Marketing By Objectives

November 29, 2010

Objective-Action-Budget

In a recent article for the CMO Council’s Newsletter, Nicolas Watkis argues “Marketers won’t succeed if they don’t have objectives”. Right on, my friend!

As we have all heard before, marketers are now more than in any other time being measured and challenged to produce measurable results. Mr. Watkis then states “the most important activities for marketers are the establishment of marketing objectives, a plan for their achievement, a budget to support the plan, and the management of assets and resources to achieve the objectives”.

OK, I think we can all agree this makes sense, but then how do you go about coming up with a plan? His article argues that most marketers start with the budget and foolishly take that for a marketing plan while the right approach is actually quite different:

1. Set measurable objectives, both financial and marketing. The financial objectives are revenue, profits, return on assets (how much sales will the campaign generate? Is a valid question to answer in your objective) and although he doesn’t describe what the “marketing objectives” are, I would focus on lead generation numbers (how many qualified leads, for example) although other metrics such as “number of blog posts” or “twitter messages” could be valid objectives for social media campaigns.

2. List actions to be take for each objective, with completion dates, people responsible for each action and also think in terms of alternative actions (what to do in case the action is not successful). This last bit is important for factors outside your influence, maybe a contract that depends on another company has to be signed for the joint marketing campaign to start, or what to do if certain assumptions you’ve made when putting together the plan fail to materialize (i.e. what to do if mommy bloggers don’t pick up our story or offer right away as we hope they will do).

3. Profit and loss projection with a detailed marketing budget showing the allocation of resources. So here it is, the marketing budget, the final component of the marketing plan.

The methodology of OBJECTIVE -> ACTION -> BUDGET is logic, but why is it that so many marketers keep insisting on coming up with the budget before actually putting a plan in place? The “let’s copy last year’s budget” mentality is prevalent in many organizations because is the easy way out of a not so glamorous function. Maybe now is time for some change. So write “objective -> action -> budget”  down on paper, in big letters and stick it to your corkboard or use a post-it and glue it to your computer monitor. That’s what I just did 🙂


B2B Marketers Hold Off on Killing Traditional Media

October 22, 2010

And so from the looks of it, according to the latest chart from MarketingSherpa, traditional marketing venues such as trade shows and advertising are still in play today and will be for the next year. Their latest study points out that “The majority of B2B organizations are increasing marketing budgets for inbound marketing tactics, including social media, virtual events and webinars, SEO and PPC”.

But, more interesting is that the majority of B2B Marketers are not planning on changing their marketing budget allocation for traditional marketing tactics. Also interesting to note that telemarketing as a budget item will also remain a key part of the budget, which shows outbound lead generation is still a strong component of most marketing plans.


Mapping the Social Media Landscape

August 11, 2010

Infographics, according to Wikipedia are “graphic visual representations of information, data, or knowledge”. It’s also a wonderful way to communicate your message. Marketers that manage to become good at visual data communication can positively influence their companies into taking the right approach or strategy. Talking with the CEO or other managers about what all those metrics mean is sometimes a challenge, especially when they are not on top of the latest marketing trends or technologies.

When it comes to social media, a nice chart can do the talking job for you. The problem is finding the right one. The internet is now full of infographics for the social media space and each has its own particular characteristic. Here are some of the more interesting ones I found that try to map out the social media or social networking landscape. Their creators vary widely, from bloggers, marketing companies, to nationally recognized magazines.

National Geographic’s “World Wide Friends” illustration:

National Geographic Magazine World Wide Friends Illustration

National Geographic Magazine World Wide Friends Illustration

Overdrive Interactive “Social Media Map”:

Overdrive Interactive Social Media Map

Flowtown’s 2010 Social Networking Map:

The 2010 Social Networking Map

Flowtown's The 2010 Social Networking Map

Information Architect’s Web Trend Map 3.0:

Web Trend Map 3

Information Architect's Japan Web Trend Map 3

Harvard Business Review “Mapping the Social Internet”:

Mapping the Social Internet

HBR Mapping the Social Internet

Mapping Social Media and Internet Trends

What I like about the maps above is that each one is a great representation of the data it is trying to communicate. The maps that follow a known pattern (subway lines, political map, etc.) tend to be easier to understand because they represent images we’re already familiar with. In general, if it takes you more than a few seconds to understand what the map is trying to say, then it’s not a good map. Your audience, of course, will be the determining factor telling you whether one type of map is more appropriate than the other.

Have you found a good representation of the social media space? Please share!


