Here are a few areas smart marketers can take back to work this fall. Don’t forget to bring along some new pencils, too, for inspiration.

A pencil manufacturer used to imprint its product with this quote: “Every idea is a link in the chain of progress.” Every year, millions of school-age children – with freshly sharpened pencils in every backpack – get the wonderful chance to start a whole new chain of ideas and learning as they go back to school after the summer break. It’s that time again, and it’s hard not to be inspired by the potential of a new school year when it comes to reinvigorating marketing efforts. Here are a few areas smart marketers can take back to work this fall. Don’t forget to bring along some new pencils, too, for inspiration.

  • Better insights, better impact. There’s no substitute for good data to help make smarter decisions. From updating a lead-scoring model or defending a budget request, to defining what will encourage loyalty in an enterprise account, there are facts out there waiting to help you. But before taking a guess, even an educated one, remember that you’re probably not a member of your own audience. Sometimes our experience as marketers gets in the way of opening our minds to what customers, prospects and influencers have to say. We think we should just know what to do, but a better bet is to look for what facts can help you make a more accurate, buyer-focused decision. Next time you need to make a choice, consider what insights would increase your chances of making the best choice. Like building an experiment, start by selecting facts to create a hypothesis. If you start with good information, you’re more likely to be proved right.
  • Customers are people, too. If it’s true that most of a company’s revenue and growth comes from existing customers, why isn’t marketing doing a better job working with them? Perhaps the best growth engine a company has is a loyal, vocal customer community that stays longer and buys more. This does not happen by accident, and it’s not only about the quality of what’s being sold. Marketing’s homework this fall must be to develop a detailed understanding of the customer lifecycle and then create a plan to support it. It’s fine to start by identifying new buying opportunities, but don’t let this limit you. Positive, non-selling interactions can ultimately prove to be the best sales tactic.
  • It’s not what you execute, it’s how. Marketing doesn’t have a huge number of new or fancy tactics to add to its metaphorical backpack. Even “social” and “mobile” can hardly be thought of as new, despite the fact that not everyone has jumped on the bandwagon. The key is to implement even basic tactics more effectively. Beware, though. Better execution isn’t only about choosing the nicest venue for an event or a subject line that avoids all spam traps. It is about being relevant to the audience you want to reach and providing them with something useful they won’t get from anyone else. Use that to grade the output of your next planning meeting.