Want a marketing group that makes your company more profitable? Here are fifteen easy changes that your firm can make - today - to make certain your marketing helps, rather than hinders, your sales activities:
- TWEAK #1: Treat marketing as tactical not strategic. If your company's marketers think that they're doing something "strategic", they're probably wasting time and money trying to tell other groups how to do their job. In the best companies, marketing is a tactical function whose primary purpose is providing qualified sales leads. In a productive marketing group, all activities, serve that goal. Period.
- TWEAK #2: Stop having "delusions of brandeur." Unless your firm possesses one of the handful of instantly recognizable brand names (e.g. Coke, Sony, IBM), stop pretending that your firm should emulate the way that those firms market. It's like a toddler thinking he can run a four minute mile if he buys a $3,000 pair of running shoes. A complete waste of money.
- TWEAK #3: Systematize lead generation. Lead generation should never be an ad-hoc improvisation based on whatever product you want to sell today. It should be part of an integrated process that has a measurable effect on sales results. If you don't have a system, it's almost impossible to measure whether or not marketing is having a positive impact on revenue or profit. This is one case where "loosey goosey" isn't going to cut it.
- TWEAK #4: Replace broadcasting with narrowcasting. Marketers love broadcast (i.e. one-size-fits-all) messages because it takes a lot less time, effort, and research to create one set of marketing tools for everyone, rather create a customized messages for each type of customer. However, the narrower the message, the more likely it will generate good leads. So focus on something that's, well, focused. Okay?
- TWEAK #5: Eradicate jargon and biz blab. Possibly because of their B-school training, many marketers seem to speak and write using gobbledegook like "improves productivity" and "state-of-the-art." That kind of verbiage may sound "business-like," but it communicates nothing and, frankly, often makes customers cringe. Get rid of it, and your sales will go up.
- TWEAK #6: Focus market research on real statistics. The purpose of market research is to understand the behavior of real, live customers. That only happens with statistically valid studies that go beyond merely gather anecdotes. Unfortunately, a lot of so-called "market research" consists of focus groups and other subjective nonsense that primarily confirms an opinion that somebody in the marketing group already holds. Dump it, and do the real work instead.
- TWEAK #7: Eliminate corporate branding efforts. There's no question that a good corporate brand can make selling easier, and individual product lines are easier to sell if they have memorable brand names. However, those brands never emerge from advertising and other forms of marketing, but ALWAYS from product quality and customer experience. No amount of marketing ever made anyone love a lousy product.
- TWEAK #8: Reduce the number of marketing materials. Most B2B sales situations involve a custom solution, in which case product-oriented brochures are marginally useful, at best. As for press releases, nobody reads them, not even the press. (Trust me on this one.) Nobody watches fancy product videos either, except the people who make them. In most cases, 90% of the marketing material could be dumped with little or no loss of sales.
- TWEAK #9: Retarget your advertising spends. TV advertising for anything but mass-market consumer products is a complete waste of time. No sane customer is going to bet a career or a company on a piece of information sandwiched between an ad for dishwashing liquid and a preview for the next episode of "American Idol." Just not gonna happen, so don't pay for it.
- TWEAK #10: Hire fewer industry analysts. Most industry analysts are, not to put too fine a point on it, whores. How do I know this? I once controlled a $1 million per year market research budget. It was TRIVIAL to get industry analysts -- even those in the big, reputable firms -- to say basically anything that we wanted them to say, even if it was patent nonsense. Go ye forth and don't do likewise.
- TWEAK #11: Don't goal marketing on deliverables. Many marketing groups are goaled on their ability to create deliverables: brochures, videos, ads, events, tools, etc. These are assumed to be of value in creating "brand awareness" and theoretically make it easier to sell the company's products. Unfortunately, those assumptions are often dead wrong because nobody bothers to measure their financial impact. Or can even figure out how to do that.
- TWEAK #12: Put marketing and sales together. If there's a separate corporate structure for marketing and sales, there will be inevitable disagreement about basic issues, like the intended market and the target customer. The only way to prevent stovepipes and infighting is to fold the marketing group into the sales group and put it under the same management. In most case, this should be the CSO.
- TWEAK #13: Redefine a qualified sales lead. If marketing is going to be useful (i.e. supply good sales leads) there needs to be a clear definition of what constitutes a hot (qualified and closeable) sales lead. Ideally, this will a decision-maker inside a company that's part of your target market and provide enough information about the decision-maker, and the decision-maker's firm, for the sales rep to get a foothold into the opportunity.
- TWEAK #14: Hold the sales team responsible. Once the sales group has agreed that a marketing-supplied lead is qualified, they MUST be made 100 percent accountable for closing that lead. Under no circumstances should the sales team be allowed to fingerpoint at marketing and claim that marketing isn't giving them good leads. In other words, if marketing is doing it's job, sales loses the right to complain. Ever.
- TWEAK #15: Measure, measure, measure. Monitor your entire sales process from demand creation all the way to ongoing customer purchases. Use that data to refine your model for what constitutes a qualified lead and to constantly improve and increase your lead generation process, as well as the various sales activities that take place after marketing has done their (superlative) job.