Every marketer needs to align their marketing plans to the strategic goals of their business–it’s a critical component of Marketing Performance Management.
In fact, our research found that companies with strong growth are 2X more likely to align marketing KPIs directly to their contribution to the business, underscoring the need for all marketing teams to operate in lock-step with company objectives.
Our strategic marketing planning tool helps marketing teams do a better job defining objectives from the top down, communicate and track them across the entire organization. PowerPoint just doesn’t cut it in an age of marketing technology and accountability.
We talked to seven B2B marketing industry experts to get their advice on strategic planning. Here’s what we heard:
1. Matt Heinz – President, Heinz Marketing
“Focus on metrics you can buy a beer with. Align directly with the goals of the sales organization. Prioritize objectives that your CFO already cares about.”
2. Justin Gray – Founder and CEO, LeadMD
“My advice to any marketer leading up to a strategic planning process is to establish benchmarks, honest and predictable benchmarks. Marketing suffers big time from shiny object syndrome, the newest, hippest technology or trend gets all of the attention. But as we are all ping ponging from one new idea to the next we never bring with us a baseline to measure these buzz-worthy new toys against.
Simply put, you MUST have marketing’s contribution to pipeline and revenue measurable and transparent. Sounds like a no-brainer but when you look at our most recent benchmarking study measuring these critical KPI’s is a huge struggle for today’s marketers. Only when you can demonstrate your starting point will you be able to show value in a new investment.”
3. Ann Handley – Chief Content Officer, MarketingProfs
“Think about how your content story aligns with your strategic plans, and how this can set you apart; don’t create me-too content. See how I tucked “strategic” in that last sentence? That’s because you need to avoid the dreaded RAOCs (Random Acts of Content). They live in the fire-swamp. And they will siphon time and attention away from the objectives that truly matter to the business.”
4. Laura Patterson – President, VisionEdge Marketing Inc.
“Based on over two decades of international Marketing Performance Management experience, we have identified four best practices of Marketing organizations that get an “A” from the C-Suite for their ability to prove Marketing’s value, impact, and contribution.
The most successful Marketing teams develop and deploy plans that are customer-centric, outcome-based, data-informed, and consist of impact-to-value™ metrics chains, at the business level. The chains in these plans contain and depict the connective tissue between the work and investments of Marketing and what determines business success (beyond revenue).”
5. Samantha Stone – Revenue Catalyst, Author, Founder & CMO
The Marketing Advisory Network–Unleash Possible
“When building a strategic plan marketers need to let go of traditional top of funnel metrics, and instead focus their efforts on business impact. This requires the development of organizational objectives, not just campaign goals, against which each action can be measured. For large, complex organizations, a strategic planning tool can provide the needed framework for collaborating across regions, functional areas, and customer segments.”
6. Debbie Qaqish – Principal & Chief Strategy Officer, The Pedowitz Group
“Structure follows strategy. Too often CMO’s don’t create the right organizational structure needed to operationalize a new strategy.
Today’s CMO is looking at significant changes in strategy as they are now responsible for revenue growth and for customer engagement. Either one of these two strategies would require a review of the current organizational structure to see if it would support the strategy. Now, imagine two.
Over the past 5 years we have seen an increasing amount of pressure on the B2B CMO to adopt financial accountability and now the customer engagement strategy. Only about a third of CMOs report any long-term financial metrics and many are still trying to figure out what customer engagement means to marketing, to the company, and to the customer. Structure is what enables strategy–so don’t be afraid to shake it up.”
7. Craig Moore – Marketing Operations Strategies Service Director, SiriusDecisions
“The key to a good marketing plan is to make sure that it’s aligned with the objectives of the business, that you can actually execute it, and that it’s flexible enough to be effective after something changes. As with almost everything in business, planning is a people-intensive effort that requires communication, both frequently and repeatedly. When you have good alignment around what marketing should be doing, then getting it done is easier and more appreciated.”