Growth Insights for CEOs

The Marketing Health Check: 5 Questions to Ask Right Now to Prep for 2018

Posted by Don Lee


Another calendar year is just about in the books – and the atmosphere around most businesses is decidedly festive. Your staff, no doubt, is thinking about spreading cheer, forgetting about old acquaintances, and making plans for that dead zone between Christmas and New Year’s when the most mission critical strategic consideration is whether to drive or fly to grandma’s house for the holidays.

For you, as CEO, depending upon the results of the trailing 11 months at your company, you may be choosing to enjoy that extra glass of spiked Egg Nog at the company Christmas party – or channeling your inner Scrooge with the furrowed brow of regret. 

For most senior leaders, regardless of your company’s performance this year, your need to produce 2018 revenue begins on January 1 – and not a day later. This means now is a perfect time to check in and ensure your functional units are functioning as required. 

In today’s “always on” communications environment, where the consumer has completed 57 percent of the sales journey before contacting us, we have to ensure that our marketing department is consistently aligned with our organizational strategy. In today’s marketing paradigm, the health and welfare of our entire brand awareness program, sales funnel, corporate culture and future revenue potential lie at the feet of this intrepid group. 

As CEO, you can gain insight into the efficacy of your marketing efforts by asking five simple, yet purposeful, questions. Think of this exercise as a way to take inventory into your marketing investment. 

  1. What are the top three accomplishments you are most proud of? This question is designed to ensure that your marketing team can recognize, measure – and most critically, share – successes. We’re not looking for broad generalities here, but specifics – for example, if website hits grew, we’d want to know by what percentage, year over year. If your marketing team is having difficulty quantifying their accomplishments, it’s a signal that they should be investing in, or better utilizing, analytics tools to ensure they can gain greater insights into the trends that are most relevant to the success of the business.
  1. What industry or global trends should we be concerned about, or taking advantage of? We want to gauge whether the marketing team has a keen handle on competitive trends impacting innovation around our brands, products and services. Are we among the leaders in our market segment, or are we a step behind? How are we taking advantage of trends in the marketplace? Are we reacting to changing consumer attitudes and trends? Marketers have a duty to represent the “voice of the consumer” within our organization. We are counting on them to be aware of their surroundings.
  1. If you were me, what should we be investing in? Though we already indicated that the marketing team should be our eyes and ears to the world of innovation happening outside the company, we are counting on them to understand what investments will provide the most impact within the organization. As the keeper of the SWOT, the marketing team should be helping us to capitalize on opportunities, playing to our strengths, vanquishing threats and minimizing our weaknesses. Success in this regard often requires a good handle on cross-departmental collaboration – for example, if we see the need for a mobile app to help bolster our market position, we might need the marketing team to work more closely with the IT group to bring that project to bear.
  1. What will marketing start and stop doing in 2018? This question is a great gauge of the marketing team’s ability take a multi-dimensional view of its role within the company – whether they are there to simply “punch the clock, or to think strategically in a way that will truly advance the organization toward it’s loftiest objectives and goals. A good marketing team will be constantly evaluating its roles, tools, strategies and responsibilities, recasting where necessary to ensure efficient, results-oriented delivery of its strategies and tactics. And this cannot be done in a vacuum; ideally, the marketing team should be collaborating with stakeholders across the organization, soliciting and acting upon thoughtful viewpoints and opinions.
  1. What is your marketing mission for 2018? Does the marketing team have a defined “rally cry” for next year? Do they possess a commitment to continuous improvement? Do they function as an engine that, as it churns forward, delivers collaboration across the company while driving accountability? The best marketers are entrepreneurial in spirit, while also being team-oriented – relishing, and understanding, their specific role as individual contributors; but performing at the highest level to deliver results for the group as a whole.

Are you prepared to take your marketing inventory today? Do you know what your marketing mission is for 2018? If not, perhaps Chief Outsiders can be of assistance to you in identifying and implementing opportunities for growth and success. We’re here to help CEOs coach marketers to achieve success in their positions. When you’re ready, let’s talk. 

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Topics: Strategic Planning

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