By: Phillip Chen
Posted: March 17, 2016 | Modern Marketing
For marketers at growing companies who are ready to make the leap from a small marketing group to a larger-scale function, making their programs larger and more effective is almost always on their minds. But how do you grow with your programs so that you don’t get left in the dust?
I started at Marketo when our marketing team was relatively small, and since then we have more than doubled. Throughout this time I have observed two types of marketers—the ones that have been able to grow with the company and the ones that weren’t able to punch above their original weight class.
So how do you make sure that you’re growing with your company? Here are four ways to take yourself, and your marketing, to the next level:
If you have no idea where to begin, start by looking at which of your programs are performing well and which could use some improvement. Indicators of program performance can include things like subjective opinion, pipeline attribution, or even something as basic as abnormal response rates. When you dig into this, you’ll find is that your original question will cascade into a series of additional questions such as “Is this an anomaly?” or “How can this be replicated?”. Ultimately, it’s the insights that stem from your curiosity that will lead you to a new idea to boost your programs.
At Marketo, to gain insight into how we could grow our virtual event from 9,000 attendees to over 20,000 attendees, we put together a focus group of people with varying degrees of knowledge about what a virtual event was. Then, we asked them a series of questions, drilling into their answers looking for more insights. What we found were new ways of promoting the event, messaging around it, and other things our current event lacked. For example, we found that virtual attendees appreciate subtitles as not everyone can rely solely on audio. Another insight we found was that there was a misconception that a virtual event was a webinar, and that people didn’t realize it was very interactive and that they could interact with sponsors, network, listen to different sessions, download content, and also win prizes.
Aside from focus groups, other ways you can uncover insights for your company include surveys, internal interviews, customer interviews, and of course reports.
The difference between a small program and a larger program often comes down to cross-functional coordination. If you are effectively able to leverage other teams, you’ll have a greater impact with what you can do. The reason our field events at Marketo have grown so vigorously is because we have a buy-in process with sales and a coordinated effort of different roles and responsibilities to penetrate any given region. We start by showing our sales reps all the options available to them in terms of campaigns, events, and reports. Then, we have them request these options through a form or meeting. Doing this enables us to understand what our reps needs, which we can then translate into a plan. Our plans are reviewed by sales, so they can provide their feedback on whether or not it supports their objectives. As you can see, our program would be stifled if only handled by one group and not as a collaborative effort.
Cross-functional coordination doesn’t apply to just sales and marketing alignment for B2B marketers, but extends to other departments as well as applies across marketing. Consider working closely with customer success, support, and other teams in your organization.
Dream big, and then figure out what it takes to get there. This might seem intuitive, but in reality this is probably done poorly most of the time because of the considerable amount of effort it takes. Say for example that you want 1,000 people to register for your event. What do you have to do to get there? It will take a lot of brainstorming, and although you may not reach your goal initially, over time you will learn more effective ways to achieve the big dreams that you have.
Remember that this is an iterative process. The first time you do this, your guesstimates or forecasts will probably be off. For example, you may think that sending one email can drive 100 people to a webinar, but it only really drove 10. While your assumption was off, the next time you go through this process, you will be able to better understand your investments and how to reach the numbers you are trying to achieve.
I hate to tell you, but the honest truth is, if you want something to grow and scale, it will require resources in the form of time and money. What I will say though is that when there’s a will there’s a way. If you’ve done a good job of planning, you’ll be sharp and ready to handle any objections when talking to stakeholders—proving to them that what you want will help them achieve their goals. It’s unbelievable the number of times I’ve gotten my program invested internally over others, purely because I’ve put together a well-thought out plan of how the investment will be used and why it’s the right allocation of budget.
At the end of the day, obtaining the appropriate resources is about creating a convincing argument as to why your program deserves more investment than another. To help you create a convincing argument, measure as many aspects of your program as possible to see where there may be outlier results that you can leverage to get your project funded. Things to measure may include pipeline, new logos, customer acquisition cost, new names, attendance rate, or number of marketing qualified leads to name a few.
Growing with your marketing can be painful. It requires adaptability, a big dream, but also the willingness to learn and sweat to create something larger than yourself. Ask questions and get curious, bring in other teams to do something larger than just one function, plan a way to get what you want, and ask for the appropriate resources to get there with the right metrics to back it up.