The digital marketing space is a very noisy place to be right now, as enterprises transform their businesses to meet the requirements of market growth. Figuring out how to leverage the plethora of strategies and technologies being thrown around can be a challenge.
Over the past several years, the way marketing projects are executed has undergone some change. Because of all this new technology, teams have needed heavy doses of learning and strategic development before they could begin to execute. You’d spend six months cultivating, then get your projects staged out in a linear fashion, and THEN start to execute. But that approach could backfire: you could be trapped either by not showing success quickly enough or by focusing so much on how to execute that you forgot about fitting your tactical projects into your overall strategy. On top of all that, the pace of business has picked up; what you learn to do today is not what you will need to be doing a year from now.
So, you can panic – or you can embrace the noise! An iterative approach that outlines a high-level strategy and is highlighted with short-term tactical successes – essentially, strategy and sprints — is the key to finding success in the vast array of digital marketing technologies, strategies, and solutions.
The near-term strategy followed by a sprint of hands-on execution will allow you to demonstrate quick wins along the way, gaining buy-in and giving you the chance to adjust the plan as you go. Instead of a 50-mile rainbow across the horizon, plan the first 10 feet and paint that. You can have a strategic plan that might go out two years, then execute sections of it 90 days at a time.
This style of agile development has been working well in engineering for several years. This approach works for businesses just entering the digital marketing space, as well as those with more evolved strategy. The new entries need an iterative approach for quickly evolving strategy, while the more mature business can benefit from the quick-win scenario. The more mature your enterprise becomes, the more you’ll need to promote tangible successes inside of an overarching strategy. Too much strategy without execution can cause confusion and makes it difficult for cross-company functions to buy in. The more evolved your strategy, the more you will depend on outside functions to execute this strategy. Give them something to grab onto, and iterate your way to educate, execute, and demonstrate successes along the way!
Marketing strategy has often been highly conceptual with a seed of execution – far from an engineering-based model – but now our technology allows us to benefit from that same style of development. As a result, Marketing is starting to become responsible for large development projects, where multiple systems are needed. For example, I talked with an enterprise client the other day who is finishing up a large integration project. She said, “I ended up owning a project that had five developers and several IT functions, and I’ve never done a software development project in my life!”
Some additional points to ponder:
- Ensure visibility. Make sure to set expectations and share those quick wins; if nobody sees the need, they may not understand the value. Use clear and iterative project plans that identify what success will look like along the way. Leverage dashboards that make sense of marketing analytics and outline critically important metrics that show progress and value… and keep it simple. It’s always easy to make things more complex later.
- Bite off what you can chew. Marketing has always been pressured to prove its worth with more leads, better leads, or whatever today’s goal is. But building a Formula One race car on your first run may be overkill; maybe you should get a feel for the road in a Volkswagen before you start running along at 200 mph! Start with simple goals in mind and short steps that will execute components of your overall strategy – don’t go too big too soon.
- Be consistent. Think about your strategy as a swim meet. Each swim lane is dedicated to a specific segment of your strategy with a healthy amount of execution. But obviously, you can’t run a swim competition if everyone jumps in the pool all at once. You need a consistent approach with wins along the way to capture the picture of what success looks like. I like the swim lane approach to demonstrating how each piece of the strategy will be executed in an overall project model. One swim lane may focus on systems and integrations while another may focus on messaging and getting to your first campaign. Too much detail can be a bad thing when you are in the process of getting several functions to help execute multiple segments of your overall Marketing strategy.
Of course, DemandGen is your expert in making sense of this noise and finding that perfect balance of strategy and execution. We do this every day for some of the world’s largest and most complex enterprises, and we’d like to do it for you, too. Contact us.
As DemandGen’s Chief Operating Officer, Greg Carver brings nearly thirty years of operations experience in the high-tech and enterprise software industry. As a strategic operator, Greg has consistently proven success as a turn-around executive, change agent and catalyst in taking technology companies to the next level. He is a hands-on customer champion with a passion for building a culture of exceptional client relationships and experiences. As an innovative mentor and determined leader, Greg’s devotion to hard work and team building translates to company success.