When you think about everything you can do to drive inbound marketing leads for your business, the collection of tactics is overwhelming. What makes this even more challenging is that you should be executing on these tactics every day, every week and all month long. It never stops.
But most companies can’t do everything all of the time. Either budgets constrain what tactics you deploy or (I guess this is related) you don’t have the hands to execute everything. Your limited team just doesn’t have enough time in the day to do everything. You must prioritize and you need a delivery methodology that supports your strategy and your constraints.
Your team should be focused on what’s going to drive the biggest impact for the least amount of effort. By cycling through this prioritization exercise as frequently as possible (we recommend every 30 days), you align the delivery with your marketing strategy every single month.
Here are some Agile marketing techniques we use that can help you keep your marketing execution and marketing strategy in lockstep.
Create A Backlog Of Potential Marketing Tactics
We do a lot of collaboration with our clients and those collaboration sessions often produce amazing ideas for marketing tactics. Unfortunately, our clients don’t have unlimited marketing budgets and we can’t always execute on every amazing idea. To make sure those ideas are never lost, we have the tactics backlog.
The backlog includes everything we’re currently executing plus those items we’d like to execute at a later date (or if resources become available earlier). By reviewing the backlog on a regular basis, we help our clients prioritize the daily delivery with the special projects that might produce even more substantial results.
As long as you marry your backlog with a prioritization methodology like we do, you’ll have a very systematic approach to selecting the ongoing campaign work, lead optimization, sales improvement and any new idea that can provide increased lead generation, an improved close rate on sales opportunities and higher monthly revenue numbers.
Keep The Backlog Groomed Monthly
Like your haircut, the backlog can get unruly or out of control when left ungroomed. You should be pulling stuff out and executing on those ideas. That keeps the backlog from getting too big, but you also might need to remove some ideas. Your competitors may beat you to the punch. You might find a few ideas that are great but too difficult or expensive to execute. You may discover it’s too hard to identify the expected results for some ideas. All of these items should be taken out of the backlog.
By reviewing the backlog monthly, you keep it current, accurate and aligned with your strategy. Should extra money become available, you might be able to execute one of your bigger and more expensive tactics. Should budgets tighten up, you can respond accordingly. More importantly, if your strategy adjusts, the backlog gets groomed with the latest thinking around marketing and sales strategy applied. Now your marketing and sales efforts are never out of alignment.
Plan 90-Day Marketing Strategy Sessions With Sales And Marketing Teams
While we recommend clients stick to their plans for as long as possible, we also know plans change, so marketing and sales delivery needs to change too. By getting together with you and discussing your strategy every 90 days, we’re always aligned from a delivery perspective.
When the strategy doesn’t change, the tactics continue to execute like clockwork. But if adjustments are needed (even small adjustments), this 90-day check-in assures that everyone is on the same page and no more than a couple of weeks go by without having sales and marketing aligned with the overall company strategy.
Pull Down Strategically Aligned Tactics And Run 30-Day Sprints
Now that we can keep the strategy aligned, it gets easier to connect the tactics. Every 30 days, the team pulls down strategically aligned tactics and recommends them to our clients.
This gives the clients a chance to collaborate and sign off on the 30-day plan. Once we get input and agreement on the plan, delivery can proceed. The results are evaluated, the tactics are delivered and the improvements are realized month over month.
Or course, you could run shorter sprints (such as one-week or two-week sprints), but marketing and sales tactical delivery often spans the course of those time frames. It’s more efficient, easier for our clients and requires less rework to run longer, more strategic sprints.
Use Data To Adjust Marketing Strategy And Delivery In Real Time
Today, data and actual results play such an important part of what we do and how we do it that we’ve infused the quantitative element into almost everything we do. Prior to giving clients our 30-day-plan recommendations, the entire program is dissected from a data perspective. Almost every tactic and every key performance indicator (KPI) is analyzed and reviewed. The team responds to that data and creates action plans. These get integrated into our plan recommendations because we want our decisions and client conversations to be data-driven.
Now when we’re talking about priorities and sprint planning, everyone is sure (us and the client) that the priorities we’re looking to lock down are going to produce the desired results and that the investment in marketing and sales is optimized based on results. I’m sure this sounds easier than it is and it has taken us years to refine our process, but the results speak for themselves. Our clients see lift in key marketing metrics like website visitors, conversion rate and marketing-qualified leads generated. They see lift in sales metrics like higher close rates, shorter sales cycles and more sales opportunities. But most importantly, they see more new customers and increasing revenue.
The days of doing 12-month marketing plans and then working from that playbook for the entire year are over. Even when we did marketing planning like this, the exercise was more academic than practical. We rarely looked at the plan and almost never adjusted it. It makes sense for today’s marketing and sales planning to be more agile, responsive to marketing conditions and kept up to date in real time.
The techniques described above have provided tremendous value at our agency. They’ve been battle-tested and adjusted over the past 18 months. The result is a lift in results for our clients and efficiencies for the agency (meaning our clients’ dollars go further). It also means client engagements are assured to be 100% strategy aligned no matter what pivots, adjustments or sidesteps our clients require. It’s the new way to deliver sales and marketing tactics, and in our mind, it’s the only way.