By Michael Cannon
In part One; we reviewed the 4 biggest obstacles to improving marketing effectiveness and the solution to the first three root-cause issues including:
- Poor visibility into the true cost of ineffective customer communication
- Lack of clear differentiation among messaging, content, and tactics.
- Inaccurate model of the categories, styles, and types of messaging required for market success.
Part 2 takes us through 4-9:
4) Misguided priority setting. Messaging is not seen as the only item that has the greatest impact on the effectiveness of all your customer communications (content and sales conversations). Additionally, marketing teams are rewarded for the quantity of content produced to launch and support products, rather than the effectiveness of content, i.e., how well does it support the buyer’s decision process and the sales team’s ability to support that process?
Solution: Reset your priorities. Acknowledge that messaging is “the fuel” on which your marketing and sales engines run. Then reprioritize and renegotiate deliverables with stakeholders so that you have the resources and time needed to produce more persuasive messaging and more influential content. It’s far better to produce fewer, more effective pieces of content than the other way around, as is the norm today.
5) Erroneous business model for allocating sales and marketing resources. A large percentage of the channel readiness work needed to enable the channel (field sales, inside sales, customer service, and channel partners) to successfully sell the value of the company’s products and services is not clearly defined across the marketing and channel organizations. The impact is that the resources required to complete the channel readiness work are not allocated correctly, or are underfunded. Studies indicate that 15-20% of the channel readiness work is done by the channel, one rep at a time and one deal at a time, as the high-level descriptive messaging is translated into persuasive messaging/conversations. From a business-model perspective, wouldn’t it be more effective to have Marketing do more of this work and then leverage it over your entire channel organization? The answer is an obvious yes, but tasking Marketing to do more of the channel readiness work, even if it wants to, will have limited success.
Most marketing organizations are already resource-constrained and unable to fulfill many of their commitments. The business model restricts the reallocation and reprioritization of sales and marketing resources needed to increase performance.
Solution: Gain a clear understanding of how much time and effort your channel invests into re-creating messaging and collateral — and why they do it — and calculate the dollar value of the work. Then create a channel-readiness model that defines the customer communication (messaging and content) needed to support the buy cycle, from lead generation to retention, and agree on which stakeholder is responsible for creating each deliverable. Combine this work with the ideas above, and you will have a much better business model for correctly allocating sales and marketing resources to drive greater market success.
6) Ineffective new product development process or commercialization process. In addition to fixing the business model, the new product development process (NPDP) must be revised. The NPDP in most companies focuses on how to bring new products and capabilities to market quickly. While these capabilities are typically wanted by the target customer, they are often not highly aligned with solving meaningful customer business problems and, in particular, the ones that the customer would be willing to pay money to get. Additionally, the NPDP produces mostly high-level descriptive messaging and content, resulting in less-effective channel readiness tools and slower customer adoption.
About 50% of all new products end up failing.
Solution: For greater market success, reframe the product-development process into a customer-development process. You can move in this direction by integrating persuasive messaging and Geoffrey Moore’s Technology Adoption Life Cycle into the NPDP, starting at product definition. Combine this work with #5 above and you will have a much more effective process for bringing successful new products to market.
7) Lack of method and skills to create the most persuasive messaging. Addressing the systemic issues above is necessary to increase customer relevancy, but it’s not enough. This is because, as a whole, the marketing profession does not have a repeatable process for “how to” create highly persuasive messaging. The research referenced above clearly supports this observation. What’s been missing up until recently are objective criteria to evaluate messaging effectiveness prior to testing or launch and a methodology to create highly persuasive messaging. It’s a significant gap in Marketing’s tool kit.
Solution: Use the criteria above to assess the effectiveness of your current content and deliverables. If there is a meaningful gap, then create an internal core competency around persuasive messaging. The fastest and most cost-effective way to do this is by hiring a firm that has expertise in enabling organizations to successfully define, create, and deploy the most persuasive messaging, and engage customers with the most influential communications (content and conversations). If the skill set was easy to develop with your current resources, many of the problems discussed in this article would not exist.
8) Poor alignment around the definition, rating, hand-off, follow-up, and reporting of leads. There must be a Dilbert cartoon for this infamous pain point between Marketing and Sales. Marketing complains that it produces lots of leads but Sales does not follow up. Sales complains that the leads are mostly suspect, and thus useless, and/or too time-consuming to chase.
Solution: Create a sales and marketing effectiveness task force and empower it to create a solution around these items. Stop treating lead generation as a one-off campaign, and start treating it as part of the customer-development business process. Then automate the business processes with a marketing automation platform, and use persuasive messaging as the secret ingredient to achieve the best demand-generation results.
9) Limited sales experience. Some believe that marketing professionals will always struggle to be relevant to customers because most have little-to-no sales experience. They lack fundamental knowledge of what customers need (messaging and content) to make a good buying decision and what Sales needs (messaging, sales support training, and sales tools) to enable the customer to make a good buying decision.
Solution: While having a policy to hire more marketing professionals with sales experience and/or to rotate marketing professionals into Sales, or visa versa, makes sense, it’s often a time-consuming and expensive long-term solution. By implementing one or more of the ideas in this article, you can cost-effectively enable Marketing to understand what its internal and external customers really need to be more successful and how to give it to them.
Use these 9 strategies to make your marketing more effective – to create greater competitive differentiation, and to be a driving force behind faster revenue growth.
|Resources to Implement the Most Influential Customer Communications
Michael Cannon is an internationally renowned marketing and sales effectiveness expert, best-selling author, speaker and an authority on enabling B2B companies to engage customers with the most influential communications. For more information visit www.silverbulletgroup.com