothing in the middle of that stack that needed to be completed last week. Take the time this week to clean it all up, get it organized, and extra credit for creating and/or implementing an organizational system or strategy that keeps this clutter from happening again. 5. Improve Your Work Environment Is your workspace set up in the most effective way? Should your desk face a different direction, do you need a whiteboard on the wall, a printer within arm’s reach, a headset for your phone? This is a great time to consider how you might more effectively work, and ensure you have the set-up and tools to do it. This includes software, Web tools, subscriptions, whatever you need. 7. Inbox Zero Even if you don’t implement a proactive email inbox management strategy right away, work this week to declutter the one informational interface you likely use more often than others throughout the day and workweek. Take the time to sort, file or respond to as many relevant emails as possible. Delete the rest. Don’t be afraid to declare “email bankruptcy” and start from scratch, especially for that backlog of email newsletters you’ve been meaning to get to (but, let’s face it, you just won’t as they keep piling up). 8. Spend An Afternoon (Or Day) Alone With your Thoughts Give yourself the gift of your own mini-retreat. Take with you a handful of things you’ve been meaning to brainstorm or think about. It could be your professional goals for the new year, it could be a new project or opportunity that simply needs your creative thinking to get started. Find a quiet coffee shop (without wifi) where you can ensconce yourself and just think for awhile. 9. Dream Where do you really want to go? What would you really rather be doing not just this time next year, but in 3–5 years? If you never have time to think that far ahead, this is your time. This could be related to a product or brand you help manage, it could be related to the business you own or run, or it could be related to your career or personal life. Think big, think beyond what you can comprehend or plan for immediately. Worry about implementation and next steps later, but document your ideas and thought process so you can sort, prioritize and consider what happens next. 10. Recharge Focus too much of the next few days on the list above and you’ll likely get back to the office on January 2nd without the energy you’ll need to face the onrush of work, opportunities, fire drills and other distractions that will inevitably come. Take an afternoon and take in two matinee movies. Stay home and catch up on whatever’s on your DVR. Take that long lunch. Just do these things intentionally, and be ready for the big year ahead. 6
  7. 7. F O RE C AS T IN G YOU R PIPEL IN E AN D LEAD MANAGEM ENT Building And Managing A Bigger Sales Pipeline Why Do You Need A Pipeline In The First Place? Most leads aren’t sales-ready: Whether you’re sending out campaigns or fielding inbound calls, as little as 15 percent of your leads are going to be both qualified and sales-ready. The majority of your leads may be qualified, but they’re not ready to be worked into an active buying cycle. You need a pipeline that can triage and communicate with these prospects accordingly. You Can’t Focus On Everything You simply cannot keep everything in your head. Notebooks and post-its on your computer monitor aren’t going to help either. You need a system to manage lead volume, status, next steps, reminders, etc. for you. Your time, right now, is best spent on the best prospects, ready to take the next step. Let your pipeline manage the rest of the work for you. The Right Message At The Right Time With every stage of the buying process, your prospects will want (and accept) different things from you. This includes type of information, frequency of contact, and channel(s) used to communicate. By using a pipeline with defined stages, most of this thinking is already done for you. You simply execute. Maximum Sales, Minimum Work An effective sales pipeline strategy will help you get the maximum sales and conversion from your prospects, while doing as little work as possible. It’s not about being lazy or taking shortcuts, it’s about working smarter and respecting your buyers. And it works. It’s A Pipeline, But Your Prospects Shouldn’t Know That The last thing you want to do is make your prospects feel like they’re in some kind of sales funnel. Don’t treat them like a number, and don’t force them to go faster than they’re willing or ready to go. An effective sales pipeline will nurture prospects on their time with occasional offers to let them self-select into a more active communication and buying cycle DO NOT SELL Seriously, especially in the early stages when prospects aren’t ready to buy. Instead—add value, educate, connect and empower. Become a trusted adviser for your prospects, someone they can trust, someone they know won’t sell them something they don’t need, or that won’t benefit them. The more you build value, the more your prospects will look forward to hearing from you. Automate As Much As You Can This means reminders for next steps, the next steps themselves (based on activity triggers), content templates you can quickly customize for individual prospects, etc. Custom communication is important, but if you understand your customer base, there’s plenty to