Like most industries, the field of marketing has digitally transformed, with companies large and small embracing a new generation of digital platforms, apps, and tools to build their brands and gain market share with today’s tech-savvy buyers. While recent technological advances have dramatically reshaped how marketing tasks and initiatives get done, the way many businesses think about marketing remains stuck in the past.
Traditionally, marketing has been viewed by company owners and business line leaders as overhead. That is because as a discipline, marketing is highly labor-intensive, and marketing organizations have long positioned themselves as support arms to sales, operations, and product management teams. But today, it’s time for a marketing transformation.
What Is Marketing Transformation?
While the term “marketing transformation” is fast emerging to describe how modern marketing departments function in the brave new era of Big Tech, most marketing and business professionals struggle to define what the term actually means.
Technology alone is not enough. To realize your brand’s full potential to engage modern, discerning consumers and B2B buyers, you must develop a richer, more holistic marketing transformation strategy for your company – and you must put the right building blocks in place to transform your marketing operations from the cost center it once was into a profit center for the future – tasked with driving business strategy, accelerating growth, generating revenue, and delivering significant ROI.
To help you create this new marketing paradigm, we have identified five key pillars to a successful marketing transformation strategy that every business should follow. Implementing these steps in succession will help your company unlock its full potential now and lay the foundation for future growth and success.
#1: Formulate the Right Strategy
Marketing must be strategic to be successful. As a business owner, you have to ensure that your leadership team includes executive-level representation from marketing, and that marketing has deep access to sales, operational, financial, and marketplace data – and a strong voice in the overall strategy for the company as well.
At a high level, marketing should serve as the driver of growth for your company’s products and services, and your chief marketing officer (CMO) should work closely with your company’s CEO, CFO, COO, and other senior-level executives to:
- Define marketing’s role in the company’s overall growth strategy.
- Determine which markets you are going to focus your attention and resources on.
- Plan how you are going to advance your strategies in these markets.
For example, let’s say you realize that expertise in too many markets is diluting your messaging and bandwidth, so you decide to focus on an industry where you have deep qualifications, like construction. Pitching business should be relatively easy as you can speak to your past successes and produce dozens of references to vouch for your credentials. Then, when you need to produce a thought leadership piece for your company blog or your industry website, you have so many ideas, the task is never a chore.
When focusing your marketing resources, though, you also need to determine which of your markets are fastest growing and apply your resources there. You’ll also need to determine how your products and services meet the unmet needs in the market and drive innovation for the customers you are there to serve. Only then can you develop your messaging, strategy, and go-to-market plan accordingly.
#2: Building the Right Team
To ensure that you have sound strategies guiding your marketing organization, you need leadership. And that generally comes in the form of an experienced CMO who is there to lead the way and assemble a top-notch team of specialists to work on your behalf.
For many businesses, talent will be one of the most expensive aspects of marketing going forward, so it is important to think deeply and critically about which disciplines and skillsets are most important to have to give your organization the competitive advantage it deserves.
Today, a full-time CMO earns anywhere from $250,000 to $350,000 annually or more. This kind of personnel expense can be cost prohibitive for many small and mid-size firms. To tap the expertise needed at the C-suite level without breaking the bank, many businesses are employing a fractional marketing model and bringing in a fractional CMO accordingly.
A fractional marketing model is a form of outsourcing that allows companies to tap top talent in the areas they need to market their goods and services – in the exact amounts of time and in the exact configuration of teams to optimize their personnel investments.
This individual should be a senior-level strategic thinker who is engaged with your brand and committed to working closely with you. And your fractional CMO should have deep industry connections and relationships with the many hires, contractors, and partnering businesses you may wish to employ to execute your go-to-market strategy.
#3: Deploying Advanced Technologies
Once you have your team in place, you can begin thinking about how to empower these individuals with the tools and technologies they need to perform optimally, collaborate effectively, and drive the measurable results your organization is seeking.
Marketing is changing rapidly, and you will need to ensure, for example, that you have a robust marketing automation platform in place to eliminate repetitive tasks – and that the specialists on your team know how to use it. That may take training.
You will also need to invest in a full-featured data analytics platform to help your marketing team gain the insights needed into the behaviors and preferences of your customers to refine strategies and deliver your marketing messages in just the right ways, at the right times and in the right channels to resonate with target audiences. You may have a need for other technologies as well, such as bots that interact with customers within self-service portals or social sites.
As you plan your investments in new marketing technologies, remember that successful marketing is not a game of doing more. It is about figuring out what is working best for your organization – and about doing more of that. To that end, your investments should directly support your strategic strengths, go-to-market plan, and personnel resources in ways that help them work more effectively and efficiently, in concert, and in ways that allow them to deliver results.
#4: Establish Best Practices
Every company should closely monitor their marketing operations and create best practices and playbooks that document what works well, over time, across the many types of projects they undertake. The fact is that your marketing programs will often follow a cyclical pattern whereby the same industry events, seasonal promotions, and product launches occur at the same time each year. Accordingly, you may be implementing the same types of campaigns on a calendared, annual basis.
While the marketing team you have assembled is likely both your biggest expense and your best strategic advantage, it is inevitable that key team members will exit your organization at some point in time – and you must be ready for that.
Having documented best practices and playbooks for important initiatives, such as product launches, annual campaigns, and new market penetration strategies, allows you to mitigate these risks and give any new talent that you bring on board the tools and institutional knowledge they need to contribute successfully as quickly as possible. As a result, you can keep the momentum going, ensuring continuity of performance and delivering tactical excellence, regardless of the length of time each team member has been employed.
#5: Optimizing Performance
The fifth pillar of a successful marketing transformation strategy is performance optimization. One of the biggest mistakes we see in the way marketing departments operate is that they continue to do the same things over and over without stepping back and evaluating what is working for them well – and what is not.
To excel and outperform, especially in highly competitive markets, a marketing team must understand at a granular, measurable level:
- how each component, campaign, and initiative is working for them
- how to make strategies and initiatives perform better
- which practices are not working – and need to be eliminated
For example, marketing teams need to assess their content pieces and determine which are grabbing attention and which fall flat. They need to determine the SEO strategies that are working for them and figure out how to get their brand assets and messages to the top of Page One. These types of strategic analyses should be aided by intelligent analytics technologies and conducted on an ongoing basis.
While marketing is a creative discipline at its core, there is a science driving it, and there should always be a process in place that allows you to apply data to strategic and tactical decisions, and to continue to evolve and improve your processes, strategies, and initiatives as they unfold.
We’re Here to Help
In building a marketing program through our five-pillar approach, your business can meet and exceed strategic goals both financially and operationally – and deliver the brand affinity, qualified leads, and sales increases your company is seeking now and in the future.