5 Strategies for Hitting Marketing Expectations Consistently

April 20, 2018
by Christine Viera
  • 5 Strategies for Hitting Marketing Expectations Consistently

What’s Shaping Our Experience in 2018 

Why is marketing today any different from the past? The way I see it, there are 5 key market forces shaping marketing success in 2018. Peg Miller and I outlined the impact of each of these trends in Marketing Through the Maze: The 5 Forces We Face in 2018.

1. Digital Transformation

2. Customer Experience

3. Content Marketing Evolution

4. Marketing Technology

5. Expectations

To thrive today, you need to be great at digital business, customer experience (CX), content marketing, tech stack management, and engaging buyers and employees effectively. Oh and nothing stays the same for long. Expect technology and CX needs to be in constant flux. And, plan for turnover on your team. A Gallup report on the Millennial generation reveals that 21% changed jobs within the past year, which is more than three times the number of non-Millennials who report the same.  


This Rang a Bell

The more we talked about it with friends after we wrote the blog, the more we heard that the change in “expectations” was the main source of stress for many.

Why? Because marketing leaders need to deliver results by engaging people while juggling these other 4 areas of marketing. Plus, we’re on the hook for regular day-to-day marketing activity. With the average tenure for chief marketing officers dropping from 44 months to 42 months, rest assured…it’s not just you facing this. That statistic is a “decline of six months, or 13%, over the last two years.”


5 Strategies for Hitting Expectations Consistently

Yes, it’s a tightrope walk. But, it’s also an opportunity to create a strategy to enjoy the challenges and build relationships along the way. Here are 5 ways that top marketers manage the high wire act.


1. Use qualified, proven marketing agencies and freelancers for specialty expertise.

Every marketer—whether you work in the Fortune 500 or at a startup—needs good agencies and freelance talent on tap. While you may not have budget today, you should still know which agencies specialize in your market or deliver unique marketing expertise. So, when you’re asked to support a fire drill or urgent new effort on the fly, you can say “yes if I have funds for these resources.” Even if you don’t have any specific business needs now, these professionals still want to be on your short list for future consideration.


2. Be focused and pragmatic about the customer experience challenges you address.

My recommendation is to start with one high impact challenge as a focus. It should be:

  • A major dissatisfier to customers
  • A problem your leadership team cares about
  • Something you can influence or directly impact

A good way to pick the right focus is to facilitate discussion with key employees and advisors to define the problem and select a high priority issue. Engage the same leaders in setting the goal for what good looks like. Next, continuously engage these stakeholders in discovery, planning, and execution. Keep a steady cadence of meetings and collaboration that deliver tangible progress. In short, make it a winning process and lead your team to outcomes they can be proud of. It’s the focus + engagement + process that pave the path to success.


3. Embed content marketing into standard marketing work.

Content marketing has reached the peak of the hype cycle. It’s time to stop talking about content strategy, and just move on to harnessing the skills of marketers to deliver the contributions you need.

How? Set standards. Define what makes content customer-oriented. Define what content qualities salespeople prefer. (Bonus points if you create sales-friendly content standards with your sales team.) Use marketing data to show what content gets viewed by prospects and customers. Do the same for what salespeople download or vote as their favorite content pieces. Make it fun rather than academic. Who doesn’t like a top 5 or 10 list of things to remember?

Then, figure out the step-by-step process of coordinating high quality delivery from your marketing experts. Naturally, it’s best if you keep it simple. If needed, give your marketers templates and record the simple process in a video or visual. That’ll make change natural and make it easy for newcomers to step right into your content machine.

You get it. It’s just time to make modern, relevant content the SOP (standard operating procedure.) Get past evangelizing ‘change’ and ‘disruption’. Instead, make the process of change seamless and natural. You’ll get better results.


4. Be planful in building your martech stack.

No one loves martech more than us. That said, we’ve seen marketers lean too far over their skis by hitting these avoidable issues. By setting expectations that align martech investments to outcomes and employee adoption best practices, you’ll gain more traction as you introduce new solutions.

  • Buying too much tech at once. It’s hard to deploy, train, and gain results as users struggle to learn new processes and technology all at once. You risk slowing down results and losing support. Instead, choose new tools that offer tangible ROI to your company as a priority. Deploy those first.
  • Buying technology and immediately customizing, expanding scope. It’s best to start with the out-of-the-box main features before you off-road or customize software. Unfortunately, most cave into this temptation. Really, really…try not to do it. If you stick to the basics at first, you’ll accelerate adoption and have earlier wins while reducing the risk of troubled deployments.
  • Enabling the Wild West of technology trial. While it’s fun to try new tech, watch out for 10 different people trying different tools for the same thing. In bigger companies, it’s common to find 10 different teams using 3 different versions of a marketing platform. It creates a disjointed experience for prospects, drives costs up, and makes it harder execute marketing tactics. It’s really best to coordinate tech stack purchases for the major platforms that multiple teams will use. You’ll be more successful in deploying martech that drives measurable value. Also, it can be surprisingly hard to get out of contracts. If folks are trialing or using this and that, contract terms could invisible to you and scattered across the business. Watch out for those auto-renew clauses and cost ramps.

5. Have a process for keeping executive stakeholders close to your 1-2 biggest programs.

Rather than just take a big challenge and run off to tackle it, create an executive process that’s simple, easy, and focused on decisions. It’s important to keep executives close to your work. Rather than suggest a process—which could sound like red tape, plan it and start executing it. You’ll know quickly whether you’re wasting your executives’ time, or if you’re keeping them engaged on high value work. So, choose your executive focus programs carefully. Select only those most important to your customers, revenue goals, sales teams, and business impact. When your executives are close to the key work, it’s easy to manage expectations as programs evolve.

Do you have other tips for managing marketing expectations? Feel free to comment. We’d love to hear from you.


High energy, inspired B2B Marketer. Lessons learned largely in high tech and communications industries where I've worked with very smart folks, on very cool things, in very dynamic environments. I like helping others navigate people, tech, programs, and problems with vision, courage, and impact. All opinions are solely my own.

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