Having 22+ years as a founder, agency head, and CMO, I’ve learned repeatedly that marketing management must consistently ask and answer crucial questions to lead successful campaigns, earn the trust of your clients, and constantly find success in our accounts. Four stand out as quintessential: Are the finances in order? What are the outstanding gaps? Will this work? And, How can we make this better?
Manage the finances
Financial acumen is paramount in marketing management. When discussing marketing, I often discuss how financially driven a CMO’s role can be, often to the surprise of inexperienced marketers and often to the delight of clients worried about their bottom line. Even the most innovative campaigns can fall flat and bomb without appropriate budgeting and resource allocation. It’s not just about securing a generous budget but effectively utilizing it. Come in over budget, the campaign fails, the company is at risk, and the board is up in arms about financial mismanagement. Come in under budget, and you’ll likely not drive the results you had anticipated.
- Allocation Precision: A nuanced understanding of where every cent is spent is crucial. Each allocation must serve a defined purpose and show potential for a high return on investment. With myriad channels to invest in, it’s paramount that each allocation strategically aligns with overarching business goals.
- ROI Monitoring: Consistent tracking and analysis of returns help ensure that the budget is not merely an expenditure but an investment. Delving deep into metrics, understanding what they mean in the grander scheme, and adjusting strategies accordingly is the mark of a financial maven.
- Future Forecasting: Anticipating market shifts and future financial needs is about foresight and adaptability. This skill requires a marriage of past data analysis and intuitive forecasting to ensure budgetary readiness for future campaigns.
Constantly Identify Gaps
Beyond the internal dynamics of a marketing team, external synchronization with clients is vital. This proficiency revolves around communication, analysis, and prompt action.
- Active Listening: Every client interaction offers a goldmine of insights. Active listening is decoding these insights, understanding the unsaid, and predicting future needs. This skill extends beyond verbal cues to encompass market trends, consumer behaviors, and feedback loops.
- Gap Analysis: A proactive assessment approach ensures alignment with client objectives. Regular evaluations, combined with strategic insights, can preempt potential challenges, ensuring seamless delivery and client satisfaction.
- Prompt Action: The speed of execution can make or break a campaign. Identifying a gap is half the battle; the other half is about implementing solutions efficiently and effectively.
Be Willing To Ask Ourselves The Question: “Will This Work?”
Every strategy carries inherent risks. The key is not in avoiding these risks but in navigating them with agility and expertise and accepting that only some things you do will work out the way you planned. By default, strategy comes with uncertainties because we’re basing strategies on experienced assumptions, some daring creativity, and that for a letter word that ends in **ck…. Luck. A top-tier manager should be adept at evaluating the viability of a campaign, pivoting when necessary, and the willingness to be prepared in the event things go poorly, but the fortitude to discuss those inherent risks with key stakeholders in advance to ensure you’re not setting false expectations or creating unrealistic hope.
- Data-driven Decisions: The age-old debate of intuition versus data tilts heavily towards data in modern marketing. From behavioral analytics to conversion metrics, data offers a grounded basis for every decision.
- Risk Management: An analytical approach to potential pitfalls aids in creating robust contingency plans. A well-prepared manager can pivot strategies seamlessly, ensuring minimal disruptions and maintaining campaign momentum.
- Feedback Loops: The market is dynamic, and so should be the marketing approach. Regular internal and external feedback acts as a compass, guiding strategies toward success.
Ask How Can We Make This Better?
The quest for excellence should be unending.
So you’ve built a landing page, put together an email, and launched a new website, great! Now what? Are you willing to accept that you did a great job, and that’s the end of it? I challenge you always to look again… again… and even again. And every time you do, gather the troops, set aside the ego, admit that it’s good, but push yourself to improve it. The little things like shape consistency between elements on a page and components of the client’s logo, the text rewriting for that extra oomph (when you have time). You constantly question whether what you’re prepared to roll out is good enough or GREAT! Pursuing excellence will allow you to ask yourself, “How can we improve this?” There’s nothing to lose but asking this question and then asking yourself the question again.
- Continuous Learning: The marketing landscape evolves at lightning speed. Staying updated, attending seminars, joining workshops, and being active in industry dialogues ensures that the manager is always at the forefront of innovation.
- A/B Testing: Validating assumptions through split testing can yield insights that transform campaigns. This iterative approach ensures the marketing strategy is always optimized for the target audience.
- Collaboration: Breaking silos and fostering a culture of open dialogue can lead to synergistic results. When multiple brains work together, pooling in diverse perspectives, the resultant strategy is often groundbreaking. If you think a web developer on your team may not have insights into design and branding, you’d be surprised at what insightful feedback you might get if you ask them. It’s often a fresh perspective (expert or not) That yields unimaginable outcomes.
In conclusion, as marketing landscapes shift, the importance of asking the right questions can’t be overstated. By consistently addressing these four fundamental queries, marketing management can better position their brands, campaigns, companies, and clients for success, ensuring short-term wins and long-term sustainability.