templatize and automate to save you significant time and hassle as you execute. Differentiate From Competitors As you build value and communicate with prospects all along the sales pipeline, also build differentiation and preference for you and your products/services. Don’t slam competitors, and in most cases don’t even address them directly. But make it clear how you’re special, how you’re different. Differentiation and preference will lead to action and decision in your favor. Key Strategies For Effective Pipeline Execution Use a lead management system: At minimum, make sure you have a CRM system that integrates contacts, accounts and sales opportunities in one place. does a great job of this, but may be too much for small businesses. For smaller or early-stage organizations, I’d also recommend PipelineDeals or Highrise. You Clearly Define Lead And Opportunity Stages Define not only the stages your prospects go through (from the very beginning, nurture stages through to the sale), but also define your communication strategy at each stag— what do they get, how often, in what format, etc. Defining this up front will make decisions and actions both faster and more successful as you execute (especially if you have a team where common definitions are critical). Focus On Great Content Be remarkable. Be educational. Make yourself requiredreading for your prospects. Teach them how to do their jobs better, how to live their lives better. Great content, especially in today’s information-overload world, can be a powerful differentiator and attractor of new business to you. You Make It Easy For Prospects To Move Forward Give your prospects ample chances to “raise their hand” to move forward more actively into the buying stages. Create 7
  8. 8. offers that inherently mean they’re interested in moving forward—price estimator tools, free trials, buying guides, etc. Integrate these offers into your other content, putting the prospect in control of taking the next step. If you’re done your work up front—building value, differentiation, and preference—they’ll come to you to buy far more often. How To Organize And Communicate With Channel Partners Every business has partners, including a large number that are either current or prospective channels of new business. But not every partner is created equal. 3. Minimal production and/or minimally successful lead conversion Some are extremely important to your business, others aren’t as much but are nonetheless proactive referral sources. The combination of both scores then dictates the depth and frequency with which you might want to communicate with that partner. And these activities can be grouped together with partners that garner the same score. And there are multiple shades of grey in between. 4. Dark Most businesses we work with struggle to organize those partners in the first place, let alone Partner Ranking and Campaign Matrix determine and operationalize campaigns to keep those partners active and productive. 1. Proactive Importance (Quality Of Network/Introductions) 1. Elite channel to target prospects 2. Good/average channel to target prospects 3. Occasional match with target prospects 4. Minimal match with target prospects Productivity (Quantity/ Regularity Of Network/Introductions) 1. Proactive, proven regular communication and introductions 2. Reactive, responds when asked, handful of introductions 4. Dark Quarterly call Gist Twitter 1. Elite Importance To help (or at least to start), consider the partner matrix highlighted below. It allows you to effectively “score” current and prospective partners along two primary factors: Importance and Productivity. I use a four-point scale for each factor, with the following general definitions: Productivity 2. Reactive 3. Minimal Monthly meeting/call Bi-monthly call Gist Gist Twitter Twitter Monthly meetings Joint pipeline Gist Twitter Monthly calls Gist Twitter Quarterly call Gist Quarterly call 2. Good Bi-monthly meetings Joint pipeline Gist Twitter Quarterly meetings Gist Quarterly call Email only Email only Email only Email only Email only Email only 3. Occasional 4. Minimal All partners get periodic curated content email All partners eligible for one-off, contextual emails Manage Twitter & Linkedin updates via HootSuite Daily "New & Notable" emails from Gist Legend Importance (quality of network/introductions) 1. Elite channel to target prospects 2. Good/average channel to target prospects 3. Occasional match with target prospects 4. Minimal match with target prospects Productivity (quantity/regularity of network/introductions) 1. Proactive, proven regular communication and introductions 2. Reactive, responds when asked, handful of introductions 3. Minimal production and/or minimally successful lead conversion 4. Dark 8
