Goals vs. Tactics
After spending 10 years working in B2B SaaS in marketing roles, as a CMO, and later advising startups in the space, hosting the Exit Five podcast and talking to hundreds of marketers through our community I know one thing almost for certain:
The #1 cause of marketing breakdown inside of a company is lack of clear GOALS.
Sounds silly and obvious right? Goals? Wow Dave, you're a genius! :)
But if you peel back a few layers it's almost always this.
I've found that so many challenges and issues in marketing success are rooted in the goal and how it relates back to the company goals. Usually the breakdown occurs there. The root cause is not the tactical day to day marketing efforts. It's almost always the goal and why and how we'll know it works and what is marketing focused on this quarter and why.
The marketing team is busy doing marketing stuff - blog, webinar, events, podcasts, sales collateral, co-marketing, paid, digital, website. And everyone one the team is busy .. but none of it is adding up to actual marketing results.
Stop doing this. You can change your marketing strategy at ANY TIME and stop this madness. Right now do a "Stop - Start - Continue" analysis with your team and figure out what is working / not working and trim the fat.
Go back to first principles:
- What are the company revenue goals for this year?
- How will marketing contribute to those goals?
- How we will measure our efforts in those areas?
Everything else beyond that (especially right now, when many companies are having a hard time growing) is noise. And look, I believe in the brand investments and investing in the future, but you don't get to do that unless you're hitting your goals TODAY.
And I also realize that marketing does not control all of the element here. You might be behind on a goal but the root cause is actually because your product is the wrong fit for this audience, or you're going after the wrong ICP, or maybe the product is not strong enough in one area or can't do XYZ or people don't know you exist.
Marketing must be able to INFLUENCE change across the organization and link sales + product. And all of this should be rooted in the company strategy, which then influences marketing's goals, the marketing org structure, and what your priorities should be right now.
Three good books to help you here:
1. Playing to Win - Alan Lafley & Roger Martin. A primer on business strategy. I don't know how you can do effective marketing for a company without understanding the company strategy. If your company does not have one, maybe you can help lead this exercise using this book.
2. The Next CMO - Peter Mahoney, Scott Todaro, Dan Faulkner. I don't think there's a better book out there on "operational excellence" if you'll need a playbook like this to influence change inside of your org.
3. Data-Driven Marketing - Mark Jeffery. There's more in this book than you'll need, but it gives you a great overview of how to think about measuring the effectiveness of marketing and what matters inside of a company.
Three books??? I don't have the time for that Dave ...
Well, let me tell you a secret: if you want to be great at something, you must put in the work. There's no 500 word blog post that's going to help you solve the issues your company is facing. There's no one podcast episode that will teach you business + marketing strategy and how they need to work together. There's no YouTube video that you can watch to become a great CMO. Like anything else in life, you do in fact have to put in the work. But the work becomes easier if you can see the light at the end of the tunnel and know what you're working toward. And this is a good place to start.
PS. yes I'm fired up this week! :)
Some Other Stuff For You
- B2B Content Strategy. My guest this week on the podcast is Devin Reed, head of content at Clari and previously head of content at Gong. We had a great conversation about developing a content strategy, what works today and more. Search Exit Five podcast on Spotify, Apple podcasts, everywhere you listen.
- AI + Marketing - What's Really Working? We've been getting many questions about AI and actual use cases in B2B marketing beyond the threads and posts on LinkedIn about cool ways to use ChatGPT so next week we're doing a live session with Meghan Anderson (Head of Marketing at Jasper), Kelly Peters (Director of Marketing at Tomorrow.io) and Jessica Hreha (Global Campaigns at VMWare) to talk about what they are all doing / seeing with AI. Click here to register for this live session and also get the recording.Our panel of marketing leaders will share their perspectives on adopting AI and setting standards for its productive use in marketing today, including examples from how their teams are using AI to drive productivity and efficiency (and doing so in ways that go beyond generic AI use cases).
- Please join us in the new home for Exit Five (and our dedicated iOS + Android app) We have officially moved our community off of Facebook and over to Circle which gives us our own private community on the web and 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.