More Free Marketing Training

September 23, 2009

Who doesn’t like free stuff? I sure do, especially when it comes to marketing. That’s why I’m eager to check out two resources:

MarketingProfs Digital Marketing World

The folks at MarketingProfs held an online trade show that had a great speaker lineup and relevant topics for those in the online world, being very focused on tactics for lead generation, social media, and email marketing among other topics. The event was on September 16 but I was travelling and missed it. No worries because the whole thing is archived online for you to watch at any time! Access is free and open until December, so you do have some time but don’t wait too long.

The link for the MarketingProfs Digital Marketing World online event is: http://www.marketingprofs.com/events/9/conference

Meeting of the Minds Webcast Series

Marketing NPV is one of those great little secrets of the web, because not many people know of them. An advisory firm that focuses on linking marketing to financials, they have great stuff when it comes to marketing ROI and on marketing measurement. That’s why I think their new webcast series has great promise. The Meeting of the Minds is a free series of webinars featuring some of the great minds in academia such as Don Schultz, Gary Lilien, Dave Reibstein, Paul Farris, Tim Ambler, and others.

Although the topics seem to be more on the strategic side (big picture view), they will surely generate some interesting insight. Worth checking out and registering for those that are aligned with your interests.

The link for Meeting of the Minds Webcast Series is:

http://marketingnpv.com/node/614

I’ll watch them and post my review. Please do the same!

And enjoy… free is always good 🙂


What’s Your Marketing Approach?

July 29, 2009

An interesting post by Steve Johnson talks about marketing not being a list, but rather an approach to solving customers problems and helping buyers to buy.

As marketers, we sometimes fall victims of the routine day-to-day tactical activities and forget why we are doing them. Create this email here, prepare a webinar there, and send the artwork for publication in that magazine. Do you ever stop at some point during the week to rethink your actions, rethink your role, rethink your strategy?

Being tuned to the market and being able to notice patterns is only possible if you do your job with eyes wide open. You don’t necessarily have to keep looking for this with everything you do at every minute (it would drive you crazy and slow you down considerably) but just recognizing the need for it does help.

Here are some actions you can take that might help:

  • After you create a presentation, review it thinking not only on who you will be presenting it to, but now thinking about whether more people in your market (customers and prospects) would find it interesting/educational
  • When you wrap up things for the day, think back at everything you created (collateral, presentations, copy, etc.) and make a note to revise it and expand it to become a piece you can repurpose for another audience
  • Make a point to touchbase with the sales reps every month and ask them what they are seeing in the market and what questions they are being asked
  • Schedule a couple hours per week (Friday afternoons are usually great) to review the week that passed and to plan for the week ahead, with the idea that what you will be working on, producing, and publishing should be solving a customer problem

How are YOU tackling the challenge of noticing patterns and solving customers problems?


Kindle Marketing Lessons

May 29, 2009

Amazon’s Kindle e-Book Reader Shows You What NOT To Do

I love my Kindle. The one I have is the first generation and I have been using it for almost one year now. An avid reader, I’m always reading two or three books at the same time and the Kindle’s simplicity and storage capacity (hundreds of books!) appealed to me.

What I hate about the Kindle has more to do with Amazon.com’s practices than the device itself. So here are a couple of important lessons we marketers can all learn from their mistakes: Kindle Lessons

Kindle Lesson Number 1: Integrate Your Sales Channels

For almost 10 years I’ve been a loyal Wall Street Journal subscriber. Initially I got the paper version of WSJ and later was an avid reader of WSJ.com. When I got the Kindle, one of the first things I wanted to do was to get the Wall Street Journal delivered to my e-Book, and Amazon was offering it. The problem, however, was that when I tried to switch my WSJ.com online subscription to the Kindle subscription I was told that they couldn’t do that. What?! I had to cancel my wsj.com subscription, then sign up for the Kindle subscription. Isn’t that unbelievable?

Why would you make it difficult for a loyal customer to continue using your product? And better, yet, why would you make it difficult for a customer to start using a more expensive product (the Kindle version was more expensive than the online journal)? When planning your sales channels, the more integrated they are, the better your chances of acquiring and keeping customers.

Kindle Lesson Number 2: Greed Will Kill You

Even with all the hassle of signing up to read the WSJ on my Kindle, I was a happy camper. Every morning I turned it on and read my electronic newspaper. Until that day when I got an email from Amazon.com announcing they were increasing the price of the WSJ Kindle subscription by 50%. FIFTY percent!

I simply cancelled my Kindle WSJ subscription, as apparently hundreds of others did. Not only that, but the Kindle forum at Amazon.com’s website has irate customers venting their frustrations with the price hike and talking about collateral damage as they cancel other Kindle subscriptions.

Why would Amazon increase the price substantially without giving customers any additional benefit is still a controversial subject, but the lesson is clear: Unless you have a good reason (i.e. additional features, more convenience, better value, etc.) to give your customer a huge price increase, you will not only risk losing him but will also get a very bad reputation, which could bankrupt you.