  9. 9. How you decide to execute and act with each partner type in the matrix is up to you, and likely dependent on your business, industry and how you like to operate. But I bet scoring and organizing your partners in the first place will be a big first step, and likely help drive natural direction on what to do next. Lead Generation Modeling Made Simple Too many marketers don’t model how many leads they actually need to hit their organization’s sales goal. Those who do model often overdo it. • How many leads you need But you’ve got to do the math. Most of the time it boils down to answering just two questions: • How much those sales will cost via a paid lead generation campaign • How many sales will result (and with what bookings output) • How many opportunities are required to get a sale? • How many leads do you need to create a new opportunity? Let’s leave out sales cycle length for now, to keep things simple. Let’s just look at leads-to-opportunities-to-sales. And with that model, if the inputs are isolated and the lead/opportunity/sales figures are calculated with simple formulas, you can make adjustments to the inputs to see what the sales and/or revenue impact would be if you: • Generated more leads To build the model, you need a handful of inputs: • Increased the average sales price • Average sales price of a closed deal • Increased the percent of leads you can close • Percent of leads that turn into a new sales opportunity • Increased the percent of opportunities you can close • Percent of new sales opportunities that convert into a sale Start simple, but build this model and share it with your team. Discuss it with sales management. Get on the same page, and execute with more confidence that what you’re doing is leading directly to sales success. • Average cost per lead If you don’t know these figures explicitly, come up with a reasonable but somewhat conservative guess. With this input, you can build a model telling you: Improve Sales Forecast Accuracy With These Seven Steps A consistent weak point across sales organizations is their sales forecast. Yes, it’s difficult to predict which sales will close. But your forecast drives numerous decisions across the organization. And when forecasts are wrong, the implications go well beyond commission checks. To improve the quality and accuracy of your sales forecasts, starting immediately, I recommend the following seven steps. 1. Use Consistent Definitions If your entire sales team is working from a consistent set of definitions (i.e. what is a good lead, what is a qualified opportunity, etc.), then it’s easier to trust the data you have. If you look historically at your conversion rates—overall, by industry, by geography, by rep—it’s easier to predict conversion rates and new sales from a future pipeline of opportunities. The entire sales and marketing team needs to understand these definitions, and sales management needs to enforce their usage on a regular basis. 2. Know Your Sales Cycle Length If you get a good lead today, when will it likely close? This week? This quarter? This year? Many inaccurate sales forecasts get this one piece of data wrong, meaning your conversion rates are accurate but don’t take place in the window of time you assumed. You eventually get the revenue, but not at the time your organization was 9
  10. 10. expecting it. By building in a typical (or even conservative) sales cycle length into your model, you’re making it easier to map expected sales to the week, month, quarter or year in which they’re likely to land. 3. Read Market Changes (And Their Impact On Closing Behavior) The model you build last year might not work this year. If market conditions are weak, sales cycle length may have spread out. If budgets are tighter, an earlier decision maker may need permission from the CFO to take action now. These changes can wreak havoc on your sales forecast if you don’t anticipate, identify and adjust both behavior and expectations as a result. 4. Require A “Compelling Event” To Become An Opportunity It’s the right contact at the right company in an ideal market. They can surely benefit from your product or service. But do they want it? Is it a priority? Is there something internally that is driving urgency and prioritization of what you’re selling? Requiring a defined “compelling event” for new opportunities may reduce the volume of opportunities created, but it also increases the likelihood that those deals will close, which in turn makes your forecast far more accurate. 5. Conduct Regular Deal Reviews Sit down with your sales reps and walk through their pipelines. Not just names and numbers, but context. Ask for the back story, why they’re qualified, what the compelling event internally is that’s driving action. This isn’t about not trusting your reps. It’s about establishing a culture of accountability, learning and collaboration. Make these deal reviews about helping your reps brainstorm new ways of accelerating deals, establishing greater urgency with latent opportunities, and creating greater income opportunities for them personally. In the process, you’ll have a more intimate idea of the quality and accuracy of the pipeline. 6. Make Updating The Forecast Fast, Easy And Mandatory For Your Reps Opportunities change after they’ve entered the pipeline. Close dates move out. Or up. Deals that were on a fast track suddenly slow down, and perhaps should be moved back to an earlier stage. Most reps don’t want to make these changes to opportunities in their CRM system, as that may imply weakness in their own pipelines and selling skills. Instead, make it easy and mandatory to make these changes in real-time. Make it clear to the sales organization that these changes will help management improve selling conditions, and address real-time changes with the resources needed to close more business. 