Mathew Sweezey is principal of marketing insights for Salesforce. He's also a popular speaker about the future of marketing, and he has worked with the likes of NATO, MIT, NASCAR, Verizon, and Dell. He's also the author of Marketing Automation for Dummies. His forthcoming book, Context, is due out in 2018.
I invited Mathew to Marketing Smarts to discuss what differentiates high-performing marketing organizations from the rest. Based on research that encompassed 7,500 businesses around the world, Mathew's team identified five keys to creating a high-performing marketing organization.
Here are just a few highlights from our conversation:
High-performance marketing isn't about tactics, it's about five organizational traits, the first of which is executive buy-in (04:11): "It boils down to five key things. The first thing we need to think about is executive buy-in, because what we've found is that those [high-performing] companies don't just have better marketing, they really have an executive buy-in to a new idea of what marketing means, which is something very different. Traditionally, you're looking at businesses that think marketing's role is to connect people with products, but when we look at the high performers, they actually have a different idea of what marketing means. They see what they're selling as an experience, rather than just the products themselves.
High-performance marketing requires a significant (and ever-increasing) investment (04:57): "We saw the next most critical factor were budgets. The high performers have significantly higher budgets and they're continuing to grow at significantly higher rates. Currently, at the rate that high performers are investing, their budgets at the lowest level...was an annual increase of 39% in a budget. If you compound that number over any number of years, what you realize is that 39% compounded annually...is actually doubling at a rate of every 1.8 years."
Invest in technology to personalize the customer experience at every touchpoint (06:15): "The next big key thing we found was technology.... The main goal of all that technology...was creating a personal customer experience across every touchpoint: not just the touchpoints between marketing and getting somebody to buy, but the entire touchpoints from the first time this person enters the company's audience all the way through to advocacy of customers. All of that technology was focused on creating personalized experiences for each individual at every one of those touchpoints.
Make your marketing agile if you want to outperform the competition (07:44): "We found that 52% of all high performers operate with agile workflows, compared with just 5% of underperformers, so that was highly critical."
A marketing team divided against itself cannot stand (or at least can't perform well) (07:57): "The last key was the idea of collaboration. If you go back to the notion that tools are being focused on creating a cohesive customer experience across the entire life cycle—and it's not just customer experience, it's going to be subscriber experience, audience experience, it's going to be all of the above. Everything is an experience. That's what we're selling, not just products, and marketers need to be the owners and sustainers of that experience. This creates a problem, because marketing has always been a siloed department. It's been off on its own, and now it has to go across the entire business."
Negotiate a "stretch" budget for your marketing, so you'll be ready to double-down on your successes (23:13): "There's an idea we've come up with called the 'stretch budget.' The stretch budget is no different than a line of credit—it's pre-negotiated, the terms are preset, and there's money set aside that you can access when those terms are met. Those are the three key conditions.
"So when you're sitting down with your boss doing your annual budgets, we need to think about the way that people look at budgets. Budgets are a financial tool, and those financial tools follow the idea that we invest money where we get the highest returns. So what you should say is, 'Listen, give me $10,000 and set it aside, and we'll call that a 'stretch budget.' I can access that $10,000 if I ever hit a stretch marketing goal.
"Let's say you've got a webinar and your goal for the webinar is 300 attendance, but you actually hit 450 attendees or registrants. Now, you did something that far surpassed your goal. Whatever that tactic was [that overdelivered], you should double-down on that tactic. And now you have that stretch budget, which says, 'We met our stretch goal, now I've got $10,000 to go double-down on that tactic in some other arena.'
"This accomplishes two things: One, it takes that negotiation off the table. When you have that great idea and you go back and ask for the budget, they're going to say, 'Sorry, we don't have that budget there.' But if ahead of time you say, 'Hey, if I find something that gets us a return on investment of X or accomplishes our goals 50% greater than we thought, we should double-down on that,' and they'll agree with you up front, 'Yes, we should....' Now you've got money to prove out your idea, which means next budgeting cycle, you say, 'Hey, remember all those things we did, well we need more money this year to do those things again,' and that's how you can snowball those things together."
Mathew and I talked about much more, including how your company should get started with agile marketing, so be sure to listen to the entire show, which you can do above, or download the mp3 and listen at your convenience. Of course, you can also subscribe to the Marketing Smarts podcast in iTunes or via RSS and never miss an episode!
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Music credit: Noam Weinstein.
Mathew Sweezey, principal of marketing insights for Cloud computing company Salesforce. Get your copy of Mathew's book, Marketing Automation for Dummies, and learn more about Mathew at MathewSweezey.com. You can follow him on Twitter @msweezey.