1. Understand where you are today
Your marketing objectives need to be ambitious, yet attainable. Unrealistic goals are likely to result in having to play catch-up from the start, which can be detrimental and discouraging in the early days. At the same time, objectives that are set too low, pose the risk you are missing out on growth potential. It is key to spend some time to evaluate the current position of your marketing. Take 4-5 key performance indicators of your marketing in 2016 into account and score how you performed on each of them. If you over performed, don’t be afraid to raise the bar. If you come across indicators that you didn’t reach, identify the reasons for failure and try to solve any issues.
Finally, get an understanding of your business objectives and assess how marketing can support these. Set new or additional KPI’s if necessary, and replace insignificant or irrelevant ones so that you end up with 5 marketing performance indicators for 2017. At this stage, focus on doing the right things instead of trying to do everything the right way.
2. Visualize what success looks like
Athletes who picture themselves crossing the finish line first are far more likely to do it. Visualization of success stimulates the same brain regions as actually attaining it and is a simple technique to help your brain know what to look out for. It will also help you identify any obstacles you may encounter beforehand. And thirdly, visualizing success will make it much more easy to communicate your vision to others and get their buy-in.
3. Communicate your vision constantly
Whether your marketing team consists of 20 people or if it is just a one-person show (you!), you will always need buy-in from others to your vision. Communicate your vision constantly across your organisation, both to your team members, external partners and suppliers as well as senior management and board members to get buy-in, focus and budgets. In your presentations, evaluations, planning sessions, meetings and even during coffee machine talks, always make the connection of where you want your marketing to go and where you are now, by outlining concrete steps to take.
4. Break it down
Make your core marketing objectives SMART and measurable and break them down into milestones and supporting objectives. Start with the end goal and then work backwards. Milestones will help to stay on track short term while supporting objectives can be delegated to specific team members. Evaluate progress regularly, at least once per quarter, and be honest about the results. Plan for some mistakes and missed short term targets, as these will happen. That’s ok. Stay flexible and and at least try to make a learning experience from each mistake.
5. Integrate it upwards and horizontally
Make senior staff members in your organisation understand how your marketing objectives support the overall business. Sit down with sales teams to understand their challenges and pains. Strike the right balance between raising brand awareness, getting more qualified leads in the pipeline, increasing current conversion rates, nurturing programs as well as marketing to your existing customer base. Sales teams are often focused on hot leads and nett new business targets. For any company to grow, it is key to retain existing customers. Moreover, the cost of selling additional products or services to current clients is significantly lower. If a war for talent is holding back your organization’s growth, then also talk to HR how you can help to market your brand to the labour market.
6. Leverage advocates & ambassadors
Companies that actively engage in social selling, generate significantly more sales leads and record higher revenue growth than companies that don’t. Nowadays, anyone can be an advocate, ambassador or influencer, from any staff members to customers, partners and industry thought-leaders. Successful brands consider influencer relations and employee advocacy as an integrated part of their marketing as opposed to an add-on. For any marketing activity you undertake, try to identify who can help share your message to a wider audience.
7. Stay focused
Identify the qualities of each of your team members including yourself, and have each of them focus on the areas where they are most skilled. Remember that competence follows preference, and people like to do things they are good at. If specific staff members need to operate outside of their comfort zone, make sure you empower them to do so. As for yourself, delegate as much as you can and try to only do the things where you can make a difference. At the start of your marketing program, apply the 80-20 rule by focusing on 20% of tactics that will drive 80% of your objectives.
As with any checklist, the objective is not just to tick the boxes but genuinely think about your approach. If you have any thoughts or feedback, please feel free to leave them in the comments.