7. Reward Accuracy And Honesty Very few sales organizations reward pipeline performance and behavior. They compensate based on closed business, but not based on how close reps come to their forecasts. Create incentives for your reps to accurately forecast their expected sales. Foster an environment where honest changes to forecasts, even if the news isn’t good, is encouraged and rewarded. Would you really reward a rep for reducing their sales forecast? Absolutely. Imagine the alternative, that they led you to believe their output would be much higher when they knew they couldn’t deliver.   B U D GE T IN G F OR SU CCESS Six Marketing Focus Areas You’ll Want To Budget For In 2014 Last week we covered a handful of marketing budget line items that you might consider cutting without a significant impact to your performance and results. But if you aren’t simultaneously looking for the means to improve your results through new efforts, channels and strategies, you might be caught flat-footed when what used to work starts to decline, and you’re playing catch up without the money to fund it. From what we’re seeing deliver solid ROI for leading B2B marketing organizations today, as well as the focus areas we believe will continue to deliver high-leverage results in 2014, here are six strategies we recommend you consider for investment in your new budget: 1. Advocate Marketing Platform And Resources Think about the various constituent groups that could be more proactively delivering your message, offers and expanded word of mouth for your brand, products and services. Your most loyal, passionate customers just need the right nudges to help you spread the word. I’d encourage you to check out what Influitive is doing to create Advocate Hubs that are accelerating the mobilization of their happy customers, partners, employees and more. 10
  11. 11. 2. Content Strategy Content (and the tools/technology that organize and distribute it) has already become the most important asset marketers will work with in 2014 (more important than media). If you don’t have a content strategy, and the resources to execute it, you’ll spend way too much money replicating its replacement value to drive qualified leads to your sales team. Think carefully about the content you need in 2014, and budget the resources to create and capitalize on it. 3. Marketing Automation Support Too many companies buy their marketing automation platform and assume that’s enough. World-class lead management programs require four components to succeed: 1) strategy, 2) platform, 3) people and 4) content. Those last two are sorely underfunded, and are the primary reasons why many marketing automation efforts are less than successful. Think carefully about the people and content resources you need to fulfill the full ROI and pipeline growth potential of your marketing automation platform. 4. Influencer Engagement The funding you need here may very well be just a single person or a percentage of someone on your PR or marcomm team. But it’s on this list because, if you don’t dedicate the resources for it, you’ll never get the work done. Most companies engage the press and analysts, but few go the extra mile to engage the bloggers, Twitter users and other “social” influencers that, together, may have even greater reach and sway over your target market. These individuals are often easier to engage and build relationship with as well vs. crusty reporters who get pitched all the time. 5. Sales Enablement Tools Forward-thinking sales reps are already doing this for themselves. They’re using tools such as OFunnel, Newsle and others to filter the noise and find for themselves buying signals from their existing networks. They’re using ToutApp to get real-time alerts when prospects engage with their follow-up emails. But marketing groups are increasingly playing a proactive role in providing a set of sales enablement tools that help their sales counterparts increase productivity, efficiency and output. 6. Social Lead Generation The budget required here is almost exclusively for technology, but the output is pure lead generation. With social, the media is free. But it’s like the best library of buying signals in the world with all the books on the floor. Tools such as Socedo, SocialBro, LinkedIn Sales Navigator, GaggleAMP and Papershare can help you mine the social web for qualified leads at a fraction of the cost of other paid media. At minimum, budget for a series of tests of these and other platforms in early 2014 to validate their leadproducing potential. How To Write A Marketing Budget Your CFO Will Enthusiastically Support Ah, the fall. Changing weather and leaves. College football. Baseball’s postseason. And annual budget time! If you’re on a calendar fiscal year, you know what I’m talking about (and probably wince every time you hear that word). For many companies, annual budgeting is a painful process of back-and-forths, arguments about priorities and endless spreadsheet revisions I can’t promise these ideas will make all of that go away, but if you want a less painful process this year, my best piece of advice is to build a budget that your CFO will understand and agree with from the get-go. Here are seven specific best practices to get there. 1. Ask For Organizational Goals Up Front I can’t tell you how many times I see marketing leaders develop a plan and budget without any context for the business or division’s overall goals. What are your revenue targets next year? How about net-new sales, margin, customer retention and other key business metrics? How can you write a marketing plan and budget without knowing what everything is building towards? This step alone will help you align your priorities with those of your CFO and others. 2. Get Sales Buy-In First Before taking your plan and budget to the CFO, run it by your sales counterparts. Make sure they understand how vital your plan is to helping them hit their number next year as well. If you can go back to the CFO together, saying jointly that these efforts are required to hit and exceed sales goals, you’re in far better shape to justify and keep what you’re asking for. 11
