Whether you’re just starting out, you’ve been doing this for a while, or you’re onboarding a complex marketing automation (MA) system or other MarTech, executing on your strategy and showing results is a non-negotiable imperative.
There are so many moving parts that it’s easy to become overwhelmed and lose track of two critical elements: the what and the why. Trying to understand the complex linkage of systems and processes, and how they work together and deliver on the strategy of your marketing plan, can also cloud the picture and send you into a tailspin.
You often hear, “Start with the end in mind.” This isn’t a bad strategy, but many times just figuring out the first area of focus, and how to attack it, is the most difficult.
Find the biggest bang for the buck
Try thinking about it this way instead: If you only executed a full 100% on a single piece of your overall strategy, which piece would be the most impactful? As you begin to execute on this initial and deliberately narrow imperative, the next steps become clearer, and you don’t corner yourself into a rigid plan that — with all good intentions — was flawed from the beginning.
For example, I recently worked with a client that was fanatically focused on lists, contacts, and segmentation. When you lifted the hood, however, their biggest business issue was that they had a new sales staff and very few leads. They weren’t really generating many campaigns, though, and the messaging strategy and target personas weren’t in place. The answer seemed simple: Get more contacts and generate more campaigns in order to get sales more leads.
The reality was, though, that they simply didn’t have the content to market their product to the contacts they were acquiring. In addition, the engine to process and deliver high-quality leads to sales wasn’t ready, and they hadn’t devised a strategy to improve lead quality by nurturing low-quality leads or using the data they had to improve their target conversions. Furthermore, visibility into what was working (e.g., conversion rates), along with the ability to make ongoing adjustments, was not in place.
This didn’t mean they were in a hopeless situation. While getting the top of funnel moving was key, the focus beyond that immediate issue was actually more impactful. Think about what would have happened if they had generated a ton of leads, but they were all junk. Or they couldn’t get those leads over to sales in an agreed-to process. They would have lost a lot of money, momentum, and marketing street cred, that’s what.
Break down the complexity and narrow your focus
As you embark on your next project, be careful not only to avoid focusing on the wrong tasks, but also the panacea approach of trying to tackle everything at once. If you’re really thirsty, you don’t chug an entire gallon of water. Doing so can make you sick. The same goes for the pressure to get everything done right this second.
Go to the primary source of the pain, prescribe the most impactful but immediate remedy, and then execute and craft the rest of the steps from there. Common elements that overlap with your initial step will present themselves, and you can use these evolving overlaps to gain momentum and speed of execution. Also, remember to be flexible and expect your plan to evolve as you execute and make course corrections. Use a “good enough” strategy to get started, knowing that what was good enough to start with will change as you gain momentum…and that’s perfectly okay!
Manage expectations early on
In the race to show results, the pressure from above can paint you into a corner. If you don’t simplify your efforts to the most impactful, and you set expectations too high, you can do a lot of damage.
This doesn’t mean you should sandbag the effort altogether or underpromise to manage expectations. Simplifying the complex will require more effort to educate others on what to expect and why starting simple can be even more effective.
It is just as important to identify what you won’t be producing in these first steps as it is to focus on what you are going to accomplish. I like to use the analogy of a smoldering fire. Some of this stuff is going to continue to smolder, but we won’t be putting water on it during this first phase. We are going to aim our efforts at the real flames.
Be sure to educate your team and set expectations early with this strategy in mind.
Enlist help when you need it
In the increasingly complex world of digital marketing, the ability to focus on what is most impactful is key. Sometimes, however, there just aren’t enough hours in the day.
Our experienced consultants and technical gurus can help you bridge the gap between creativity, strategy, and execution, so you can focus on the bigger picture. We offer a number of services that give digital marketers a leg up by providing best practices and strategies along with the execution needed to maximize your return on marketing technology investments.
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.