The most important thing for marketing leaders to remember is to develop a plan, follow that plan, avoid the temptation to deviate from that plan, and strive for small victories.
One of the best lessons that marketing managers can apply to leading their team comes from all-time great college basketball coach John Wooden.
Coach Wooden, who was the most successful college basketball coach of all-time, famously stressed the importance of being calm under pressure. This put him in a position of strength leading his team, not reacting to opponents.
For your company to be successful, you need to start by evaluating your leadership. Are you constantly reacting to those nagging deadlines or pressure from the sales team or higher-ups? You might be able to find a short-term solution to get you to the next quarter of marketing planning, but over time those habits will catch up.
And, if you are constantly scrambling to keep up, your team will eventually take on your persona, creating even more issues. Coach Wooden’s players were successful because they always knew their objective, the game plan for winning, and how to execute under pressure. That came from their calm and focused leader.
Too often, I’ve come across marketing managers who get desperate at the end of the quarter or year. What often happens is, the sales team is behind on their numbers, executives are concerned, and the responsibility falls on marketing to save the day. Now, you’re in reactionary mode doing things that are not in the long-term best interest of the company.
The problem is that it’s too late in the game to get a “victory” without creating long-term problems. At this stage, the only thing you can do is spend a lot more money than you should be spending.
The undisciplined approach that I’ve seen includes marketing managers buying an expensive ad, running a paid search campaign, or making a big bet outside of the normal marketing strategy. Then, after buying a full-page ad in a trade magazine, the phone doesn’t ring. Why? The market was not receptive to a desperation ad campaign outside of the normal course of marketing activity.
The best marketing builds, is continuous, tells an ongoing story, and is consistent. When you do things that are big and last second, they generally do not produce a positive return on investment.
Instead of reacting to a deadline by buying a full-page trade magazine ad, you should lead the marketing effort by purchasing two quarter-page ads that run over a period of time to tell a consistent story to the market.
You will realize a positive ROI by making several small impressions rather than going for one big impression. That consistent impression in the marketplace will yield results over time. The key is understanding how to get to the point of leading.
To reach a similar position managing your team, consider the following strategies to shift to the position of leading instead of reacting.
Marketing Leadership Tips: 5 Ways to Step Back and Lead
There are five important things to remember when trying to re-align your marketing team to focus on a long-term strategy.
1. Build a Solid Pipeline
Too many marketing managers neglect the process of building the pipeline in favor of scrambling to reach the target audience when faced with a deadline. This reactionary thinking will eventually catch up with you when there is a quarter where the target audience simply is not there.
2. Change Your Thinking to Long-Term
We know it’s easy for the sales team to get caught up in the quarter-by-quarter sprint to the finish line. The same applies to marketing if you’re not careful. Take a step back to think ahead two quarters or even two years from now.
3. Develop an Integrated Campaign
Build those relationships, establish a presence in your market, have a consistent message, and create supporting campaigns to spread your story. Otherwise, you’re looking at constantly running single campaigns with no connection to your overall message and no weight for support.
4. Find a Solution for Your Internal Problem
If you are constantly in reaction mode with your marketing plan, you need to find the root issue that is holding back your team’s ability to execute the long-term strategy. Exercise good marketing manager leadership by finding out what or who is holding up the plan, addressing the issues, and coming up with a solution. Do not put this off until next quarter! Otherwise, it may be too late to make changes by the time you finally get around to addressing the problem.
5. Use Foresight to Develop a Plan
You need a long-term perspective to develop a plan that delivers small victories over time. Being in the thick of the Marketing effort, you know the target audience, competitors, hurdles, opportunities, and threats. Now, how do you get your solution in front of prospects with more opportunities for success than setbacks? Develop your answer to that question with a long-term view.
Why Is It Important to Think Long-Term?
It might sound cliché to hammer home a long-term view for your marketing strategy. You might be thinking about the 50 things on your task list or the constant problems from other departments that push down on your attempt to set the right tone for your marketing team—especially when pressure starts building from the C-Suite for results this quarter.
But, I will share from experience that there is more power and more ROI with a thoughtful, long-term strategy than relying on an urgent half court shot trying to beat the buzzer each period.
The longer you’re engaged in the target market with a consistent message spread out over a 12-month or 24-month program, the more likely your solution will be thought of when a need or pain presents itself.
Instead of sending your sales team a list of 100 unqualified prospects a week before the end of the quarter or year, trying to squeeze blood from a turnip, you should qualify that list at the beginning of a designated period, gather as much information as possible to build a prospect profile, and hand off an actionable list that has a high likelihood of success.
That’s why ProSales Connection does not advise our clients to make one big push going for a big payoff. Not only is it inefficient, it could turn a quarterly loss not hitting the numbers into a yearly loss from a damaging marketing plan outside of the normal course of marketing activity.
Instead, we advise our clients to engage us in a long-term program spreading their marketing budget out over one to two years. As part of this program, we routinely call prospects to stay top of mind and create relationships that build accurate profiles of your target market.
Want more advice on how to successfully fill your marketing to sales pipeline? Additionally, if you need support to re-align your team, contact us today to discuss how ProSales Connection can integrate with your ongoing marketing programs.