  12. 12. 3. Cut Unsuccessful Line Items From Last Year (And Explain Why) If you keep everything from last year by default, it’s far too easy to assume that you’re just doing a “land grab” for more money. Even if you had a great year, I’m sure there were initiatives that didn’t pass muster or deliver the results you had hoped. As a way of making your plan both more efficient and credible, cut any items that were unsuccessful, highlight that in your plan and clarify why. This will also serve to demonstrate the rationale you likely used to justify any additions to the plan for the coming year. 4. Organize By Business Objective (Instead Of Marketing Function) Most marketing budgets are organized in a way that lacks clarity for the CFO. It may be easier for you and your team to manage input and areas by sorting them by your org chart or primary functions, but it’s far easier for the CFO and other members of the management team to justify your budget if its organized by business objective. This won’t work for everything, but at minimum you should be able to sort certain initiatives by sales, customer retention, etc. 5. Project Results Wherever Possible (Revenue, Not Just Spend) Most marketing budgets focus entirely on costs. And even if you couch everything in terms of the overall business objectives they support, it’s far better to project precisely what results you expect from any new budget requests. Better yet, create a mini ROI calculator inside your budget so that any negative impact of cuts are clear. 6. Make Future Expenditures Contingent On Early Success It’s tempting to ask for everything up front. But in today’s fast moving markets, it’s also difficult to accurately predict what you’ll really need in the second half of next year. Rather than propose a firm budget for the full calendar year, identify certain line items that are contingency on early success. This can be defined as success in early marketing objectives or success in overall business performance. But either way, this makes your “core” budget request more manageable and demonstrates that the bigger number won’t come into play unless it’s justified by performance. 7. Tie Staff Bonuses To Sales Performance, Not Marketing Tactic Completion I’m not talking about commissions. Most marketing teams have bonuses built into their budgets already. But in most cases, they get paid if the marketing objectives or tasks are completed no matter how sales performs. This year, consider tying marketing bonuses to broader company performance. At minimum, tie your demand generation team’s bonus to sales opportunity growth and/or closed business. Tie the retention team’s bonus to churn reduction or growth of lifetime value. Plan And Budget For Data Hygiene In 2014 Data management and data hygiene are probably the most overlooked components to a successful marketing automation initiative, right after content. I recently learned of a large enterprise with marketing automation that was blacklisted by ISPs. The blacklist status effectively shuts down all outbound marketing efforts right as they are heading into Q4. This happened because of poor data management and data hygiene. It can happen to any organization with marketing automation. When it happens, heads roll because it impacts customer engagement and revenue. The audit process for getting off ISP blacklists isn’t easy. Can you imagine being responsible and for this with your organization? Building a plan with a budget can prevent these nightmare situations. Here Are Eye-Opening Stats On B2B Data Quality According to Sirius Decisions: • 25 percent of the average B2B database is inaccurate • 60 percent of companies surveyed had an overall data health scale of “unreliable” • 80 percent of companies have “risky” phone contact records • NetProspex reports in their 2013 State of Marketing Data • 64 percent of companies surveyed have “unreliable” data and 34 percent have “questionable” data • 61 percent of companies surveyed said 35 percent of their records were “incomplete” How do CMOs and Demand Generation Directors avoid getting their companies blacklisted? How do Modern Marketers ensure over 90 percent email deliverability month 12