Granted, Amazon.com doesn’t care if hordes of Kindle users cancel their WSJ subscription as long as they keep purchasing books through the site, but if you are not so lucky as to be the size of Amazon.com, just remember these simple yet powerful lessons.

Thank you, Amazon, for teaching us a lesson. Now go f@%$! yourself.


If you’re gonna copy, make it right

February 15, 2009

An interesting blog post by Jason Cohen at OnStartups.com  discussed why you shouldn’t copy other companies just because they were successful at what they do. He uses examples like 37Signals, Copyblogger, FogCreek Software, Zappos, and make a good case for trying to think for yourself instead of just following what others are saying.

His controversial post caused quite a stir whith some people taking it personal, others agreeing with him and even others that were lost completely as to what the message he was trying to say was. Why do I care? Well, for one I’m interested in controversy and believe that dissident voices can often give us great insight into what we thought was a certainty. How often have you presented an idea to your team or to the company’s senior management only to get asked questions you never yourself considered before? My second reason for liking that post is that I agree with what Jason said.

Let me explain. Although I admire Joel Spolsky and think he’s right on the mark 99% of times, I wouldn’t simply copy his business model or his ideas and try to use them in my own company. The simple fact that it worked for him doesn’t prove that it will work for everyone. Another person I admire is Jack Welsh (former CEO of GE) but I also wouldn’t be as ruthless as he was during his tenure simply because that is not my style. Can you be as successful as someone else without using the same methods? The myriad of companies out there that are successful and yet operate completely different (Southwest and JetBlue, Yahoo and Google, GM and Toyota, etc.) are the proof.

Did Jason take some stuff out of context? Maybe. But the overall idea was interesting and valid, especially for us mere mortals that look in awe at others that have been more successful (however you define the term) and have to be brought back down to earth and go back to work.

The lesson here translated into the marketing realm is that you should always keep an eye out for the competition, for your partners, for other similar companies, for what is said to be working and why. What is the best ad campaign you’ve seen recently? Which is the best website? Who in your industry is the king of PPC and SEO? This is all good food for thought but beware of simply copying what others are doing. You competitor may have a very good reason why he decided to create a blog on his website and why he spent thousands on that slick direct mail piece but it doesn’t mean you should follow suit. Watch, learn, absorb all the good and bad then translate it into your own context. 

Effectiveness doesn’t come from copying, it comes from making it right for your organization. Do what works for you, not what have worked for others.


Effective Manager Defined

February 14, 2009

From time to time I go back to some business books I’ve read that had big influences in my career, one of which is “The One Minute Manager”, by Ken Blanchard. There’s a specific passage I think is a great definition of effective managers, it reads:

Effective managers manage themselves and the people they work with so that both the organization and the people profit from their presence.

This is a simple but powerful thought. How are you making use of your time? How are you making use of your team’s time? Are the tasks you and your team working on going to directly affect the company’s ability to compete in the marketplace?  Are the marketing campaigns you are planning or have planned going to directly influence sales? What are the key items in your agenda as a marketer that can have a direct impact in the company’s bottom line? 

Food for thought.



Effective Marketer Principle 7: Run Productive Meetings

January 25, 2009

Meetings are a necessity of today’s work environment. And are also good source of humoristic material (see Dilbert cartoons) for the fact that they are often badly run and take way too much time. If you have ever asked yourself the following questions during a meeting, then is fair to assume the meeting wasn’t productive at al

  • Why am in this meeting?
  •  Why are all these people in this meeting?
  • Why are we meeting?
  • Haven’t we already discussed this in another meeting?
  • Shouldn’t [name of person] also participate in this meeting?
  • What are we trying to accomplish?
  • Who did we decide will take care of the action items?
  • Will anyone notice if I slip out of the room before the meeting ends?

So it is no surprise that one of the principles for effective marketers has to do with productive meetings. Drucker, of course, was right on target when included this principle in his article for effective managers (“What Makes an Effective Executive”, Harvard Business Review, June 2004) since one of the most important aspects one should be able to master in order to become effective is time management, and meetings are, as a general rule, a time drag.meeting1

Following Drucker’s advice, you should first identify what type of meeting is needed, since different meetings require different kinds of preparation. There are meetings to prepare a statement or press release, meetings where team members report the status of their tasks, meetings to inform other executives, and so on. From a marketing perspective, the principle still holds true and you will certainly be able to recognize in your organization all those different meeting types and should be able to prepare beforehand and run them according to their individual characteristics. For example:

Meeting to discuss campaign goals and strategy: this meeting should require attendees to be prepared beforehand by knowing the target market the campaign will focus on, reading results from similar campaigns or from campaigns targeting the same market, and assessing competitors’ actions towards the said market. If this kind of preparation is expected and understood by all participants, the meeting itself will be more productive since everyone will be able to come prepared to discuss the strategy rather than basic principles and background data.

