Like a lot of tech companies in the Bay Area, mine was closed from Christmas to New Year’s, which gave us all time to think about what we’ve been doing and what lies ahead. Along with personal resolutions, I couldn’t help but think about our roles as well. Here are some resolutions for Demand Generation and Marketing Operations professionals that will help make 2017 a successful and rewarding year. Some of these may be obvious, but even some of my mentors this past year have lamented about how they’ve sometimes lost sight of the fundamentals.
Live the Data-Driven Marketing Mantra
Coming to a team meeting where decisions are made without solid data in hand is like bringing a knife to a gunfight. Working on buyer personas? Bring a report to the meeting with all the Leads in SFDC in the past year, by Title, that resulted in new Opportunities (feel free to drop me a note if you’re having trouble). Then check them out on LinkedIn. Pondering whether or not to participate in that new field event this year? Ask the event promoter for a full list of every attendee’s company and job title from last year’s event (I’ve never been told “no”) and see how many people align with your target buyer personas.
Think about it. The worst you might hear from a data-driven approach is someone paraphrasing Andrew Lang or Mark Twain with, “Some people use statistics like a drunk uses lampposts—for support rather than for illumination.” That may be true, but irrelevant, unless somebody knows about a better lamppost. Let the data drive your decisions in 2017.
Treat Your CMO Like the CMO, Not a Marketing Manager
When talking about your challenges and your initiatives for 2017, focus on what your CMO cares about—growing revenue and demonstrating value to the CEO. Most CMOs don’t really care about your struggles with segmentation, personalization, and crappy data. Position everything you want to accomplish in terms of how it helps further your CMOs goals, rather than yours. If your CMO wants to demonstrate value by spearheading an ABM or a predictive analytics initiative in 2017, great! Don’t focus on why your data isn’t ready. Instead, tie all of your projects, like your data automation, data quality, or data enrichment project to that initiative and show how your program can help eliminate risk with that initiative and make the CMO’s program more successful. Strategic programs that boost revenue get funded. Nice-to-have programs don’t.
Make ADRs Your Friend, Not Just Your Advocate
The stereotypical dynamic at many companies is that ADRs say demand gen sends over crappy leads and demand gen teams say that ADRs are lazy in following up. You need to move beyond that. Don’t just work closely with the ADR team, get to know them. Facebook friends at a minimum. You want to use Opportunities in SFDC to tell you what programs are working, and Lead Status to let you know which Leads have been connected with and which are rejected, but you also want to know the story behind the metrics as well. What initiatives are competing for your ADR’s attention? What pressure are they feeling from the field? Grab coffee or a beer with those folks, often. Relationships with salespeople can get you job offers that accelerate your career, or make your life a living hell. I’ve had both. You want the former.
Make MQLs and Lead Scoring Meaningful
These are key metrics that represent your work. In most companies, no one in sales or marketing trusts their Lead Scores. But you can make them count. If your lead scoring results look nothing like your buyer personas, then get them aligned. Meet with your ADRs monthly to help reconcile the difference between Sales Accepted Leads and Marketing Qualified Leads. If you need to clean and enrich your data to get reliable info in the fields that matter, like Job Function (e.g., targeting Demand Generation roles in Marketing, but not Product Marketing), Industry, and Job Level info to make Lead Scoring work reasonably well, start that data cleansing and enrichment project now so you can start share data everyone trusts.
Shiny is Good, But Focus on Your Results
Over the last couple years, it seems like more and more marketing departments have been trained by Gollum—focused primarily on acquiring those shiny new objects in their MarTech stack. While headhunters will often find you based on shiny object keyword searches in LinkedIn, hiring managers will hire you based on what you’ve been able to achieve with those shiny apps. Focus on quantitative results you can soundbite, as you’ll get hired and promoted based on what you deliver rather than what you buy.
Gain the Visibility You Need & Deserve
You should never be the “man behind the curtain” to your sales and marketing leadership. If you’re not already doing so, ask your VP of Sales if you can listen in on weekly sales calls. Those meetings will be eye-opening. After you’ve attended a few, ask for a minute or two of airtime to talk about new programs that affect the team. Then get in the habit of sending a very short, weekly report to the head of sales with a sentence or two about upcoming campaigns, show some early results, and highlight a few exceptional leads coming into the funnel from your campaigns (drop me a note if you’d like to see a few examples). More than likely that email will get forwarded around to key members of the team. You want sales leadership to know what you’ve fed into the top of the funnel, not just what gets tossed over the fence to the field.
Hope you have an exciting, measurable, and productive 2017!