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Hello and welcome to this week’s edition of the Exit Five Weekly Email, a weekly note with B2B marketing lessons & observations, fueled by the community at Exit Five (a private community of ~3,500 marketing pros).

Join us at exitfive.com if you're not already a member.


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Building Credibility Internally For Long Term Projects

Last week I talked about how the greatest things take a lot of time, and consistent, good work to be great. You can see that newsletter here if you missed it.

You can’t only work on these projects though…we report to a CEO and a board after all. 

You have to hit existing goals, while you build longer time-scale projects to bear fruit in the future. AND you will have to justify these long-term projects for a while before they “work.” People might be critical, and it’s your job to stave off doubt. 

I got some requests to write about how to build the credibility to continue using resources for projects that aren’t working yet.

Here are my thoughts:

Have a Rock Solid Plan, and Deliver

The best way to build trust is to create a rock solid plan, deliver on that plan, and hit your goals. That’s the baseline.

I've talked about this before - the marketing plan itself should support the most important things to the business at any give time (usually new ARR). 

If your strategy will make the business win, and you constantly share how you/your team are following through on plans and promises, that’s a great start. 

Great communicators start with the end in mind - here’s the end goal, here’s our plan to get there, here’s how we’re pacing. 

Divide Up Resources for Now and Later 

When you have a big number to hit NOW, it’s tempting to look at your whole budget/team as the way you’ll get there. And certainly much of your budget (incl. headcount) needs to be earmarked for driving immediate results.  

But, every quarter, make sure some program spend/employee time is allocated to things that will pay off in the future. It might be helpful to come up with a ratio for yourself as a starting point, and iterate over time, i.e. 80% pipe for this and next quarter, 20% brand/future projects (if you’re doing something like this please respond to this email with how you break it down, curious to learn!) 

This should not be hard to convince your company of… the growth multiples in SaaS are so insane that if you don’t do this, and you focus every dollar on “the now,” you probably won’t be able to hit your goal even next year. 

The CEO and CFO would rather have the marketing leader in place who invests in future momentum today - the business won’t run out of steam mid-year, and CAC will remain reasonable.

Track and Share Leading Indicators (Humbly)

Say you’re building a community and the ultimate idea is for that to be a sustainable source of revenue in the future. 

Initially, it will not drive revenue. You’ll be talking about softer stuff like new member #s, and how engaged people were on a recent webinar. It’s good to be sharing these wins, but you’ll lose credibility if those are positioned too strongly. Everyone will raise an eyebrow and think "Is that good/is that the goal?"

When the folks at Terminus started Flip My Funnel they kept having to defend their investment, because it wasn’t “sourcing” revenue on its own for a while. 

However, many of their largest deals were engaging with the community in some way before closing…An outcome like this definitely should be communicated as a leading indicator of progress and traction toward an end goal. 

Create a Plan For Pulling The Plug (In Advance Of Actually Having To)

One way to give other executives peace of mind could be to agree on a plan in advance of when to pull the plug - that could look a number of ways, and you can't predict the future, but basically say early on: here's the long term project, here's the ultimate goal, it will take X dollars to make it happen, and if we're not seeing ~Y outcomes by the end of 18 months we'll pull the plug. 

If everything else is going well, you'll have leeway to update your thinking as you see things unfold - maybe the first predictions of success indicators aren't as important as something you didn't expect. That's fine. Update your parameters, and get buy-in again from other leaders. 

If nothing else, this will signal to others that you're thinking critically about this, and demonstrate that you're not tied to this project for the sake of doing it, but that the outcomes are most important to you. 

Internal Communication, and Context

Peter Manhoney and I talked about this a while back - internal communication should be incredibly intentional. 

What you need to do is: clearly, in the simplest, most straightforward possible way communicate what you're doing, what the value is and how that relates to what's important to the business.

If the most important near-term goal is Y, your primary message should be about what you’re doing today to get there. Focus on near term first and most, and share future focused projects in a less emphasized way at the end. Basically, there's a balance - you want to communicate about future stuff, but not at the expense of the most important thing.

Communication Generally In Marketing Leadership

You must be a top notch communicator if you want to be a good CMO or marketing leader. You need to be strong in-person, over Zoom, on video, and in writing. Great communication gets you so much of the way there when it comes to building credibility. 

Marketing is one of the most misunderstood operations inside of a company and if you aren't able to control the narrative, show what you're working on, and articulate why it matters, you'll end up with the status quo: "my company has no idea what marketing should be doing."

Clear, confident and compelling communication internally is one of the reasons I was able to advance my career quickly. I didn't realize it at the time, but it matters a lot. More than me knowing CAC to LTV and MQL this and that. You can be the greatest operator behind the scenes but as the marketing leader it all means nothing if you can't communicate to your peers and team.

Every time you’re in front of the team, you should be sharing progress toward marketing goals and what you’re doing to hit those goals. I challenge everyone to never discuss a tactic without also reminding everyone what strategic purpose the tactic serves.

Some ideas to help get you started:

  • Get the book "Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs" by Carmine Gallo
  • Get the book "Public Speaking for Authors, Creatives, and Other Introverts" by Joanna Penn
  • Find 2-3 great public speakers (YouTube) and try to take your own notes re-creating their talk and their outline
  • Start with something simple: Even if you do not run a full team today- is there an area of the business / marketing you can own and communicate about? Work on writing a weekly update to your manager every Friday - here's what we got done this week, here's what we're working on next week, here's what's working, here's what's not, here's where we're stuck. This be an email or a 2-3 slide presentation with a Loom video.

Hope you are having a productive week.

- Dave

PS. if you read these notes, can you reply back and say hey? I love getting responses from Exit Five newsletter readers.


🎧 Podcast #92:Content Strategy, B2B SEO in 2023, and Category Creation Content with Mitch Briggs

Mitch Briggs is a B2B SEO expert and SEO Success Manager at Demandwell. We cover a lot in this episode, including:
  • B2B content strategy
  • Is SEO dying!!?
  • What the future of SEO looks like
  • Where TikTok, YouTube, and ChatGPT fit
  • How to think about SEO if you're creating a category
  • Gow to balance volume and intent with keywords
  • Ways to think about keyword research, and more.

Listen To The Episode Now On Spotify


Join the Exit Five Community

Please join us in the new home for Exit Five (and our dedicated iOS + Android app). We have officially moved our community to Circle - our own private community on the web, with a dedicated mobile app for iOS and Android. It's bumping over there already and I've been loving the feedback from members so far.

Here's a video overview from me breaking down the new Exit Five community. You can join the community right now for free with a 7 day free trial and then choose monthly or annual billing (or to not join) after your trial. Hope to see you in there.

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Thanks to the 2023 Exit Five presenting sponsors Demandwell (SEO) and Zapier (Automation).


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