Another example might be a meeting to review artwork, design, or other conceptual diagram related to marketing collateral or advertising. The requirements for this meeting differ from the previous one in the sense that previous preparation may involve having everyone review the proposed artwork or design beforehand and come prepared to the meeting with their observations. The meeting itself can be run also more focused on the specific artwork/design at hand, discussing that element in detail and how it relates to the overall message.

Finally, let’s take the example of a marketing staff meeting where you will review the results of the last quarter campaigns with the team. The way you will run this meeting will undoubtedly differ from the two types of meetings described above.

The takeaway from this principle is that once you realize that each meeting has its own purpose and structure, you can start organizing, preparing, and running meetings more effectively. But regardless of the type of meeting you will have, my personal experience is that you need at least the following:

  1. An agenda:  prepared and distributed prior to the meeting.
  2. An assigned note-taker: someone everyone agrees will write notes during the meeting, avoiding the all too common “oh, I thought you were taking notes so I didn’t take any!” problem.
  3. Published action items: sometimes referred as meeting minutes, it really doesn’t matter what you call it as long as it contains clear action items from the meeting, indicating who will do what by when. The note-taker is the person usually responsible for putting together the action items and sending it to everyone (after all, that’s why he was taking the notes!)

 Sounds simple and it really should be. Don’t let other people take you down with their useless meetings, you have more important things to do. Instead, teach them how to run effective meetings!


Effective Marketer Principle 4: Take Responsibility for Decisions

January 13, 2009

The fourth principle can be summarized in one word: ACT!project plan

Marketing managers can sometimes get caught up on the creation of the plan, discussing with the team everything that will be done, the campaigns, the nice webinars, the new collateral, and the press releases but forget the important part of the marketing plan, actually the important part of any successful plan: The Three W’s (Who will do What by When)?

Until there’s a clear “owner”, a task won’t get done. Is the old saying that if everyone is responsible, then no one is responsible. Drucker advises us to use the following when determining the responsibility for each task laid out in the plan:

  • The name of the person responsible for the task
  • The deadline (when does it need to get done?)
  • The names of the people who will be affected by it, especially if approvals are needed (think for example about whether the CEO, the CMO, or another high level executive needs to review and approve your ad campaign before it goes out the door. Make sure to add this person as part of your plan and also to allocate the appropriate time it will take for this person to review and approve – or not – the deliverable)
  • The names of people who will have to be informed by the decision (after you create a new piece of marketing collateral do you announce it to the sales team? Do you have to put out a press release after you revamp your whole website? Think of the communication activities that may result of completing a task)

A key part of taking responsibility and assigning people responsible for each task is to make them accountable. Metrics should be in place to ensure performance is measured – something that becomes critical if the task at hand may impact the overall results of a marketing campaign. If, for example, an activity within your plan is to send out an email blast to selected customers inviting them to attend a webinar, you not only need to ensure you are tracking the results of the email campaign (open rates, click trough rates, bounce rates, etc.) but you should also look into whether the sending of the email itself was done correctly. How? Look back and verify whether the deadlines for creating the email and scheduling/sending it out were met. Why the results were so good or bad? Results from the email might point to improvements needed for the copy, the overall design, or even the landing page used. It is important to know beforehand how you are going to measure success for each activity and also understanding the implications of not meeting the goals (maybe the email needs to be reworked and sent again to drive additional registrations).

Drucker’s wisdom also tells us about delegation and the need for de-centralizing decision making. We all have way too much on our plates to be concerned with every little detail of our marketing plans, after all that’s why we have people in our teams that (hopefully) can help us with some of the tasks. Be it an intern, a marketing coordinator, an assistant or additional marketing professionals, we need to learn that we can rely on each member of the team to carry out his or her task successfully and to make decisions along the way without having to get your approval every step of the way.

The path to becoming an effective marketer involves learning how to “let go” of having to make all decisions. You hired quality people, you should trust your team and you should coach them on how to become better at what they do so that they can one day take over your job and you can rise up the ladder as well! Make each person responsible and accountable but also give them the freedom to decide the best course of action in certain situations. That’s the only way you will be able to accomplish everything you set out to do in your plan. Quoting directly from Peter Drucker “Making good decisions is a crucial skill at every level. It needs to be taught explicitly to everyone in organizations that are based on knowledge.” (from “What makes an effective executive”, Harvard Business Review, June 2004)


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