3 Things to Look for When Evaluating 2014 Marketing Plans

Speech BubbleNow that companies are well into their planning process for 2014, many executives are looking closely at the proposed marketing spend and asking some important questions:    Do we have the right processes in place?  Are we covering all our bases with the tactics we are employing?  Finally, are we getting appropriate return on the marketing investment we are making?

As technology and new tactics continue to revolutionize marketing plans and requirements, it becomes increasingly important to understand how well your marketing programs are keeping pace.  New technology also is impacting measurement and tracking, making it possible to see closer linkages between marketing investment and business return.

As budgets are being considered and plans are being weighed, here are four things senior leaders should be thinking about as they evaluate proposed marketing plans and marketing spend for 2014:

Marketing and Sales Alignment

The basis of any successful demand-based marketing program is a connection to sales and sales goals.  Both functions need a common understanding of the targets that are being pursued and the marketing plans that should be in place to reach those targets and nurture them through the buying process.  An up-to-date sales/marketing database is the foundation for building this connection and ultimately creating demand. It is critical that both functions work from a common one.  A great deal of time and money can be wasted on campaigns that are directed to an audience that sales cannot pursue.

Messaging and Content Creation

The Rule of Seven, popularized by Dr. Jeffrey Lant, stated that it takes seven touches to make a sale.  My experience teaches me that it can take double or more touches to seal a deal in a complex business.  But whether it takes seven or 15 points of contact with a potential buyer, marketing plans should contemplate the different types of messaging and content that will comprise the touches needed.  At each point of contact, prospects must receive information that speaks to their position in the buying cycle.  Research on buyer persona needs and market drivers should inform this process, as well as input from business unit SMEs.

Measurement and Tracking

As campaigns are executed, sales and marketing should have a common understanding as to when a lead should be turned over to sales.  Systems are needed to track leads as they progress through the sales funnel.  As marketing has evolved, it is important that marketers move from tracking number of campaigns and number of events to looking at specific results related to impact on deals closed and progressive movement through the sales funnel.  Marketing plans also should identify the specific data that is an indicator of achievement and a measure of contribution to your company’s business goals.  This data should be used to evaluate ROI throughout the year, as well as to determine where the investment should be allocated for 2014 and beyond.

What questions do you think senior executives should be asking about marketing plans and budgets for 2014?