Marketing management is a dangerous job. Stalled revenue, sudden budget cuts, and political finger pointing are constant threats to even the most talented marketing management professional. Marketing management disasters come in three general forms: natural environmental shocks, self-inflicted man-made crises, and socio-political unrest. To survive, you must be prepared.
In this not-so-tongue-and-cheek blog series, we present 18 Marketing Management Survival Tactics for staving off common marketing management disasters. This first post in the series provides 6 proven tactics for surviving marketing management natural disasters.
Creating demand and driving sustainable revenue growth is the primary charter of every marketing organization. However, they are much easier said than done. There are times when increasing demand is as simple as ramping advertising spend. Sooner or later though, every ad campaign and media channel runs dry. Ending a demand drought requires marketing innovation, and marketing innovation requires the ingenuity of skilled marketing managers.
The problem is ingenuity doesn’t scale. Sustainable revenue growth cannot rest entirely on the shoulders of a few creative marketing managers. To prevent recurring demand droughts, you must systematize marketing innovation. New marketing ideas, both big and small, must be sourced, brainstormed, prioritized, tested, measured and assessed on a regular basis. Successful new ideas then become ongoing marketing programs, and innovation shifts to marketing program optimization. If you want to be a revenue rainmaker, you must build a marketing innovation machine.
Source new marketing ideas broadly and routinely by conducting regular surveys of customers and sales, publishing request and feedback forms, and soliciting suggestions from throughout the entire company. The wider the net you cast, the better your chances of catching that next great marketing campaign idea.
Create a running backlog of all marketing ideas that you can draw on at any time. Set a standard for prioritizing ideas based on relative value and level of effort required to implement them. Groom the backlog on a regular basis to refine good ideas, remove outdated ideas and reprioritize those that remain. By keeping a running idea backlog, you simplify marketing planning and make sure you never lose a good revenue generating idea.
To capture the attention of busy buyers, marketing managers plan global campaigns, product launches, seasonal promotions, and spectacular events that routinely fill marketing departments up with a deluge of work. If you don’t brace yourself for these foreseeable floods, quality will suffer and marketing teams will drown in a sea of work. Marketing management at scale is a process, not a project, and marketing managers must master important process management principles to open the floodgates when the tide runs high.
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Handling a deluge of work with limited marketing resources requires scalable, efficient marketing production processes based on increased standardization, automation and quality. The more your marketing production processes resemble a factory, the more marketing output you can generate per marketing team member. Most marketing projects from websites to trade shows require the coordination of cross-functional marketing teams. While these people-centric processes cannot be fully automated in the same sense as sending an email, their production capacity can be dramatically increased by implementing a marketing project management system with standardized workflows, formalized hand-offs, deliverable templates, reusable assets and proactive management of resource bottlenecks. Once standardized, routine tasks can be automated and end-to-end processes can be optimized through continuous improvement.
Increase the efficiency of people-centric marketing processes by focusing on the handoffs. Define specific process stages, such as draft, copy, design, proof, etc. and create outlines and templates for deliverables that get handed-off at each stage. Track marketing projects by stage to ensure a smooth work flow. Just like you do with the purchase funnel!
If you monitor marketing projects by workflow stage, then you can identify bottlenecks in your marketing management process when a particular stage backs up. Bottlenecks in any stage reduce the output of the entire process. Remove bottlenecks to keep your marketing projects flowing and increase efficiency.
Budget cuts, competitor moves, PR crises: sometimes unexpected bolts from the blue shock a well-organized marketing plan into complete disarray. When things change rapidly, does your marketing organization absorb the shock and rebound nimbly? Or, does it end up in a panic that puts everything else on hold until the crisis passes? Insulating your marketing organization against sudden shocks requires a flexible marketing management process that expects change and adapts quickly.
If you find it difficult to plan because you are constantly dealing with unforeseen changes, then you should consider adopting agile marketing best practices, such as working incrementally. When you know your marketing plan will change each month, then you should not commit to projects that will take longer than a month to implement. Break big projects up into smaller ones that fit into your known time horizon. Don’t make rigid plans that extend out several quarters. Set long term goals and prioritize your backlog of projects accordingly. Focus on producing a steady stream of work based on your backlog. When lightning strikes, you just have to adjust your priorities, not your plans.
Big projects reduce flexibility, while small projects increase it. Implement big projects incrementally by breaking them up into smaller ones. When lightning strikes, you can easily shift to something else without lowering productivity.
Once you start working incrementally, you can fit projects neatly into weekly, bi-weekly or monthly work ‘sprints’. Each sprint cycle, you strive to complete projects assigned to the current sprint, then realign priorities for any changes as you plan the next sprint. Sprints increase your flexibility, strengthen your focus on tangible results, and establish a regular heartbeat within your marketing organization.