  13. 13. after month? How do companies maintain CAN-SPAM Act compliance? What sources of data are used to build, maintain, and append the database? How do marketing automation teams keep out the spam traps and keep the good contact records up to date? These are mission-critical questions that need a plan. Operating without a plan puts marketing operations, reputation, and revenue at risk! Here Are Steps To Consider As The Starting Point For Effective Management Establish A Data Management Strategy Do you have a data strategy? Chances are you don’t. Build the strategy and business case that a budget will support. A marketing automation platform needs regular health checks and ongoing maintenance. Define the standards for complete records and manage how the database grows and where records come from. Define the minimum standards for deliverability rates. Establish requirements for data providers. Marketing Automation and CRM platforms need regular updates, health checks, de-dupes, and data appends. A database will have a natural decay of contact data because people change jobs, companies go out of business, and mergers happen. All of these events directly impact the effectiveness of a database. Keeping the database healthy is strategic to maintaining a strong revenue pipeline. Check Your Database For A Baseline Of Health Get a database health scan before implementing the strategy or randomly buying tools or hiring consultants. A good health check should identify spam traps and determine record completeness at a minimum. Don’t forget to check phone records as well. Find a reputable organization like Unlock The Inbox, Reachforce or NetProspex to conduct a health scan for a baseline assessment. Budget For Data Hygiene in 2014 Imagine the situation where in July 2014 your email deliverability tanks to 80 percent and pipeline opportunities decline. Not fun, right? Data hygiene is an investment that builds marketing automation effectiveness and drives revenue! Investments are typically needed to for tools and services regularly clean out spam traps, update and append data records, and perform detailed de-duplication. CRM and marketing automation platforms have some basic tools for de-duplication and there are often free utilities or connectors that can serve as temporary solutions. Finding service providers and platforms that can enhance the free tools are a prudent step, especially when starting a clean-up process. Maintain Regular Maintenance And Updates A database is like a car. Regular maintenance keeps the machine running smoothly and efficiently with the best performance. Here are just some of the items to monitor and manage: Deliverability—anything below 90 percent is a red flag. Why are messages not delivered? Opportunity pipeline growth—Are conversions and opportunities decreasing? Many factors go into this but even the best content and campaigns will fall flat without a healthy database. Reputable data sources and partners—We all get the spam emails from the offshore list brokers that offer segmented B2B contacts for pennies on the dollar. Don’t. Do. It. Chances are cheap lists are loaded with questionable contacts scraped from websites by offshore sweatshops. Monitor the soft email bounces—are they increasing over time? Why are soft bounces happening? Monitor sender scores using services like ReturnPath. This is especially critical for marketing organizations using dedicated IP addresses for outbound marketing. The higher a sender score, the better the reputation which helps ISP’s monitor and allow emails from trusted sources. Prevent duplicate records—Use de-duplication platforms like RingLead whenever importing new data, or when performing regular updates. This keeps records clean and can merge duplicate records in the CRM or marketing automation platform. Append and update records—Keep records up to date with a data provider to ensure the proper taxonomy, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, and syntax are correct. Segment old records—Don’t delete old or outdated records completely. Place old records in a quarantine or sandbox that is kept away from marketing and sales operations. Even after de-duplication and data append, old records may be needed for an audit or opportunity research. Contact cadence and governance—Who can send outbound communications, when, how often, and who receives the messages? Set a clear policy that the entire organization understands. CAN SPAM—Does your marketing operations team understand CAN SPAM requirements for the US? What about Canadian and EU requirements? Ignorance is not the same as innocence when trouble arises. The US Federal Trade Commission offers these guidelines for compliance. Plan Wisely Data management and hygiene is strategic and helps keep marketing automation and demand generation running strong. Putting off the health checks and maintenance can directly impact revenue opportunities, customer engagements, and reputations. 13
