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Every Marketer Needs to Make Time for Self-Assessment

I sat in a 2016 B2B marketing planning meeting with marketing executives for a large and well-known company recently and they were telling me all of their plans for branding and awareness in the coming year. This company is really well known and I was asking myself “why are they spending so much on branding and awareness when most businesses know who they are?” Then I had a sad thought. I had been there a year earlier for a 2015 B2B marketing planning meeting and had heard the same type of planning! It was marketing déjà vu! We had made great progress with them over the last year to focus more on revenue impact but here we were again. Why?

Was it because that is the way they have always marketing?
Was it because that was the easiest and most comfortable path to take?
Was it because changing the way they marketed would have been disruptive, challenging, and potentially less productive?
Was it because the marketers are technology averse and do not have the right skill sets or experience?
Was it because executive management was not holding them accountable?

Perhaps it was a little bit of all of the above. Does the story sound too familiar?
Let’s face it; no marketing organization ever has enough dollars or resources to do everything that it would like. Tough choices have to be made. Are you really spending every corporate dollar as if it was your own? Are you spending too much time on projects that are not set up to succeed?

Now’s the Time to Take a Hard Look at Your Impact Over the Last Year

As you start planning for the next 12 months, read this blog, then print it out and take it home, grab yourself a glass of wine, bottle of beer, or your favorite beverage and ask yourself the following questions:

  • For the amount of money that I spent on the ___________ initiative or program, did we really have a noticeable impact on sales opportunities and revenue? Did we get a 5X, 6X, or 7X return or not even break even?
  • Did we really need all of those branding and awareness campaigns or should we have shifted some of our efforts over to lead and demand generation?
  • Did we go with some of those advertising and social media activities to generate sales opportunities and revenue or because they were highly visible and a quick way to show that Marketing “was doing something”?
  • Was there strategy driving our programs, leveraging multiple channels, and tying together initiatives or did we push individual tactics out the door and wish for the best so that we could check them off of our list?
  • Did we move ahead with the ____________ program under the guise of “testing” knowing that it was not going to generate a lot of revenue or conversions for us?
  • How much of our marketing didn’t work because our team did not have the right skills or expertise? Would we have been better off investing some dollars in training our staff better on technology or digital marketing best practices?
  • Did we participate in trade shows and conferences that did not really help our brand or revenue or did not provide a strong ROI?
  • Did we create or repurpose content to map back to a specific persona at a specific buying stage or did we just leverage our general content and send it to everyone?
  • Did we work with Sales in developing the _____________ campaign?

You Know Where I am Going with These Questions

Where are you going to go with these questions? (Have another beverage.) Now is the time to be honest with yourself. You have to look at yourself in the mirror every day. How do you want to approach the next 12 months? Do you want to follow the status quo? Do you want your boss to come up with all the ideas? Do you want to stay in your comfort zone and not push yourself? These are all questions that you have to be honest in answering.

Obviously branding, awareness, communication, impressions, differentiation, and perception management are all part of the marketing mix. The big question is “how much?” I have got to believe that for most marketing organizations, revenue impact, opportunity generation, business growth, conversions, and monetization have to be a much larger part of the marketing mix. Now is the time for you to answer all the questions in this piece.  It is also the time to question how you want to move forward and how you want to be known over the next 12 months. Are you ready to do so? By making a few adjustments, you may be surprised how much more effective you are with budget and time in the year ahead.

Image by © Rubberball/Corbis