When I meet with CEOs in my role as a fractional CMO, it’s usually at a time when their company’s growth, revenues, or market share – or some combination of the three – have flattened. Often, these CEOs are finding that their current marketing efforts aren’t delivering the results they expect. And in most cases, their companies are in “scale-up” mode with substantial emphasis on sales and operational excellence.
An unintended consequence of this critical stage in a business’s maturation process is that marketing is often relegated to a meandering series of one-off tactics such as glossy sales sheets, the occasional trade show, search engine optimization, and a basic website with the intent of meeting in-the-moment needs.
We call these types of tactics “random acts of marketing,” and while company leaders mean well in creating them, the reality is they cost money, don’t get results, and divert attention of the marketing staff from higher-value activities. Worse yet, they consume precious resources that could fund and execute a strategy to support growth and build value.
To address these issues, when working with the CEO and leadership team (or marketing team if there is one), we do three things:
Let’s start by understanding how to identify these random acts.
Random acts of marketing come in many forms. For example, if you’re setting a time-bound quota for blogs or social media posts, you are marketing with no purpose. I once encountered a company that had committed to issuing two press releases per month but had no idea why. Haphazard, output-oriented goals such as these – without a clearly defined gauge to measure its business impact – will not only allow you to lose credibility with prospects, current customers, and influencers, but they will cause you to focus on the pursuit of a meaningless goal instead of one that can charge your ecosystem with value.
Ask yourself why you’re doing something, and if the answer doesn’t include a measure of its business impact, you’ve probably identified a “random act of marketing.”
As Adweek explains, not only does poor inbound content deter business, it can negatively impact your search engine optimization (SEO). Google and other platforms now take social signals into account when evaluating your website page rankings.
If the quality of your posts is poor, prospects will be less likely to find you. And if your content does not convey a cohesive narrative, prospects will be less likely to view your company as credible or understand the value you can deliver – compelling your audience to seek out a competitor that is engaging in a more impactful dialogue.
To eliminate random acts of marketing and move your enterprise toward a focused approach that informs your work and yields better results that you can review and measure, you can follow these five steps:
It’s important to understand your company, your competitors, and your customers. These insights add up to a knowledge base from which you can make good marketing decisions. Ask a fractional CMO for guidance on how to obtain critical data, or check out these data ideas from Forbes marketing experts.
Based on your insights assessment, define your goals for your marketing plan, and develop strategies to address those high-level goals. This will serve as a guide for you to focus on the highest-value prospects, offers, channels to market, and positioning to propel your growth. A sound marketing plan that’s integrated with sales and operations will ignite your company’s engine for sustained success.
When you create your content, think from the outside in. What does your brand stand for? What value do you bring to customers? Use each marketing opportunity to help define positioning and value propositions in terms that resonate with your clients, influencers, investors, and employees.
Directed by your strategy, you will need to organize your internal and external resources, tools, and tactics. The idea is to narrow down the list of tactics, but double-down on the effort to ensure you are executing on these at an optimal level. Home in on the right channels to reach your customers. Stick to your plan, but don’t be unduly rigid. It’s important to adjust on the fly and be opportunistic within reason, especially in a dynamic market.
If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there – and you may not like where you end up! Define your company’s key performance indicators (KPIs) up front, then adjust your programs to make sure your marketing investments bear fruit, while simultaneously supporting customer acquisition and retention.
By following these steps to develop a succinct marketing plan focused on delivering business impact over tactical outputs, your team will be able to streamline its work, save money, and distribute the content you create to the right audience.
Chief Outsiders provides CEOs and private equity firms with part-time, market-focused senior executives who develop, drive and execute marketing strategy and revenue growth initiatives. As operational executives ourselves, we understand the purpose, rigor and process that are required to generate the most effective marketing strategy and execution plan that drives growth.
Our Growth Gears approach provides a framework for success based on insights, strategy and execution. We’ll help you replace your company’s random acts of marketing with a reasoned plan informing growth-generating tactics. With a little focus, you’ll create higher value programs to improve market visibility, better connect with customers, and propel growth.