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(Part 2 of 2: 5 Ways to Prepare for Rebirth)

If you're at a loss for how to plan your marketing programs in the current economy, take a clue from nature. In natural systems, chaos and destruction are always followed by rebirth. If you've been burned by the recession now is the time to start planting seeds.

In part one of this two-part series, we looked at five low- or no-cost initiatives you can pursue to shore up your marketing organization. In part two, we'll now look at five initiatives to prepare for rebirth.

The core fundamentals should be readily apparent—communication, intelligence, action—but if one concept sums it up: It's all about building and maintaining relationships.

1. Map your sales pipeline.
There are few more reliable indicators of the future health of a company than a snapshot of the sales pipeline. It's like a satellite image of the battlefield. Tracking your pipeline from marketing through sales and customer service gives you the intelligence not only to plan your budget, but to see major market shifts before they reach your bottom line.

The current carnage in the marketplace isn't surprising when you consider that the vast majority of mature businesses don't track their pipeline further than hot leads and closes.

It doesn't matter if you use a 7-step pipeline or a 10-step pipeline, a prepackaged model or something you sketch out on the back of a napkin. The point is to clearly understand the step-by-step process by which prospects are attracted and turned into loyal customers.

In this day and age, it's important to note that simply buying a sales force automation tool will not solve your problem—and for many companies will be a waste of resources.

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Christopher Kenton Mr. Kenton is president and senior strategist at Cymbic, a full service marketing agency and consultancy (www.cymbic.com). Cymbic specializes in positioning and marketing technology products and businesses. He can be reached at ckenton@cymbic.com.