Admit it. Marketing is tough these days. Consumers have more access to information than ever before. Media channel and tactical options are infinite. Digital tracking and advertising data are exploding. It’s quite overwhelming to put together a smart short-term marketing plan, much less keep it consistent and optimized over the long haul.
So I put the question out there to CMOs and Directors of Marketing: “What would make marketing easier for you?” My inbox was flooded with responses — some silly and some very serious. Although I received a lot of answers, they seemed to fall into three main categories including the need for: (1) more knowledge, (2) more time, and (3) more resources.
As you read along I’ll explain more about the problems marketers are experiencing, then I’ll offer some suggestions on how to solve — or at least address — these issues with how to find success in marketing.
PROBLEM #1: NEED MORE KNOWLEDGE
Many of the responses in this category weren’t necessarily about getting access to more data points, but about having a better understanding of information in order to take smarter actions. For example, Nick Leech of www.123-reg.com says, “I would make it so my Twitter stream — and all the content linked to it — was turned into an audiobook that would be recited to me as I sleep. That way I could absorb new market developments without it getting in the way of the actual task of marketing.”
Several of the other marketing experts from which I heard also mentioned the wish to know more about their customers and their decision-making processes. Some want to know the exact moment before the customer chooses them or their competitor so they can serve them an advertisement right then. Many would like to know precisely which marketing message ultimately convinced the customer or client to buy.
SOLUTION #1: PRIORITIZE YOUR KNOWLEDGE NEEDS
I realize that many of the wishes I received are impossible to achieve. However, I do think it’s possible to optimize your knowledge needs, and one way to do that is to prioritize the information you want to absorb. If you rank your various needs for information, then you can determine how much time you spend on collecting and analyzing each set of data.
So it’s up to you to decide having which of the following would be more beneficial to your brand or business: (A) customer information, (B) competitor/market intelligence, or (C) results of your marketing efforts. Once you prioritize each of these, then you can decide the appropriate amount of time needed every week to digest and review each one.
PROBLEM #2: NEED MORE TIME
Need. More. Time. I think every professional in today’s world says they could benefit from having more time to get things done. In terms of needing more time from a modern marketer’s perspective, Amanda LaPlante, Media Director at N2 Publishing says this about a specific yet common problem, “There's not a single minute more in the marketing professional's day than there ever was, and the need for content has increased exponentially (or, some would argue, geometrically) as the number of mediums and/or channels has increased.”
She’s right. Content is needed in every aspect of marketing and creating good, quality content takes time. Not to mention the time required to distribute that content effectively. Although this is just one area of concern for marketers, it all adds up. If you’re spending more time working on content development and distribution, you’re not spending time on something else that’s probably equally important.
SOLUTION #2: SET BOUNDARIES
Not unlike problem #1, setting boundaries here is also crucial. There isn’t enough time (or money, for that matter) to do everything, so take a look at all of your marketing efforts and decide which ones should stay and which ones should go.
The best way to make these decisions is to evaluate your overall brand and marketing strategy.
Just say no to the tactics that don’t help you reach your overall business objective, don’t efficiently reach your target, haven’t performed well in the past, or don’t complement your other tactics. Also, don’t waste your time with channels that you cannot afford or to which you can’t dedicate the appropriate number of resources. Lastly, don’t put any effort into marketing devices that are crowded with competitors.
PROBLEM #3: NEED MORE RESOURCES
Shereen Faltas, Founder & CEO of Awaken The Rebel, shared this nugget: “Marketing would be easier if I had 12 elves who were constantly on it for my company. Maybe then I would feel like I was doing enough, with enough, in the right way. These elves would also be experts in marketing and know EXACTLY what to say in their copy, what to do with hashtags, and how to generate traffic. They would be genius internet marketing elves.”
Her statement creatively states a problem that many marketers are facing these days — they don’t have enough people to do the job to their liking. With the demands that social media and other digital technologies are putting on brand managers and business owners, it’s tough to afford enough bodies (or vendors) to manage every aspect of marketing.
SOLUTION #3: REORGANIZE YOUR RESOURCES
One way to address this problem is to ensure that your marketing department is structured the right way. I wrote about this in my December column, “A New Way to Structure the Marketing Department.” Oftentimes, marketing teams are structured around tasks and I believe it would serve you better to structure your team around goals. This suggested approach may prevent duplication of work and overlap, as well as create a more efficient and motivated group of individuals. Also, my solution wouldn’t require that you hire more employees. It would require that you use your people differently, however.
Following the fairly simply solutions listed above could truly make marketing easier for your brand or business. These problem-solving techniques can provide you with more knowledge, allow you more time, and empower you to more effectively use your existing resources.
Emily K. Howard, a marketing strategist since 1997, developed her skills at some of the country’s top marketing firms including DDB Worldwide, while working on brands like American Airlines, Pepsi, Bloomberg and Merck. Now as Vice President of Esparza, Emily’s integrated communications approach helps clients find order in marketing chaos. She’d love to hear from you and can be found on LinkedIn or @ekhoward on Twitter.