How To Combat Marketing’s Greatest Enemy: Time

This article was originally published on MarketingLand.com. Shared with the author’s permission.

In recent days I’ve started thinking about our second half of 2019 plan and came across an old file, a 2018 planning deck. I looked through a few slides, remembering how much time my team had put into getting campaigns aligned, our calendar precisely mapped out, and priorities outlined.

We barely followed any of it. As the boxer Mike Tyson once said, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.”

Though we’re not in a boxing ring, the sentiment applies to marketing: needs and priorities change in the blink of an eye, other trends emerge and pull you in different directions, new executives shakeup the vision for your business strategy. And none of that you can truly plan for.

Marketers like planning because it gives us a sense of control, organization and vision for how things will rollout. While we go to painstaking lengths to create these plans that detail our actions, though, the market is evolving. By the time you’ve conceived the perfect plan, it’s no longer what the market needs anymore.

Time is the magical, but a forgotten ingredient in many marketing initiatives. But our antiquated “planning” mindset hinders us in today’s always-on world. Instead, you need to foster a scrappy mindset amongst your team. At its heart, marketing at its heart is about putting out a message. Scrappy marketing is about doing that quickly and resourcefully. Don’t worry about getting things perfect,; worry about getting things done.

Here’s how you can maximize your team’s time, get scrappy and get ahead of your competitors.

Become a trusted, go-to resource

All of us have websites we visit every day and trust. These have usually been news organizations, but more than ever there are brand voices that provide valuable content and insights. From CMO.com by Adobe or Woolly Magazine by Casper, more consumers are looking to brands for their expertise and opinions.

Developing your brand into a trusted news source is therefore a double-edged sword: readers are more receptive to taking your content seriously and engaging with it. But there’s more competition and noise than before. It’s critical that you carve out a strong voice and identify the areas where you truly want to be a thought leader. It’s best to start with a narrow focus and gain credibility for your expertise than to go broad initially and not be taken seriously. You can always expand the number of topics you discuss.

Many of us trust or don’t trust certain news sources in our personal lives; and that mindset is starting to bleed into our professional lives, too, as more people view brands as news producers themselves. You want your audience to trust and rely on your company’s insights.

Distinguish from competitors by being always on

The news cycle is 24 hours a day, and can change in the time it takes to publish a single Tweet. If your marketing is not always on as well, you’re already behind. You need to have a relentless, steady stream of content that’s ready for your audience whenever they are.

How so? Have a proactive, not reactive marketing strategy. Develop avenues to get real-time feedback from customers and prospects to understand what they’re most curious or concerned about, and adapt your marketing accordingly. This feedback will help you discover where there’s white space in your industry, and what you should focus on when it comes to content creation.

Then develop the channels to get that content out – like a webinar series with weekly insights. Conductor’s 30 | 30 webinar, which recaps the last 30 days in search, social and content, is a good example. So is App Annie’s weekly Mobile Minute blogs, which provides insights into how mobile is impacting current events and consumer trends.

Whatever your channel, don’t let perfect get in the way of good. If there’s a news cycle that’s breaking and set to impact your market, do a quick video or webinar explaining what it means for your audience and what they should be watching for in the days to come. Send out an email with a couple paragraphs explaining the latest trend in simple, digestible bits of content. Re-use that email copy for blog and social posts. Share a quote from your CEO with relevant journalists who can copy and paste it into articles they are working on about this breaking story. Creating a strong voice is half the battle, but beating your competitors to the punch is also vital.

Structuring your team for success

You can’t plan for the unexpected, but you can create a flexible team. As a marketing leader, think about how your team is structured: are channels from demand gen to brand to public relations siloed? In reality, what aspects of marketing aren’t related to demand gen, brand, and your public relations? They’re all interwoven and when you’re siloed by channel, that’s the opposite of agile marketing.

Agile marketing is about an integrated scrum mindset, where all can collaborate and move things forward, together. Marketing shouldn’t be an assembly line, with team members waiting on others to finish their job to keep the ball rolling. That’s why siloed teams create execution gaps. So if you’re struggling to get your team all pulling in the same direction, you should revamp your team’s organization to be agile and react in real-time. Just remember that any moment spent waiting to publish is a moment where a prospect could be consuming your content. Through an always-on approach, scrappy, agile marketing allows you to build both visibility and engagement as your prospects enter the buying journey.

As you gear up for your second half plans for 2019, know that you’ll have to always create a general outline of priorities and initiatives. But ensure that everyone understands how much these priorities will (and should) change. If you are doing quality marketing and if you truly value your prospect’stime, then your marketing will actually be aligned with the times — and not with any rigid, outdated plan.

