One of the most concerning complaints we hear from CEOs is that they don't believe marketers understand the business. They don't know how to align marketing goals with the company's mission.
And when I read stats like this one — from Planful's Operational Marketing Index — that only 40% of marketers are setting goals based on company objectives, it's no wonder CEOs see a disconnect. It's not their imagination. And that's why so many C-suite execs are reluctant to fund new marketing ideas or fresh campaigns.
Today, we will explore marketing goals and business goals, and learn how to align your marketing goals and strategies to the business mission. But first, let's have a quick refresher on what we've covered thus far.
Now that you've read this far into my Confident Marketer Playbook, you know how to develop personal confidence as a marketing professional. You understand how to create a positive mindset, and you're thinking ahead.
You're also taking action by developing customer profiles and personas to identify your ideal clients and learn ways to reach and satisfy them.
Now, let's ensure you align marketing goals to match your business goals. We call this business alignment.
More than half of CEOs (58%) believe key issues with low CMO tenure are the lack of speaking the language of the business and using too much marketing jargon.
When CEOs complain that marketers don't speak the language of the business, they are typically referring to a lack of alignment between marketing goals and the company's broader goals. Specifically, they feel marketers are too focused on metrics specific only to marketing, such as click-through rates, social media "likes," or website traffic, without considering how these metrics tie into broader business objectives, like revenue growth or customer acquisition.
In other words, many marketers speak a "language" specific to their area of expertise but don't use the terminology or metrics that resonate with other executive team members or the organization.
To overcome this challenge, marketers must work to align marketing goals and metrics with broader business objectives. Here's how:
Every organization is unique, but here are some of the common business goals that you'll see most:
While revenue growth and profitability are almost always at the top of any company's priorities, an excellent marketer will reassess these topics at least annually.
Looking at the above list, ask yourself, how do your marketing efforts fit in and support the organization's goals?
Imagine you're preparing to pitch a new campaign to the C-suite. You'll need to work some of those angles and prove your efforts will be rewarding to the organization as a whole.
Revenue is an obvious first choice. Every organization — even 501(c)(3)s — must meet minimum revenue requirements to stay in the black or scale up. Hard data always helps. Be ready to explain how much revenue a marketing activity will contribute.
This is another powerful point, often high on an organization's list of priorities. You'll need to explain where the company stands today regarding market share. You also need to get insights into your competitors and their positions in the market. Ask yourself, how will you measure this and present these numbers?
The marketing department has little control over things like bulk purchasing costs or shipping rates, which can significantly affect your company's bottom line. But we can find ways to spend less on customer acquisition. It's all about getting the best "bang for your marketing buck" and illustrating that point to the powers that be.
The marketing team needs to learn what customers want/need continually. It's about seeing your customers' pain points and addressing them. From there, you need to spread the word to existing and potential clients that solutions exist. Innovation goes hand-in-hand with increasing market share, and by solving problems, you'll attract new business.
Once you've onboarded new customers, the communication must continue. It's important to keep them in the loop on product updates and changes, and it's also essential to tackle customer service hiccups immediately. Finally, ongoing customer satisfaction is vital for building Top of Mind Awareness (TOMA.)
Know that the company's employees — past, present, and prospective — are out there every day building a personal brand on social media and other outlets, whether they know it or not! If your company craves positive employee reviews, better talent acquisition and retention, and a healthy social or environmental reputation, the marketing department can help. While your efforts in these realms might not affect revenue directly, they will cascade throughout the business reputation, and they do matter a lot!
As you're aware, revenue is the money regular business operations generate. And there are several ways to grow revenue. For instance, one can use loss leaders to attract new business and boost sales of related products with higher profit margins. On the other hand, sometimes a price increase for an updated product with elevated packaging is in order. These are only two suggestions to consider.
The customer lifecycle is my favorite tool to align marketing goals with business goals.
Determine if you have a solid plan/goal by addressing the following points and asking the critical questions.
Speaking of the sales funnel, here are some fun statistics you can cite in your next meeting with your CEO about why an investment in marketing is not "nice to have." It's a "must-have."
LinkedIn recently published a thorough report called Brand-and-Demand, The Key Principles of Marketing Growth, which contains tremendous insights for marketing professionals.
To accomplish this, LinkedIn teamed up with IPA, Les Benet, and Peter Field to discover what it takes to maximize marketing growth. They surveyed 3,702 marketers across nine industries, including tech, travel, healthcare, manufacturing, and more.
Their research suggests the following:
Ultimately, your marketing mix needs to be about balance. If your organization is revenue-focused at this time (when is it not?), you can still ensure your ad budgets are spent attracting new business and appeasing your current client base.
Grab a cup of coffee and let all this information simmer in your subconscious. We've covered a lot of ground. In the next segment, Module 6, we'll explore how to create a unique message that is relevant, consistent, and measurable, so stay tuned.
← Read Step 4: Ideate Your Best Customers to Develop Customer Profiles
→ Read Step 6: Create a Value Proposition that Matters to your Customers