For leaders of marketing teams facing low levels of maturity – perhaps you’re a team of one, working with minimal resources, or your organization is getting started with marketing for the first time – the journey to sophisticated marketing operations can seem daunting. Implementing effective marketing operations, however, is required to establish a strong foundation for success. Here are a few key steps you can begin today to increase the effectiveness of your marketing.
Establish an Intentional Planning Cycle:
One of the first steps in increasing operational maturity is to align your marketing plans with the overall business’s goals and planning cycle. During the planning process, it’s important to consider the goals and objectives of the business as a whole, and how marketing can directly contribute to them. In understanding the organization’s goals and objectives, you can ensure that your marketing efforts are tightly aligned with driving revenue and achieving those listed outcomes. When alignment is achieved, you avoid spending money on tactics that don’t serve the business, allocating time to the incorrect priorities, and working with unclear objectives.
If your organization as a whole lacks a robust planning cycle, take the initiative to create one specifically for your marketing team. Develop a planning rhythm that allows you to anticipate future needs and align your marketing plans accordingly. Through establishing this quarterly planning rhythm, you create a structured framework for setting priorities, allocating resources, and measuring success against your previous cycles to determine what’s working and what’s not. But don’t stop here, continue to review and revise your planning cycle as time goes on, being ready to adapt when needed. Regular adjustments allow you to stay responsive to market changes, competitive moves, and unforeseen business challenges — ensuring that your tactics have the ability to adapt.
Implement a Weekly Review Cadence:
The next step is to implement a weekly review cadence. Why? Because this dedicated time ensures consistent communication, regular re-alignment, and shared accountability. It allows you to review the previous week’s activities, discuss any challenges or roadblocks, and plan for the upcoming week. So set up a weekly meeting – regardless of the size of your team – to discuss ongoing activities, address challenges, and plan for the upcoming week. It also provides an opportunity to track progress against key objectives with your scorecard (more on that in a minute).
As your team grows, this weekly cadence will become even more valuable for maintaining transparency, efficiency, and alignment between your team members. The opportunity for miscommunication only grows as the team expands, and the addition of new members — with new and unique responsibilities — requires that everyone can connect their own tasks and behaviors back to the bigger picture. When there is consistent, open dialogue outlining all roles, objectives, and priorities for the upcoming week however, everyone will know what responsibilities are theirs as tasks are completed, leaving less room for unclear expectations.
Develop a Scorecard System:
Now that your marketing tactics are aligned with the business’ goals, being communicated and reviewed in your weekly meetings, it’s time to make sure they are effectively measured. To do this, establish a performance scorecard that tracks relevant KPIs. This system should include a mix of indicators that specifically align with your organization’s goals.
But how do you know which indicators to track? First, ensure that you have the right mix of leading and lagging indicators of performance. This combination ensures your team is able to see the long-run impact of their efforts while still having the opportunity to adapt when your leading KPIs are showing a downward trend.
Now, when developing your scorecard, focus on the KPIs that directly reflect the impact of your marketing efforts on the business. Consider the specific goals and objectives of your organization, and select metrics that align with those priorities. Is your business in a period of explicitly working toward sales increases? Consider tracking revenue attributable to your efforts (if you have the technology in place to do so). Metrics such as weighted pipeline, average deal size, or customer retention rates may also be of use. Naturally, these KPIs will be dependent upon your industry and business model.
If one of your main goals is to grow your audience — building brand awareness, you could spend time tracking channel-focused metrics like organic and paid media impressions, follower count across social platforms, and website traffic.
As you track these metrics consistently, you can gauge the effectiveness of your tactics, identify trends, and make informed decisions to optimize your marketing initiatives. And remember, your organization’s goals may change over time, so be ready to pivot and focus your attention on the KPIs that are most relevant to your current objectives.
Leverage Available Data:
It is critical to trust where your data is coming from. Take inventory of the data sources already available to you, such as Google Analytics, your CRM, and customer feedback platforms. Assess the quality and comprehensiveness of your data, identifying any gaps or areas for improvement. While you may not have the resources for advanced analytics or extensive research initially, understanding your existing data allows you to make informed decisions and prioritize future data collection efforts and investments. As your marketing maturity increases, you can consider investing in better tools and resources to gather deeper insights.
Even with limited resources, it’s crucial to understand the data available to you and leverage it to inform your decision-making. As your organization grows and invests in more advanced data analysis tools, you’ll be well-positioned to take advantage of the opportunities that data-driven marketing presents.
Foster Collaboration with Sales:
Plain and simple, your marketing team should be conducting efforts that drive sales. Not only is this the case from a revenue standpoint, but aligning marketing and sales is a critical step from an operational standpoint as well. Collaborate closely with your sales team to understand their needs, challenges, and customer insights from their conversations. Not sure how to do this? Consider attending sales meetings, sitting in on sales calls, and engaging with the sales team to gather valuable feedback. Through understanding the pain points faced by your sales department, you can develop targeted marketing materials – such as case studies, proof points, or support documentation – that directly address these needs and get ahead of prospect’s questions in future conversations .
Building strong relationships with the sales team fosters a sense of partnership and ensures marketing sales objectives are aligned.
Communicate Impact Effectively:
In organizations with a low level of maturity, it’s crucial to build credibility at the leadership level and create clarity regarding how the marketing department is supporting the overall business. Many leaders can’t see the potential value a well-executed marketing strategy can bring to the organization — rooted in their previous experiences where marketing was missing the fundamental pieces listed above. Therefore, it becomes essential to communicate the impact of marketing in a way that showcases its direct contribution to achieving business-level objectives.
This requires identifying and highlighting key marketing activities that have a direct impact on revenue growth, customer acquisition, or customer satisfaction. If you’ve already leveraged the available date and worked alongside sales, this step should already be complete. By sharing concise and impactful updates on these key initiatives, you can demonstrate the tangible value that marketing brings to the organization while also ensuring that leadership is involved and aligned with how marketing should impact the business.
Aligning your planning with business objectives, implementing structured operations, leveraging data, collaborating with sales, and effectively communicating impact are all key steps to increasing marketing maturity.
Embrace the power of marketing operations and unlock your team’s potential. While you may be starting small and refining your approach over time, the continuous focus on improvement will help pave the way for success.d