How Can We Humanise the Digital Marketing Experience?

Each month, the team at ON24 puts together Insight50 – where we provide fellow Webinerds with 50 minutes of expert insight and answer the questions that are important to you.

One of our recent sessions was on humanising the digital marketing experience. With just about every marketer singing the praises of the benefits of personalisation, how can it be done at scale without losing the personal touch and putting off prospects?

The below is just a brief wrap up of insights from Joel Harrison at B2B Marketing, Leanne Chesco at Demandbase and Matt Heinz at Heinz Marketing – and of course, you the viewers! If you didn’t manage to see it, view it on-demand here.

As we move further into the world of digital, keeping marketing personal and human can prove to be difficult. While it is one thing to be able to personalise the experience for one or even a few targets, it’s another to do it at scale.

So how do marketers use the technology available to them to work at scale, keep it personal and make it human? Here are a few insights from our panel of experts.

Why is it important to be human at scale?

You could probably look in your inbox right now and find an email that was meant to be personalised, but somehow failed for any number of reasons. In fact, more than 4 in 10 (43.3%) of webinar attendees reported that on a weekly basis, they received ‘personal’ emails that were clearly automated and as a result became irritated. Another one-third (33.3%) said they receive these types of emails daily.

It’s clear that receiving emails where it is apparent that no one bothered to research who the recipient is, what their organisation does or the specific needs of the organisation are can be off-putting to the recipient and counterproductive for the sender.

For Joel, the importance of being human at scale is because as marketing continues to become more digital, it becomes more difficult to get more traction in brands and to see through what is not relevant.

“As much as we need to be digital, we need to be human. That’s what creates traction with our audience. I think it’s fair to say that B2B buyers are becoming more and more cynical so I think that, for me, that’s the importance of being human.”

At the same time, Matt Heinz warned about getting too caught up on efficiency and scale at the expense of the experience for the buyer. He reminds the audience of the importance of creating a one-on-one experience for their customers.

“I think it’s important to keep in mind that no matter what your campaign is, no matter where you’re sending it from, for the recipient, for the buyer, for your customer, it is always a one-on-one interaction. They don’t care how many other people you’re sending that message to. They are just thinking about themselves. And they’re receiving that message as one person as an individual.”

How can automation be used more effectively?

When webinar attendees were asked to describe their organisation’s approach when it comes to automation 39.3% said they did not use marketing automation and 28.6% said they use automation in a limited way.

One-fifth (21.4%) said they do use automation more than before, but it still sometimes appears stilted and unnatural. For these organisations who reported using automation but maybe not in the most effective way, Matt suggested stepping back away from working in ‘fire drill mode’ and looking at what automation can do for the organisation.

“What you’re doing in eight hours, you could do in two. What you’re doing to impact 100 customers, you could impact 10,000 customers. And yes, you’re going to have to step back and do some work to put that in place. But that investment and creating those automated systems is going to have a far-reaching, scalable, highly valuable impact on what marketing can do not only with those customers, but the impact marketing can have on sales and revenue.”

For organisations that have marketing automation in place but their sales teams are not taking advantage of it, Leanne suggests that marketers get that data into the hands of reps. Providing them information like intent data can help validate that their prospects are showing buying signals, while behavioural data from target accounts can inform salespeople that their prospects are visiting their website.

“Say a customer is coming up for renewal, you can look at things like intent data to understand actually what that company is looking at. That includes content that’s on your website, but also content that could be on your competitor’s website. That’s definitely the type of data that is great to get in the hands of your salespeople to help them validate that this account is in a good position to either engage in a sales cycle, or that the sales cycle looks healthy.”

What are the barriers to making the digital marketing experience more human?

One of the barriers to humanising the digital experience for one-quarter (25%) of the webinar attendees was a lack of time and personnel to develop processes and campaigns. Other barriers to a lesser degree included legacy technology, integration between systems and internal disagreements about the best approach to take.

However, the biggest barrier for one-third (33.3%) of attendees was a lack of quality data. Leanne recommended that organisations make sure they are targeting the right accounts and that they have a good contact acquisition strategy in place so they know they are targeting the right stakeholders.

“If you’re leveraging those different technologies or tools out there to show you that those accounts are active and showing you active buying signals, I think that’s definitely going to help with engagement and improve your quality of data.”

Hear more on our Insight50 session

The quotes above are just a small sample of what was discussed and answered on this Insight50 session. Make sure to register to watch on-demand and strengthen your topical marketing campaigns for the year ahead.