  14. 14. Six Places To Cut Budget (Without Impacting Results) Whether your budget from this year is being challenged for next year, you need to make room for new initiatives, or if you’re simply (and smartly) looking for ways to cut lessefficient initiatives out of your marketing strategy in 2014 without significantly impacting results, here are six places you might want to explore. They maintained the focus and science behind their content strategy and actually improved social sharing and pass-along, all while eliminating a significant chunk of their content marketing budget. Third-party writers are great, but only as a supplement to the ideas and direct contributions of people already inside and around the business. Each of these, if executed well, can clearly still generate material results. But I’ve found they can also be the source of some of the most excessive waste in B2B marketing organizations of various sizes and industries. 4. Trade Shows 1. PR It continues to surprise me how many companies assume by default that they need a PR agency. I know some amazing PR professionals and agencies, but there are too many others that will take a ton of your money and not deliver much in return. Furthermore, there’s a difference between having a PR strategy and hiring a PR agency. That plus PR has changed significantly from the days when the press was your primary conduit to get news, commentary and other information to your prospects to build awareness, interest and preference. Many companies find they can put more focus on their content and social strategies to get the same awareness, traffic and inbound lead impact without the glut of press releases and PR fees. 2. Paid Search Buying clicks from Google can still help you make a ton of money, but most companies are spending far more than they need to. They manage their paid search programs in aggregate, and aren’t optimizing their programs down to individual keywords and keyword groups, plus measuring impact of clicks through to the sale, to understand which clicks are profitable and which are not. You may find, for example, that some of your least expensive keywords aren’t converting into business at all. So if you’re managing your spend based on cost per lead, and getting excited about that 50 percent reduction in CPL you’ve achieved so far in 2013, you may still be losing and wasting money. 3. Blog Contributors The new CEO of a company in Seattle immediately shut off all budget to third-party writers for their blog. He challenged his marketing team to find 10 people, anywhere in and around the business, who could commit to writing one blog post a month. And they did it, within four days. A couple people in marketing, a couple developers, a board member, the CEO himself, etc. You don’t need to be there just to be there. And your trade show strategy isn’t the booth plan, either. You can work an event, conference or trade show without being there. You can also send a couple people to set up meetings or work the hallways, get a ton of business done, and without locking people into booth duty and tens of thousands of dollars. Events are channels. A booth is one of many ways to leverage that channel. If your target customer is aggregating together somewhere, take advantage. But there are countless ways to do it more cost effectively than the traditional booth set-up. 5. Focus Groups Customer, prospect and market feedback is critical. And sometimes focus groups can help get you that feedback. But the social Web is a daily, real-time feedback mechanism. So are your most loyal customers. Why not invest in an advocate marketing program, set up with a platform such as Influitive, to not only manage and drive greater participation from your customers but actively seek more of their feedback? Or, check out what ProdThink is doing. They’re offering a real-time platform for capturing product interest, triaging product priorities, and offering a dynamic environment for anyone to play with and evaluate new features. Does it replace the focus group? No. But it can deliver some of the same results faster and at a fraction of the cost. 6. Recruiting Fees The more narrow your criteria, the more important recruiters can be. And lord knows finding the right person can make a huge difference, and justify the recruiter’s fees many times over. But if you’re not actively using LinkedIn to find candidates, you’re missing a huge opportunity to leverage your existing network to ferret out viable candidates. Job postings require applicants to respond. But in a tight market, your best candidates may not be looking. Filter your search based on seniority, role, skill sets and more. Then ask your connections to make introductions where needed. You’ll be surprised how many top candidates you’ll find in less than 15–20 minutes. 14
  15. 15.   MA R K E T IN G AUTOMATION Get Your Marketing Automation Initiative Back On Track For 2014 Marketing automation initiatives have tremendous potential. However many companies under perform after just a few months of platform usage and there are many reasons for the letdown. As we approach 2014 now is the time to plan for getting the initiative back on track. Here Are Common Causes For A Marketing Automation Initiative Falling Short Of Expectations 1. No defined demand generation strategy. 2. Weak leadership and missing executive sponsorship. 3. Overselling how quickly marketing automation will deliver results, and missing what the results will be. 4. Failure to correctly integrate marketing automation with CRM. 5. Limited focus on training internal resources to build internal operating experience. 6. Using marketing automation as an overpowered email blast engine with no nurturing, scoring, or inbound marketing configuration. 7. Failure to measure metrics that matter, and effectively communicate results. 8. Complete lack of a content marketing strategy for any campaign efforts. 