Marketing is often under a microscope. Add in the dimensions of new challenges presented by our present situation and you get rising tensions and questions coming from every corner of the remote office. Regardless of whether you have an impatient CEO, a nervous head of finance, a curious board of directors, a hand-ringing sales team or the likely mix of all the above, you’re under pressure to perform. And to do so quickly. Therefore, you need a clear direction that everyone can agree on.
Getting these individuals and departments to align on what’s most important can be a challenge as each comes with their own lens of what success looks like. However, in uncertain times, it’s imperative that marketing leaders use their toolkit to unify these groups by finding alignment and setting expectations for success that everyone can agree on. At the end of the day, it’s important to know that you’re working toward the same end goals — even if you have different ways of getting there.
First and foremost, it’s important to identify who should be included in your goal-setting team. Consider all roles for which marketing provides crucial support; the CEO and the heads of finance, product, sales, customer success and operations, or equivalent roles, all come to mind. People like to be asked their opinions, and involving other purviews brings new perspectives that will only add benefit both in the short and long term. However, keep in mind the fine line between bringing in the right opinions and having too many cooks in the kitchen. Pick the team who can align on business objectives that you will use to build marketing programs that ultimately will have their buy-in and support.
Before we jump into the areas to explore as a team on what Q2 and beyond can look like for your company, a reminder: data is your best friend.
Using data to align your teams
It’s hard to argue with the facts, especially when dealing with data-minded business leaders. Now more than ever, data is a marketer’s secret weapon and closest ally. Use your tools and tracking systems to help paint a picture of what is currently working and, just as importantly, what isn’t. Quickly identifying these areas for faster iterations on campaigns is a great way to get buy-in for your strategy going forward and ultimately achieve alignment with your stakeholders.
Also consider the varying data sets that commonly live outside of your purview with, for example, the customer success or finance teams. This is a great opportunity for you to work together as a goal-setting team to come up with the best ways to combine data sets for even more advanced findings.
As you’re considering the three recommendations below of analyzing your business, aligning on customers’ needs and setting expectations, try and find new ways to look at your data to identify trending patterns and varying audiences’ behavior to support your decisions. In these uncertain times, emotions can get in the way of making clear decisions. But as a marketer, you have the ability to align your team behind the numbers and define a lucid path forward. Use that as your superpower to get your team through this.
1. Analyze your business
It’s likely that when this all started, you stopped to take a look at what you offer and how it can be helpful in this time. If you didn’t already, you’re late to the game. If you did, it’s time to do it again — but this time as a goal-setting team.
In the rapidly changing environment we now inhabit, change is truly the only constant. With new developments leading to new challenges on a weekly, or even daily, basis, it’s likely that different product or service lines are now rising to the top as opportunities for your business.
Sit down with your teams and take a holistic look at what you offer. What is producing revenue now and what isn’t? Why? Look at all data points available to help you answer these questions. Analyzing the health of your business will help you to align on areas of opportunity as well as potential areas to pivot offerings.
Look at top-performing landing pages on your website or emails with the highest engagement. What messages are rising to the top? Are there certain audiences that are engaging more than others? Use this data to help inform internal conversations around what is happening in the marketplace, which in turn should inform your strategies going forward. Perhaps there’s a new service offering or product line you should be considering, or an industry segment that will make a positive swing in Q3 where you can provide value.
2. Align on customers’ needs
While most businesses are hoping the shake-ups are behind us, there’s no certainty on where we are in the curve of this market shift. Your marketing team should own prospect communication, but it’s important to align with your goal-setting team on a communications plan for current customers. Communication and further segmentation of your current client set shouldn’t stop after the initial touchpoint you likely had at the beginning of all this. Your communications plans should differ based on how your customers have been impacted and where you see your relationship with them headed in the future.
Work with your goal-setting team to identify the ways in which your customer set should be segmented. You may have customers who have increased, decreased or terminated their partnership with you all together. Regardless of their move, the conversation should not stop there. Look at the data available to identify any leading indicators of trends happening in your customer set and communicate with them appropriately by segmenting them according to their needs in this time. For example, looking at demographics such as industry, location, age or size of the company for all of your canceled or terminated clients can help you to identify trends as to what they’re facing now, and more importantly, what the future might hold. Taking into consideration how they’re individually being impacted will build bridges for your future relationship.
Don’t forget about the importance of anecdotal evidence, too. This is where bringing in the other departments helps paint the full picture of the current situation. Perhaps customer success is hearing something from the “front lines” or finance is getting another story on the back end. Maybe the CEO is talking to customers directly, or has additional insights that should be implemented into your goals around communications. While the numbers can help tell part of the narrative, when it comes to understanding your customer, make sure you’re hearing the full story before jumping to conclusions.
3. Set expectations together
Once all stakeholders can react to the same qualitative and quantitative data sets and formulate opinions around a knowledge base built together, making decisions on goals for Q2, Q3 and beyond becomes a lot easier. While this is not a “set-it-and-forget-it” methodology, returning to it as situations continue to evolve will keep you on a path toward incremental success, together.
Here are some KPIs to consider setting once you have aligned on the above:
- New business outreach strategies to specific demographics
- New vertical opportunities for additional research or testing
- Branding alignment to pivots or other business-level changes that address current markets needs
- New content or campaign deliverables based on successful programs
- Sales enablement support
- Current client activation program
This is not an easy task. As department heads, oftentimes we can be off and running in many different directions. Given that social distancing norms are leading to less in-person time, these varying directions can lead to disaster. As marketers, we have the opportunity to be leaders in this time by unifying our teams in a direction that makes sense for the business. Help take the reins by bringing in the right people and data to set a clear path forward. Your peers and colleagues will thank you for it.
At Walker Sands, we strategically partner with our clients to align business and marketing goals regardless of how impossible they seem. If you could use some support in orienting your team and setting a path for success in these challenging times, we’re here to help. Reach out to us here and mention this post for a free consultation.