What Guides a Great Marketing Team?

There are some marketing teams out there that kick ass despite the odds. How they do it seems to be a mystery.

Something guides them in how they consistently beat their competitors in the long run; deftly taking more marketshare using fewer marketing dollars. Here are a few quick questions to ponder, with some pointers to show you how to assess a marketing team’s performance.

Are the goals of the marketing team aligned with the rest of the organization?

A marketing team’s goals should make sense. I sincerely doubt most CEO’s lose sleep about doubling the company’s Twitter followers from 100 to 200 or growing the email list by 1000 new contacts. A good marketing team will at least attempt to use goals that the rest of the organization agrees on, such as sales, leads, or other measurable, business-relative goals.  A marketing team that needs intervention will be wholly relying on inconsequential metrics like Facebook fans, website “hits”, and press clippings. “Awareness” is often used as a marketing goal, but the difficulty comes in measuring impact on it. Very few companies are actually doing what’s necessary to measure awareness, such as surveying their potential market, which makes “awareness” a lazy, non-starter of a goal. If you’re not measuring it, how do you know which marketing activities impact it the most, if at all? Because of this inability to measure awareness as a goal, most companies are better served setting up explicit goals further down the line at leads or sales instead.

Does the marketing team have a plan?

Is there a marketing plan in effect? Is it recorded? Is it continuously being referred to? A decent marketing plan should have a few key business goals, flexible strategies and tactics designed to hit those goals, and milestones or KPI’s (key performance indicators) to measure progress. Strategies within the plan can succeed or fail because a business plan isn’t meant to be flawless; rather, it should be a flexible roadmap for the future.

Is the marketing team open to putting new (and old) strategies to the test?

What guides the underlying principals of the marketing team? Do they put on events and send newsletters because “that’s what they always do?” When new marketing opportunities arise, do they prioritize accordingly, or is everything process driven? Do they spend 50% of their time sourcing awesome swag and following people on Twitter for the company?  Pareto’s principle dictates that a marketing team will be spending 80% of their time for 20% of the effect. Good marketing teams analyze where they’re getting their results from so that they can continue squeezing out more performance by ditching lower performance activities and focusing more attention on high value ones.

If this sounds like your marketing team, do not despair; this can all be fixed. With strong leadership and a renewed, results-driven approach that steers clear of ‘Witch Doctor’ marketing, you, too, can have a marketing dream team. Ditch “touchie feely” goals that can’t be measured for real business KPI’s that quantify marketing’s impact on the organization.  Build a flexible roadmap to satisfy those goals. Finally, always optimize activities based on impact. There has to be room for experimentation, but there should be no room for activities that steal time and resources from the actions that truly move your business forward.