Do you think the senior executive team is excited about the big lead-generation campaign you just launched? Nope. How about the number of “likes” on your corporate Facebook page? Think again. Marketing doesn’t matter in many organizations, because it thinks, operates and, worst of all, reports “small.”
Executives sitting in the C-suite got there by thinking big, managing big and reporting big. Marketers commit hara-kiri with this group by reporting tactical-level activities — “minutiae” that garners no one’s attention. Do you think the head of sales is reporting the number of sales calls that reps make per day? No. If you want to grab, and keep the attention of senior executives, you have to play on their level. Here are five ways to go “big.”
Big Bets – If you want marketing to be valued, you have to understand, and link, to what the organization values. It’s that simple. If it’s market share, connect marketing objectives and activities to acquisition or account penetration, or both. If it’s profit, understand the drivers of profitability and align your teams’ efforts to those drivers. Plan top down, not bottom up.
Big Strategy – Once you understand how to link marketing to the business objectives, your job is then to connect those big bets to day-to-day marketing activities. Your smarts will be needed to take requirements for the product and sales organizations (which may be very tactical) and link them to the overall marketing strategy that aligns to the big bets. Warning: This will require math; perhaps lots of it.
Big Plays – To execute, organize your marketing objectives as defined by your internal stakeholders into two or three big plays. If market share is a key growth objective, a big play should focus on an area that has the greatest opportunity to do that, like a specific market, product and customer. All marketing activities/campaigns should be nested around that “play.” Messaging is critical here because it is the “big play” wrapper that creates consistency in the communication across execution. Think “Smarter Planet,” which contains, for example, a big data analytics play across industries and solutions/products. IBM discovered years ago that the best-performing campaigns stayed in market the longest, and had the highest level of integrated tactics. It takes focus and discipline to do, but if you can get there, it can make your life easier by enabling you to organize everything under an umbrella, and if things don’t fit…then maybe you don’t do them.
Big Results – The first rule here is to understand that measurement and reporting are different. Measure everything, but report only “process” or “results” metrics. Executives care about outputs, not inputs. Inputs are activities; outputs are results. Know the difference.
Big Balls – Ya gotta have ’em. You are going to have to get comfortable enough with risk to embrace it. If you do this right, you will be placing bets that you don’t know how — or if — they are going to pay off. Years ago, I worked with a CEO who committed to double the size of the business in three years. The CMO calculating sales cycles realized that to support such growth, marketing needed to double the number of leads that year. She had no idea how she was going to do it, but it caught the attention of senior management, focused her team, and it happened. But as she learned, you don’t try to go it alone. Reach out to others with your plan and secure their buy-in and support. Level-set expectations. For some, this may take a while. Set big goals, but be realistic in getting there.
And the time for going big is now. In Forrester’s recent B2B CMO’s Must Evolve or Move On report, 97 percent of marketing leaders who were surveyed agree with the statement that “Marketing must do things that it has never done before to be successful.”
The other interesting, and important nugget from the research is that marketing is playing a bigger role in influencing corporate strategy, and other functions. Make sure you’re capturing this opportunity at your organization by thinking, executing and by being — “Big”.
Scott Gillum is the president of gyro Washington D.C.
Follow him @sgillum