How to Advance Through the 5 Stages of Marketing PerformanceWhere is your organization on the path to marketing performance?

It’s a question many marketers wonder as they try to find the balance between the customer-facing “do” and the strategic planning, investment and measurement “run” sides of marketing.

World-class marketing consultant Matt Heinz joined me for the latest in our #RunMarketing webinar series, Advancing Through the 5 Stages of Marketing Performance.

Read the recap below to learn about the five essential stages, plus get practical advice to advance through each stage to run marketing with more confidence and control.

Stage 1: Static Organization

In a static organization:

  1. Marketing leadership doesn’t have buy-in from other C-suite executives or only has a portion of the marketing budget/resources.
  2. Metrics are focused on tactics – like number of clicks, page views or press releases in the market.
  3. There are a bunch of “random acts of marketing technology.”

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Advice to Improve from Stage 1 to 2:

To change the perception that marketing is just the “arts and crafts” department, shift from activity-based reporting to metrics focused on business objectives. Understand the metrics your C-suite cares about – like revenue and sales output — and demonstrate, measure and promote how marketing activity is driving those outcomes.

And when it comes to making any marketing decision, don’t let the tail wag the dog. Have a strategy and define your success measures upfront to make decisions based on real results.

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Stage 2: Transitional Organization

In this “awakening” stage, organizations acknowledge their shortcomings:

  1. Talent levels are below where they need to be to truly progress.
  2. Sales and marketing recognize work needs to be done to improve the relationship, but don’t know what to do about it.
  3. Different metrics are needed, but marketers don’t know how to get better data.

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Advice to Improve from Stage 2 to 3:

Work with sales to define and agree to a common set of objectives and scorecards. Move to a single budget for marketing and sales technology to make it easier for marketing and sales to pinpoint the tools they truly need.

Realize that perfect is never going to happen. As Mike Tyson famously said, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” Get feedback from your team and the market, and continually make improvements.

Conduct periodic marketing technology audits to determine any redundant tools. Double-down on valuable tools and identify gaps that might require new investment.

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Stage 3: Progressive Organization

As the effects of change starts to kick in and marketing gains respect, a progressive organization has:

  1. Clean and usable marketing automation, CRM and marketing investment data.
  2. Linked technology, including marketing automation, CRM and marketing performance management tech stacks.
  3. Marketing metrics that are aligned to corporate objectives.

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Advice to Improve from Stage 3 to 4:

Find areas where you’ll have the biggest impact and focus on those first – like a better data management program.

Invest in strategic and dedicated marketing ops and sales enablement functions to make your teams more productive and efficient – and convert more opportunities into closed deals.

Find ways to demonstrate marketing as a revenue-generating profit center for your organization.

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Stage 4: Proactive Organization

In proactive organizations, marketing, sales and finance are strongly aligned because:

  1. All three organizations agree on pipeline contribution and ultimately how that turns into revenue.
  2. An EDW or business intelligence tool is in place and data is relatively clean.
  3. The CRM, marketing automation and marketing performance management tech stack are well entrenched.

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Advice to Improve from Stage 4 to 5:

At this higher level, companies map out, segment and integrate messaging across multiple channels for multiple audiences in a complex buyer journey orientation. Marketing takes responsibility for assisting across the entire marketing funnel and measures marketing‘s influence on sales.

Organizations also start to tie marketing team bonuses to sales and revenue metrics – just like CEOs and sales. While it isn‘t a comfortable place, it can have a big impact on where marketers focus.

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Stage 5: Optimized Organization

Also known as marketing nirvana, in optimized organizations:

  • Marketing and sales have the same objectives, tell the same story, and have systems, tools and processes that integrate their efforts together into one buyer-centric process.
  • Metrics are based on the revenue and sales impact of marketing activity.
  • Marketers think like entrepreneurs and look at ways to continually drive more revenue and sales with a lower cost.
  • Marketers focus on outcomes that mean the most to the organization.
  • The CMO spends time as a strategic organizational leader.

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4 Key Takeaways to Move Forward

Moving from stage 1 to 5 won‘t happen overnight. Move along the path to marketing performance in a meaningful way by following these takeaways:

  • Assess where you are, and plot your path to success.
  • Clearly think about the metrics you use to define and communicate success to your organization.
  • Develop your martech strategy based not on what‘s new and shiny, but on problems you need to solve.
  • Focus on the strategic “run“ side of marketing.

Listen to the full webinar recording to learn more about advancing through the stages of marketing performance maturity.