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High ROI Marketing Activities

Marketing budgets of so many companies are shockingly upside down.

Activities like Events and Trade Shows that have huge upfront investments and low ROI get more than half the marketing budget in many cases.

The same companies put out a press release (that no one really reads in today's world anymore) every time something happens.

Meanwhile, areas like Paid Media and Content are heavily under-funded, despite their potential to deliver high ROI.

Granted, Low Effort / High ROI paid media campaigns will likely attract many competitors as well. But they're a heck of a lot better than spending $25,000 on a booth + travel and expenses for 10 people to go to an event where every competitor has a booth as well.

Content is the Blue Ocean opportunity -- where most competitors don't venture because of the effort required. It's not easy and it takes talent + expertise to emerge as the winner when publishing content in an industry. It is also where the asymmetric returns exist for most...


NPS Promoters

Identifying who loves your product is critical to where you invest your marketing dollars. What good is a Closed Won deal if the type of customer you bring in hates using your solution or churns in 120 days?

This is why marketers need to make a conscious effort to be connect to their product teams.

1) Understand who ends up being an NPS promoter for what you sell
2) Understand their characteristics? Are there underlying themes like in industry, vertical, role, region, size, pricing plan etc.?
3) Refine your TAM -- maybe some identified markets are not ideal for your solution after all
4) Go back to your marketing efforts and adjust to focus on the best fit customers
5) Repeat

This is how marketing shifts from a one-size-fits-all approach that is trying to please everyone to being focused on the people who we know we can serve and serve well.


Customer Obsession

Too many companies obsess over what their competitors are doing , what feature they've released, what their product looks like, how they're doing marketing.

Such an obsession inevitably leads to the commoditization of products and businesses, none of which have a real differentiator.

What if instead we focused on our customers, what they're telling us and think about how we want to serve them differently?

Also, notice how I said differently, not better. Everyone wants to be better than their competition. That's how the obsession with competition begins.

In an infinite game, better is irrelevant. Just obsess over serving your customers in your unique way and you'll get farther than you ever have.


PQL Milestones

Product Qualified Leads are one of the most under-leveraged data points used by marketers, especially in low-touch sales models.
If we can identify 4-5 key milestones, we can then track if marketing is bringing in people who take those actions.

Identifying the right milestones is critical. For example, by analyzing product metrics, Shopify may know that people who connect their Stripe account are 200% more likely to become a paid customer (this is just a guess). Some other examples:

Freshbooks: Sending your first invoice
Wix: Setting up a custom domain
Mailchimp: Sending your first email
Hootsuite: Scheduling 3 posts
Hubspot: Uploading your customer list

It could be that one milestone supersedes all. It could also be that a combination of milestones cause a prospect to cross the PQL threshold.

But these milestones highlight marketing’s role beyond just interacting with sales.

In such models, marketing needs to be connected with product teams to gather these metrics and connect...


Marketing’s Credibility

Each time Marketing brings in a lead that is a bad fit or a waste of time, Marketing loses credibility with Sales.

When Marketing doesn’t adjust its spend away from campaigns and channels bringing those bad leads, Sales begins to assume this is the norm — that marketing can only do so much.

Over time, this creates a culture where Sales feels like it needs to carry the revenue load. This is how Sales-led organizations emerge where marketing doesn't have a seat at the table.

To change this, Marketers need to stop worrying about vanity metrics of the number of MQLs brought in and really think about the quality of those same leads.

A Marketing organization can bring in fewer leads but impact revenue more.

That's the shift that needs to happen. The accountability needs to change.


Marketing Underfunded

Many marketing functions are underfunded and it's not because they can't make an impact on the business. It's because marketing, as a culture, has taken so long to bring self-awareness to its function.

Spotting a marketer who admits that a campaign they invested time, effort and money into didn’t work is like spotting a unicorn. It doesn’t happen that often, if at all.

Counterintuitively, Marketing’s best means for gaining credibility is sharing the failures of initiatives that didn’t work and then sharing a plan for how that spend will now be better reallocated.

The way to overcome this budget barrier is data. Having the right data helps us shift the conversation to the value marketing is driving. That makes getting more budget easier because we can say how effective marketing is and what ROI can be expected with increased spend.

The data also brings self-awareness to the marketing organization so that it can tell the rest of the organization when something...


When Buyers Want to Talk to Sales

Buyers would prefer to talk to sales as late in their journey as possible. So what's happening in the time up until they fill out that demo form?

  • They're trying to understand their pain points and what their possible alternatives are
  • They're exploring solutions (yours and your competitors)
  • They're building their requirements for an ideal solution
  • They're reading reviews and customer feedback of your product
  • They're trying to find as much content as possible to help them make their decision

In fact, 79% of buyers are consuming 3+ pieces of content before ever talking to a salesperson.

This is why marketing needs to be focused on creating as much *helpful* content as possible, not just self-serving product marketing content. 

The more content you create to help your buyer on their journey, the more likely you are to get them to a point where they know, like and trust you before they ever talk to a salesperson.


Parallel Organization

When you realize marketing needs to be revenue-accountable, you realize marketing needs to be involved at every stage of the sales process not just till the hand-off.

Hand-offs are where Go-To-Market strategies break down and why marketing organizations can hide behind MQLs or Leads as their core accountability when they are really accountable to revenue.

Did scanning 500 badges at that conference really matter? Ask a marketer in a hand-off environment and their answer is very different than a marketer who is revenue accountable.

We want revenue accountability for marketing. That's the only way we can scale marketing's impact.

Oh, by the way, buyers want marketing more involved too. They want more content at every stage of their journey and less interactions with sales people.

Listen to your buyers.


To learn more about how to hire marketing leaders that suit the new parallel organization structure, read our full article: How to Hire Marketing Leaders for PE-Backed Companies...


CMO’s Most Important Metric

When polling CMOs on their most important accountability metric, Gartner found that 12% listed Brand Awareness, while only 7% listed ROI and 1% listed LTV.

It's not that Brand is not important. It's that the lack of focus on ROI by marketers is heavily impacting how much budget they receive and how much impact they make on an organization.

This is why data needs to be at the heart of how marketing measures itself.


Product Led Growth vs. Marketing

The more your company is focused on Product-Led Growth, the more your company likely depends on Marketing to drive revenue. This is why in companies that are Product-Led, you see the emergence of growth teams and user onboarding teams where marketing is heavily involved.

Conversely, in a Sales-Led Growth organization, Marketing is just a supporting cast member and responsible for things like Sales Enablement, Events, Comms, Product Marketing etc.

I've seen too many marketers try to convert a sales-led organization into a product-led one to get marketing a bigger seat at the table. The only times that happens is when the CEO buys into it.

If you're a marketer, you want to work in the former organization, not the latter. That's where you'll get the most funding and support for your programs and ideas because you'll be a core pillar of the business.

You'll also end up being a bigger reason why the company grows.


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