New Year's Resolutions.jpgI’m one of those guys who believes in New Year’s resolutions.  There’s something about taking the time to reflect, envisioning a better version of ourselves, and making plans.

This year, I’d like to propose some marketing un-resolutions—that is, things that we should be careful to avoid in 2013.  These are all traps that I know many marketers have fallen into.  I certainly know that I have.

Speaking for myself, in 2013, I will strive NOT to:

1.  Get out of alignment with Sales.

We get busy.  Sales gets busy.  We’re sure we’re doing the right things to support them.  Of course they want that new white paper, right?  They liked the Widget World trade show last year, so they’ll love it this year, right?  I talked to Frank last quarter and felt great about lead volume—let’s keep doing what we’re doing.  I’ve been doing this a long time, and I understand the buying process, right?

Markets are dynamic, and alignment between Sales and Marketing requires constant and meaningful communication.  And, as I’ve argued here before, alignment is becoming more critical than ever. We must be vigilant to ensure everything we do will ultimately feed the revenue engine.

2.  Ready, Fire, Aim My Programs.

We’ve got a big number for 2013, and we’ve got to build pipeline.  Now.  Let’s just get something out there to generate buzz and drive some leads.  I can certainly see myself giving this directive.

And it makes me cringe.  We’re all under pressure to deliver, but we need to take the time to be thoughtful and complete with our investments.  Better to do few programs with more precision and forethought.

So this year, I will take the time—and ensure my team take the time—to be deliberate, thoughtful, and complete in their program planning.  And this includes deciding how we’ll measure success before we kickoff the program.

3.  Dismiss My Competitors.

Our stuff is better.  Just look.   Our market share is dominant!  We have unique technology!  Check out what the press is saying!

It doesn’t matter.  What matters is our prospects’ priorities, how they perceive us, and what budgets our products will come from.  Often times, this leads us into seemingly weird competitive dynamics. And we need to be prepared.

Let’s take the time to truly understand—with an open mind—what our competitors are offering, how they’re talking about their products, and how they’re de-positioning us.  Let’s listen to our prospects to discover what we’re really competing against because they’re making priority choices every day.  Let’s build detailed and compelling competitive materials for our Sales teams so they can be confident in the street fights for deals. And let’s not underestimate the small, new, scrappy competitor that will give us fits if we’re not prepared.

4.  Be Afraid to Experiment.

When we’re planning our program spend and executing our campaigns, it’s easy to fall into the tried and true.  We know what works, right?

The problem is that the marketing world is changing at an insane rate—what worked last time around might not work now.  In this new world, only constant experimentation will keep us on top.

Experiments don’t have to be big.  It can be as a simple as A/B testing email subject lines or website button colors.  It can also be as big as testing a whole new audience or exhibiting at a whole new conference.   But regardless of the size, we need to run structured, measurable experiments and keep track of the results.  Otherwise, we might miss some pretty big boats.

We need to be open enough with our colleagues (especially other executives and Sales) to let them know we’re trying something new and then review the results.   We also need to be humble enough to admit failed experiments and be clear about what we learned.

5.  Ignore How Other Industries Do Their Marketing.

In our industry we do things our industry’s way. That just how it is—our customers expect us to market in a certain way.  And it’s easy to go this route.  It’s safe.

But it isn’t always the most effective.  Marketing is marketing, and many of the same core principles apply, whether you’re marketing soap or software.  I’ve argued before that B2B can learn a ton from B2C generally.

One of the beauties of MENG is hearing from seasoned marketers in a variety of industries.  In 2013, we should make a point of talking with other kinds of marketers to share ideas—at the very least it’s interesting.  But more likely, we’ll find some ideas worth applying to our own situation.

This 2013 is a big year.  What are you NOT going to do?