This article was written by insights marketing expert Steve Henke of Harpeth Marketing.
On September 30th, I’ll be speaking at GreenBook’s Insights Marketing Day, and I am genuinely excited about it. My topic is about how to put together a marketing & sales plan, a critical element in the success of any firm’s revenue growth efforts.
But here’s the thing. Once your plan is done, once your go-to-market strategies are set, once you’ve decided how you’re going to build awareness and generate and nurture sales leads, once the calendar of activities is set and you know how you’re going to measure your results… then the REAL work begins.
It’s time to execute. And that is why so many companies fail at business development… they won’t do the little day-to-day things necessary to be successful.
Here are a couple of examples of where execution falters and marketing often breaks down:
#1: Running an ad
Suppose your marketing & sales plan calls for a banner ad to be posted on the GreenBook website. Simple, right? Yes, but not easy. Consider all of the following steps necessary to make sure it is done right:
- Understand the deadlines from GreenBook.
- Understand the ad specs from GreenBook.
- Ad content – someone has to write it/someone has to approve it.
- Same for design – you need to design it and approve it. Is it consistent with your other marketing? If the designer is outside your firm, do they have the information they need?
- What website page does the ad link to? Is that page updated?
- Will those that click on the ad have the chance to download something? Is that prepared?
- What’s the follow-up plan for any leads generated?
And a dozen other questions related to this.
Are you thinking through and working through these kind of execution details? Do you have all of the bases covered?
#2: Hosting and posting to a blog
Blogs are a great way to engage the marketplace in relevant dialogue. They help with SEO and can position the author/firm as a subject-matter expert and [maybe] a thought leader.
Unfortunately, most blogs we see are very poorly managed, because most firms cannot maintain the level of frequency and consistency necessary for success. It happens like this… you plan to blog once a week, for example, and it goes along like that for a while. Then you get a little busy… and it slips to every two weeks. Then a really big project comes along… and now it’s down to once a month. And so it goes.
The problem is not the blog. The problem is that no thought was given on the front end to the execution. Some things that need to be considered:
- Don’t wing it… start with an editorial calendar so you can plan for the topic you’ll be writing about.
- Does the content integrate with what’s going on at your firm and the services you offer?
- Like the ad above, someone has to write it/someone has to approve it.
- What are your sources for content? Do you have backup writers? What about inviting guest writers?
- Will you allow comments? How often are you checking them and who’s responsible for responding?
- Are you promoting the blog (through email and social media links, for example) to get people to read it? If no one reads it, what’s the point?!
- Is the blog being re-posted on someone’s LinkedIn profile?
With any marketing tactic, there is always a lot to consider. Are you taking the time to do it?
Success in marketing & sales is in the execution of the details – in doing the little things day-in, day-out – and in thinking through all that needs to be done and making sure it happens.
Where it breaks down for most firms is:
- Not thinking through and planning for all those details
- Not having the discipline to follow the plan every day
How do you fix this problem?
Execution success generally comes down to focus. At most firms, the responsibility for marketing is often in the hands of someone who already has a full-time job (e.g., the president/owner or a project manager who does marketing when they can get to it). When marketing is handled like this, it’s rarely successful because the job they’re actually getting paid to do always comes first… and it should.
To make this work, someone at your firm must have primary responsibility for the execution of the marketing plan – not that they will necessarily do it all themselves, but they will make sure it gets done. They serve as the taskmaster. It doesn’t have to be their full-time job, but it must be recognized as a key element of their everyday tasks.
There’s an old story from professional football with an important marketinglesson.
After a particularly difficult loss one Sunday afternoon, John McKay, then the coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, was asked by a sports reporter, “Coach, what do you think of your team’s execution?” To which Coach McKay replied, “I’m in favor of it!”
Like football, success in marketing is in the execution of the details.