At the end of every year the internet is flooded with trend reports, articles stating "The Next Big Thing in Year So and So", and the sucesses of the year just gone. These articles are fine, if not repetitive, but as the clock strikes midnight on New Years Eve... the start of the new year is just another day.
Many businesses align straegic initiatives with their financial calendar. It is in fact each financial budgetary review that dictates what resources each department is going to receive in that year in order to deliver on the goals and objectives. So why should everything change just because the clock strikes 12 and the New Year ticks upon us.
So, how do you succeed in 2019?
I was sat with business coach Jan Foo this week, catching up after the New Year and planning for our up coming video interview (follow Jan Foo to watch her incoming video series).
She told me what she thought would be the core elements of marketing success in 2019 (I won’t let the cat out of the bag), and then came around to asking me what I thought was going to be imperative for success in 2019.
I took a minute and considered my response, and whilst I did so, at the forefront of my mind were the recent conversations I’d had with clients and prospects about moving their respective businesses forward this year.
Putting The Foundations In Place
So the first thing I said was the key to marketing success in 2019, was to set goals and objectives.
This sounds like common sense.
But I’m talking about SMART business aligned objectives. Objectives that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely, and working towards the higher level business goals.
These take a bit more work to extract but are vital to enable us to understand what marketing strategies are to be deployed, the activities that need to be undertaken and then the associated ROI of such activities can be calculated.
A smart objective might be - “We want to grow our Monthly Recurring Revenue by 30% over the course of 12 months, 50% as a stretch goal in the same period.”
This is something we can work with.
"As a tool in the business toolkit, marketing should always be aligned to business objectives."
As a tool in the business toolkit, marketing should always be aligned to business objectives. We see businesses quite often considering the objectives of the marketing team in isolation from the wider business goals.
Imagine this, the management team are predicting a good year for the business. This is based on a mixture of past success, board pressure, and optimism. Resources are distributed through the business on the back of these predictions. But… a new competitor enters the market and is a disruptive force, or the economy takes a turn, or a strategically important deal is delayed.
As soon as sales results no longer align to forecasted results within a business, the pressure is on. Management will be looking to curtail spending to meet profit goals, and without the support of wider business goal alignment, marketing spend is often cut considerably.
If you can show how the work your doing is contributing to success for the business as a whole, you can fight your corner.
You Can't Improve What You Can't See
So, then onto my second choice, tracking goal aligned results.
Again, this sounds simple and common practice. I can quickly see how many views of this post there has been relatively easily, as with all the platforms we publish content on.
But this isn’t what I mean…
Too often businesses track superficial metrics that make them feel good about their work. These are often in a little marketing silo where the metrics being measured don’t add anything to the wider business goals.
“Brand awareness” is a useful coverall for metrics collected that don’t show any alignment to the higher level business objectives. Don’t get me wrong, brand awareness is important. We run brand marketing campaigns in our blended marketing strategies, but it’s a formulated approach, being on average only 20% of our focus in the overall strategy context.
Tracking goal aligned results involves matching your objectives with the data that directly indicates success or failure. And this often results in a pyramid approach to reporting.
At the top of our pyramid we find our business objectives, there might be 5 of these, so we have 5 metrics in our top level report that directly align to these objectives.
On the next level down, we identify the key performance indicators that are driving those top 5 metrics. These are the leading indicators that we associate directly with delivering top level success.
And then after this we have the minute details and metrics that showcase the results from each part of our strategy.
This breakdown allows for investigation to be completed in a structured manner. Asking the questions... Are we meeting our goals, what leading indicators are performing / not performing, what element of the strategy is effective / not effective.
Ultimately, leading to a more agile response to fluctuations in results, and when the pressure is on we can see where the issues are.
With the rampant rise of technology, you can now have real-time reports that are updated every 5 minutes.
Reports that are delivering data on each level of the pyramid, giving you the ability to make changes when results might not be going your way or doubling down on strategies that are outperforming expectations.
We no longer have to wait for the monthly/quarterly overview meeting to look at results. These conversations are now taking place in real-time.
And nothing else matters until you’ve got these two things in place.