Our recent survey of 150 senior enterprise marketers from major technology companies offers some interesting insights. Respondents overwhelmingly felt that, “people doing too many tasks; no room to think,” was the “most disturbing trend they had noticed in the last year.” Not surprisingly this is the same top response as last year’s survey, given that organizations have collectively tightened their belts and have often done so at the expense of the marketing team. The challenge is that this is the new reality. Marketers are left with the not-insignificant task of delivering increased value at a lower cost. The “do more with less” mantra has migrated from IT to marketing. Some marketers have successfully innovated to work smarter, not harder, but as this survey response indicates, most are feeling the squeeze.
What are the most disturbing trends you’ve noticed in the last year?
A similar story is provided by the results of December’s 2012 CMO State of Marketing Global Report. It states that while “insufficient budget is the biggest source of aggravation [for marketing leaders]…many find organizational cultures frustrating and undermining marketing success.” The phrasing “organizational cultures” is a bit vague, but the surveys offer some insight as to what organizational issues are impeding marketers. Two stand out in particular. Limited or lack of sales and marketing alignment and the relationship between marketing and IT.
Neither of these are new news, although alignment is now recognized as a best practice and more sales and marketing teams seem to be addressing the issue. In terms of the relationship between marketing and IT, there’s clearly more to be done by many organizations. Changing buyer behaviors and the accompanying new prominence of integrated digital marketing strategies require a more proactive and responsive marketing approach. To meet the “do more with less” requirement marketing needs not only automation but streamlined processes and access to more data and analytic capabilities than at any time in the past.
As is often the case, the problem is not necessarily that marketing has too much to do. Rather that changing to a new paradigm is hard. The expectation is that by automating processes and having better analytics, it should be possible to work smarter instead of having to work harder. Here are four areas that marketing can focus on to help reduce the current challenges:
- Lead generation. Developing a smooth and consistent, month-to-month, amount of quality leads that sales can support and that contribute directly to the sales pipeline. This takes work but budgets can be reallocated from traditional “event-based” activities to support some out-tasking of both demand and content creation.
- Lead nurturing and pipeline progress. By warming up leads marketing can help improve sales productivity and pipeline progress. Marketing must take responsibility to help sales both generate leads and convert them to revenue by providing prospect intelligence and customized thought leadership.
- Alignment and communication. Marketing-driven organizations must be customer-centric and marketing must do its part to align, not only with sales, but with every other function of the company. Better alignment is proven to deliver more efficiency and effectiveness throughout the organization and clearer communications set the right expectations which reduce the number of out-of-scope demands.
- Analytics. Analytics are the key to doing more with less. What’s working well and what’s not. Do only those things that contribute to success and not those that only “might” work.
Getting the focus right and leveraging the new scope of marketing solutions enabled by IT, can provide previously unobtainable opportunities for marketers. Working more closely with sales and taking responsibility to contribute actively to some of their goals, e.g. pipeline and conversions, will forge closer alignment and improve both sales and marketing productivity. Working more closely with IT to identify which metrics are important and how they can be reported will take time but the pay-off can be huge. Finally, analyzing in-house skills and the effectiveness of current “event-driven” activities and then out-tasking where it makes sense can not only reduce the workload but also produce better results.
What steps have you taken to deal with the burgeoning marketing workload?