Whether you’re a Dr. Seuss or Longfellow fan – or are a marketing leader looking to significantly improve your ability to focus on customers … you’ll want to read on.
Listen, my reader, and you shall hear
Of all the biases this analyst holds dear
But before you decide to condemn or agree
Read on, and consider, “What if it could be?”
What if we could be structured in a sensible way
And help marketing help sales win more deals today?
With apologies to Longfellow and Dr. Seuss (as well as all my English professors) for the opening attempt at a sonnet, forget, for a moment, everything you know about how to structure a marketing function. As the saying goes, “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” Right now, there are three areas that senior marketing leaders can examine to significantly improve their ability to focus on customers:
- Customer marketing. First, let’s talk customers. Yes, I said customers, not buyers. Led by organizations with subscription or recurring revenue models, more companies have come to recognize that delivering value to current customers is the best investment for growth. This creates not just higher renewal rates, but also higher growth rates from existing customers, which is more profitable than delivering a steady stream of brand new logos to meet revenue goals. Customer who have excellent experiences become loyal advocates willing to speak to their peers about why they should buy from you, which is the best marketing you can get. Other benefits are lower customer support costs and more customer participation in various activities, which make a good business a great one. The perfect marketing organization aligns people and programs to support the customer experience, and not simply so customers buy more. This is a real foundation for growth.
- Account-based marketing (ABM) layers. Now let’s talk buyers. How does your sales organization (or partner structure) segment accounts? Does it have a set of large, strategic accounts that need one-to-one marketing support? A list of named or target accounts some reps must focus on? A set of territories that require broad-based demand creation? Now, look at your field marketing and demand creation structure. How close does it come to helping sales with each segment? For most marketing functions, it doesn’t, but this is not a hard fix. What does it take to align investment in programs and people (usually in field marketing) to the types of accounts sales is structured to support? To begin with, don’t ask one field marketing person to do all of these jobs. Instead, structure a support system based on the portfolio of account types and growth goals. Look across the field marketing function and distinguish where skill sets naturally align (e.g. ABM or broad-based demand generation). Most companies have plenty of room for both, leading to happier field marketers who can play to their strengths. The amount of resources in each segment depends on the number of accounts and the amount of growth expected from that group.
- Customer advocacy. The third opportunity is around content, specifically from customers. According to multiple studies – including SiriusDecisions studies – existing customers are the most trusted sources of information. Usually the number of marketers in charge of encouraging advocacy is too small to fully exploit customers’ willingness to help. Also, marketers are usually distributed – separate people run the sales reference program, manage the online community, help with events and create customer stories and case studies. This makes participating in advocacy confusing for customers and hard for marketing to scale. An aligned effort to nurture, activate and harvest customer advocacy is the best investment any company can make to create and curate content customers really want. Shift some resources away from creating content that doesn’t get used and into advocacy support, where it can really help.