Five Signs That Your Marketing Department is Rocking it in the Fast Lane!

by Debra Andrews | February 13, 2015

It’s 2015 and marketing is moving fast.  If your marketing department is constantly seeking more cost effective ways to push out your firm’s message and thought leadership in a way that speaks directly to your customers and top prospects, then it gets an A+ for attitude!  According to Brian Miske, Chief Marketing Officer of KPMG, the most successful marketers are technology savvy, proactive change agents.  They look to stay close to the customer and help shape the customer experience.  

As a marketer, all of this is exciting, challenging, inspiring and daunting.  The fear of not staying current keeps me awake at night.  (It could be my adorable pooch’s snoring as well.)  Complacency in the marketing field is a killer.  Miske claims that many marketing departments are becoming antiquated and don’t understand technology, big data, predictive analytics and marketing’s ties with finance.  He believes that 50% of marketers will come from the technology field within five years.  They’ll be innovators, scientists, designers, process creators and visionaries.

So how can you tell if your marketing department is staying current and maybe even one step ahead of the curve?  Here are five signs that indicate your marketing department is likely rocking it in the fast lane:

  • Understands the Importance of Clean Segmented Data:  The amount of marketing noise in 2015 is staggering. This situation will only get worse.  So how can your communications stand out from the crowd?  Ensure every single touch is directly relevant to your customers and target customers.  If you’re like most B2B companies, you serve more than one industry and have multiple buyers and/or influencers involved in the purchase decision. In order to communicate and be heard, your marketing department needs to have an email database segmented by industry, buyer type (persona), geography and stage in the buying cycle.  Most of the marketing departments that I’ve worked with over the past 10 years didn’t have clean, segmented data.  This deficiency is a marketing killer.  As boring and basic as organizing data sounds, it’s an absolutely essential endeavor.
  • Insists on a Customer-Focused, Responsive Website:  In B2B, websites serve as the hub of almost all marketing. Whatever tactics your marketing department is investing in — email marketing, social media marketing, direct mail, search marketing, public relations — a primary goal should be to drive a client or target to your company’s website for further engagement.  A website focused on the user experience (“UX”) will help to maximize the effectiveness of all your company’s communications.  Responsive design is a critical element for an awesome UX.  If your website looks like $#!% on smart phones, your mobile visitors will bounce off.  Google recently announced plans to penalize sites that are not optimized for smart phones.  Why?  Because with close to 50% of web traffic coming from mobile devices, unresponsive sites deliver a terrible UX. If you want to learn more about mobile-ready sites, check out this infographic from First Site Guide about how to make your website mobile-friendly.
  • Kicks and Screams to Stay Close to the Customer:  Why is marketing usually kept far away from the customer? After all, we are charged with communicating targeted, relevant customer-oriented messages, right?  IT DOESN’T MAKE SENSE!  For whatever reason, the sales department talks to customers daily while the marketing department is left to figure out what’s important through an annual customer satisfaction survey (if it can even do that).  Marketing departments that rock are those that push and then push even harder to have frequent communications with customers.  They make their way into sales meetings in order to actively listen to what’s happening outside the office. A+ marketing departments also insert themselves into strategy and product / service development discussions. Departmental silos are not an option as they put marketing in a corner to do its job without having a solid understanding of the customer.
  • Views Social Media Marketing as an Enterprise Initiative:  We already know that stellar marketing departments insist on staying close to the customer.  Social media marketing is a highly effective method for doing just that. Acting as change agents, modern marketing departments are tapping tools that facilitate the use of social media throughout the company.  A recent article published on VB News, Enterprise Social Media Management Tools are Leaving the Marketing Nest According to TrustRadius, details this trend and some of the popular platforms on the market today. “Social media programs are now enterprise-wide and no longer confined to marketing. It’s not because they’re failing at marketing, but rather because companies are finding additional value in leveraging social in other areas. They need to meet customers where they are,” said Vinay Bhagat, CEO of TrustRadius.
  • Automates Manual Processes for Efficiency, Effectiveness and Better Data:  Marketing departments on the cutting edge aren’t afraid to automate what once were manual processes.  They know there are endless initiatives on the horizon to move their companies towards success and are aggressive in finding tools that cut the human capital investment and provide better insight.  Brilliant marketing automation platforms such as HubSpot now tie together many different aspects of marketing, including website, search engine, content, email and social media.  They then sync the results of those activities with a company’s CRM.  Robust reporting offered by marketing automation enables marketers to know what information is preferred by different customer segments.  HubSpot and other platforms that power Inbound Marketing programs and robust lead generation can transform the way marketing departments are viewed within their organizations — no longer as overhead, but as capable of filling the top of the sales funnel in a more cost effective manner than many sales departments.

Keeping these five signs in mind, what grade would you give your marketing department?  If it’s not at least a B+ moving towards an A, it’s time to evaluate what’s holding it back from rocking your organization.  The only way to keep pace with how fast your customers’ worlds are changing is to have your marketing department accelerate its game.  There are no speed limits and the destination is greater market share.  It’s time to take the ride!

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