9. Not holding the marketing automation vendor accountable for successful start-up and ongoing support. Get Your Marketing Automation Initiative Back On Track With These Important Steps 1. Define The demand Generation Strategy And Objectives First What are the revenue goals for 2014? What is the overall plan to meet those goals? How will demand generation map to major events throughout the year? What 2. 2B Marketing Involves Marketing To People B People are emotional and sometimes follow seemingly irrational paths through the famous Buyer’s Journey. Use marketing automation to support a process that provides the right information, at the right time, to the right people. 3. Process Design Marketing Automation is a process enabler that supports a bigger strategy. Marketing automation is not a strategy in itself. Build the strategy with the desired outcomes. The process should support the strategy. This is where the definitions of leads and opportunities come into play. 4. ocus On The Metrics That Matter F What is the required Marketing contribution for leads for the upcoming year? How many Marketing Qualified Leads flow into Opportunities and Closed Sales? Focus on the metrics that matter. Don’t send your CEO the email report on email open rates and click through rates. That data is meaningless if you can’t track contributions to revenue, the sales funnel, and overall leads delivered to sales. 5. Gap Analysis Evaluate the gaps where your org falls short with demand gen and marketing automation. Look at everything with the Process, Platform, People and Content. Plan how to fill the gaps in order to support the demand generation strategy. 6. eadership—Quit Being The Tail On The Dog L Too often a demand generation strategy is left to a manager level marketing resource with limited support. The people in these situations react to situations instead of operating with a plan. Make sure your people have the leadership to work with Sales, communicate the results, and stay on track with the demand generation strategy. 7. eople—Invest In Your Most Important Resource P Marketing automation gives the impression with the name alone that marketing can be automated. Don’t even go there and don’t let Sales or other CxO’s believe that for a minute. Marketing automation is hard and requires an ongoing effort of continually building knowledge and skills on the technology, understanding how to engage customers, developing content, and building processes. People need training to keep initiatives running efficiently and effectively over the course of the year. 8. old Your Marketing Automation Vendor H Accountable. Time and again I hear from a marketing VP or a marketing operations manager that their marketing automation vendor has left implementations and onboarding incomplete. The vendor’s customer success manager has too many accounts and they only contact each customer once a month, if that. And too often clients get the suggestion “have you checked our blog/ 15
  16. 16. knowledgebase/outdated support portal?” This is unacceptable. Your marketing automation vendor should proactively work with you provide you with the plan to lead towards your success and self-sufficiency. To be fair, blaming your marketing automation vendor for all that ails your demand generation is unacceptable as well. 9. atabase Health—Get Your House In Order D 2014 will be the year database health becomes a strategic imperative for marketing automation. I have heard of several enterprise organizations with marketing automation that have been blacklisted by ISP’s for poor email practices resulting from dirty database data. Reputation and revenue are at stake with a dirty database. This is no longer 2002 when a cluttered database is acceptable. Plan for data hygiene in 2014 or lose your job! 10. Content—Wake Up! No more excuses in 2014 for a lack of content. Content fuels how you engage with customers through any channel and especially with marketing automation. Without content, campaigns don’t have any story to tell. Without content, you’re dead in the water with any demand generation effort. Just Do it! Don’t be that marketing team that uses marketing automation as an overpowered email blaster in 2014. Now is the time to build and execute a demand generation strategy the right way with marketing automation. How are you planning to evolve and improve your marketing operations in 2014? 16
  17. 17. More Information About Us About Matt Heinz Matt Heinz is the Founder and President of Heinz Marketing Inc. Matt brings more than 12 years of marketing, business development and sales experience from a variety of organizations, vertical industries and company sizes. His career has focused on delivering measurable results for his employers and clients in the way of greater sales, revenue growth, product success and customer loyalty. About Heinz Marketing Heinz Marketing is a Seattle marketing agency focused on sales acceleration. Heinz Marketing helps clients achieve sustained sales success by growing revenue from existing customers and cost effectively identifying and winning new customers. Contact Heinz Marketing Heinz Marketing Inc. 8201 164th Ave NE, Suite 200 Redmond, WA 98052 877.291.0006 Learn More About Heinz Marketing Interested in learning more creative ways to make the most of your marketing?: Request your FREE 10-minute brainstorm at Join our newsletter: Check out our blog: Follow Matt on Twitter: 8201 164th Ave. NE, Suite 200 Redmond WA 98052 Ph. 877.291.0006