I first wrote about Integrated Marketing best practices in my book: Marketing Campaign Development: what marketing executives need to know about architecting global integrated marketing campaigns. This strategic approach to Campaign management and program blueprints continues to be an acknowledged best practice within B2B companies. I recommend this how-to operations book for CMOs, marketing operations managers, and integrated campaign managers.
Q1: What is your primary marketing objective?
Most CEOs view marketing as a “dark art”. They know they need it, but they don’t understand it. As we enter 2023, marketers can do their companies (and their careers) a favor by demystifying their plans and recommendations. The first step in doing this is to be laser focused on supporting the primary business objective. Consider these examples of possible marketing objectives that support a central business objective. Notice that these follow the SMART guideline – specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-related.
- Business objective: To achieve X% revenue growth by breaking into (or expanding) a new market and capturing Y% market share within 2 years.
Possible supporting marketing objectives (owned by the CMO):
- To build awareness and credibility by growing our share-of-voice X% in a specific region or market segment by introducing (our new product) and maintaining an active presence with industry analysts, editors, and key influencers.
- To establish a market leadership position by displacing (key competitor) in X key accounts in 2023 by showing how, why, and where our solutions are better (or more cost effective).
- To contribute 3X pipeline* within 2 years (compared to 2022 baseline) to support the sales team by producing and executing thematic, carefully timed Integrated Marketing Campaigns that clearly show how our product roadmap addresses customer priorities and pain points.
* Note: I believe that measuring MQLs as the primary metric is outdated. It implies that marketing and sales are separated by objectives and encourages finger pointing. “Sales pipeline growth” is best managed as an integrated objective. For me, I think in terms of two elements of the funnel: 1) getting “at bats” (or opportunities to start a meaningful conversation – but these are not yet MQLs), and 2) SALs or sales accepted leads. MQLs are still measured; but treat them as an indicator, not the gold-standard metric.
The CMO sets the central marketing objective. Then every marketing department (product marketing, demand gen, SEO, events, PR, marketing ops, etc.) set their OKRs (objectives, key activities, and results) to support the CMO’s objective. There really is no other choice but to get back to basics.
- Stop the marketing popcorn. A busy marketer is not an effective marketer! The “ready, fire, aim” approach to marketing has never worked, and it won’t work now. If your budget, team, and available resources have been heavily trimmed, you must ensure that every marketing tactic you execute supports a primary business objective.
- Every department’s leader should draft their OKRs (objectives, key activities, and results) and integrate them with the entire marketing team AND ensure they support the sales and customer support teams.
- Break down internal silos. No longer can your SEO priorities be managed in a vacuum. No longer can your Press Relations team be managed separately from your demand gen activities. “Integrated Marketing” is the priority now more than ever. It’s the only way to make your limited budget produce results.
Q2: In 2023, what if your only customers are your current customers?
It is quite possible that acquiring new logos next year will be much harder. Despite all the clever copy you create, every prospective customer will be thinking more carefully about where they invest. For them, keeping the status quo is safer than making a bet on a new service, product, or application. So, where does this leave you?
If your only customers next year are your current customers, how will this change your approach to marketing?
- Focus on turning your customers into advocates. Partner with your customer success organization. Your customer success team now represents the best opportunities for business growth. How can you help them so they can be more effective in training and nurturing your champions within each of your customers? Consider yourself part of their team.
- Establish a Customer Advisory Board. Your business growth will likely be slowed in 2023, but don’t let that discourage you from investing in your current customers. Use your CAB to listen to them. Listening builds empathy and trust – even if revenue stalls. When times improve (and they will!), their growth will fuel yours.
- Play the long game by doubling down on “thought leadership”. Trying to spike sales with short term gimmicks in 2023 could turn off potential customers. Nobody likes to be sold to – especially now. Instead, invest in PR, Analyst Relations, and Influencer Marketing to encourage other people to talk about you. Focus on sharing industry trends and drivers and how companies are using your products and services to achieve their business objectives. But don’t sell. Be the advisor before you become their vendor. This approach to B2B marketing always works in the long run. Always!
Q3: Are you executing truly Integrated Marketing Campaigns?
As a marketing strategist, I’ve always been dismayed that the marketing tools we all use consider the word “campaign” to be tactical. I think of the word “Campaign” a strategic. It’s with a capital C as if I’m a general directing my troops to “take that hill”. The Campaign is designed to achieve a specific result, but there can be many ways (many combinations of marketing activities and offers) used to achieve it. As a CMO, I manage to the objective, not the tactic.
So, Google Adwords does not equal a “Campaign”. A singular email does not constitute a “Campaign” even though the tools you use will call it one.
- I recommend that a marketing department of ANY size should have no more than three “Integrated Marketing Campaigns” where each Campaign is tied directly to a CMO objective (which ties back to the business objective).
- While there is an infinite combination of tactics that can be used to support a Campaign, thankfully they can be neatly rolled up into seven programs. (As a CMO, this is how I compartmentalize and keep my sanity. It also helps me communicate clearly with my CEO.)
- Awareness & Thought Leadership
- Competitive Replacement
- Cross-sell / Up-sell
- Migration (mainly used by hardware companies)
- New Customer Acquisition
- Nurturing (prospects)
- For each marketing program, create a blueprint. A program blueprint is literally a flow chart of the activities, offers, and messages you will use throughout the lifespan of the program and the Campaign it supports.
For 2023, I recommend you pick only three and focus on executing these throughout the year. Perhaps: Awareness/Thought Leadership, Cross-sell/Up-sell, and Nurturing. While there will always be activities that fall outside of these programs, that is okay. But strive to make 80% of your proactive marketing investment support the three program types you choose.
One company showcased their blueprints by printing them on posterboards and pinning them outside the executive offices. This went a long way to demystify marketing. The leadership team could easily track what marketing was doing. This was a great boost to morale and confidence. Sales reps and marketers were seen giving each other high-5s in the hall!
Build your 2023 Integrated Marketing Plan now
It will take you and your team three months to build your plan (in partnership with sales and customer success teams!) and finalize a budget. The process of planning can be cumbersome if it is not grounded in a central objective. The goal is to have the marketing team working effectively, not harder. Once the plan is established, and blueprints are created, it becomes much easier to execute. It demystifies the process. And you’ll benefit from a level of true partnership with your sales colleagues, more than you have probably enjoyed before.
Mike Gospe leads KickStart Alliance, a marketing leadership consulting team. An expert in Integrated Marketing, Program Blueprint Design, and Product Launch Plans, he guides CMOs and their teams to improve their marketing ROI. He also facilitates marketing planning workshops and Sales & Marketing Summits.
Mike also fills in as an Interim CMO for B2B companies retooling to grow from $50M – $100+M ARR (annual recurring revenue).
Contact Mike to learn more.