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Crossing the Chasm: Go to Market Strategy vs. In Market Reality

Published on April 09, 2019

Crossing the Chasm

Marketing leaders are faced with a dynamic, constantly changing landscape. Much of the change over the past decade has been driven by the rise of MarTech. 5000 technologies created to make marketing turnkey, 5000 silver bullets, easy buttons all presented to the marketing leader to make marketing “easy.” It’s created a new marketing norm, one that comes with a new set of challenges.

I am super fortunate in that every week for the past 5 years I’ve spoken with anywhere from 3-6 marketing leaders. This has provided me with a front row seat to a unique set of challenges in front of a leader who knows their tenure is by far the shortest of their peers in the C-Suite. The average tenure of a CMO is 4 years, compared to their next closest peer, the CEO, who is double that at 8.

Most recently the trend has been these 3 big things…

1.    Talent

2.    Go to Market Strategy not aligned with marketing tactics (there is a lot to unpack in this one)

3.    Operations

This article is focused on the major gap in most marketing organizations between the go to market strategy set by the executive team and the reality of what gets executed in the field. Our Chief Strategy Officer lovingly refers to this as “random acts of marketing.” This gap is a prime example of how MarTech has had a major influence on how companies go to market. The MarTech companies have done an incredible job of scratching just about every itch for the marketer, the problem is each itch is a derivative of the prior problem. What do I mean by that?

Let’s start with one example. Marketo essentially created a category, Marketing Automation. It exploded, as it exploded there become needs that Marketo was not able to handle, insert the ecosystem of over 1000 tech partners who plug into Marketo. Each one scratching that annoying little itch of the Marketer. Each one a new implementation, integration and piece of technology which needs to be rolled out, managed and integrated into the overall marketing plan. Does that ever happen? Very rarely.

There are 3 core pillars in modern marketing, Go to Market Strategy, Data and Technology and Talent. Think of them as a waterfall, the GTM strategy should flow down and inform the overall data architecture which is implemented inside of technologies which activate and enable it. The tech implementation should then be held up by a foundation of people, who are aligned to the objectives and KPIs set out by the GTM strategy and are executing against a plan which is supported by the technologies implemented.

Sound like a dream scenario? Sound like what’s happening in your company? Likely not, the truth is most organizations don’t distill the overall objectives and KPIs of the marketing team down to the initiative level for each member of the marketing team so that it’s easy to consume and understand how what they do impacts the business. Hint: if your marketing team does not have revenue focused objectives something is missing. Combine that with the “shiny object syndrome” of MarTech purchases you wind up with a Frankenstack that does not support the overall business process, creates a rat’s nest of data and no visibility into marketing performance. The worst part is it creates a bad customer experience.

What can you do? As a Marketing Leader it’s your job to set the table for your team. Start with the objectives and KPIs you are going to be measured by in your role. Then work on distilling that down to all of the roles on your team. Most CMOs I speak with have an inherent fear that they are going to walk into the board room unable to produce the reports they need to show the impact their team is having on the organization. Starting with a metrics first approach will help to better align technology and people to your overarching objectives.

Once there are a clear set of objective set, break them down into measurable goals and metrics for each of the functional groups within the marketing team which them flows down to the individual level. The goal here is that if the entire team has a north star in terms of what they are to accomplish in their role then everything they do, purchase and implement. Every action should directly impact that goal. Keep it simple, always ask, “how will what you want to do or buy be measured and how will it be integrated into our overall process?”  

Random acts of marketing can a killer for your brand, your customer experience and for your tenure as CMO. Marketing has evolved, metrics matter, experience matters and performance matters. By focusing on objectives and KPIs you take yourself out of the “we don’t know what marketing does” conversation and into the seat at the preverbal “revenue table.”

This article barely scratches the surface, what else are you seeing that is creating a chasm in marketing?