A PSA To Executives Looking For A Marketing Magic Bullet: You Won’t Find One
My co-founder and I just spent weeks putting together a 2024 marketing plan for one of our clients, an innovative advisor fintech platform with nothing but incredible opportunity ahead of them.
Using their marketing budget, a couple million dollars, we outlined six months of initiatives that included:
- A total brand transformation, including positioning, visuals and messaging
- Launching into the as-yet-untapped enterprise space
- Designing an entirely new demand generation engine
- Putting a PR plan in place for the first time
- Implementing a robust event strategy — again, for the first time
- Leveling up current product marketing efforts
Comprehensive, aggressive, ambitious. That’s kind of how we roll.
The CEO felt differently.
“This feels very safe to me,” he said after we finished presenting our plan.
Let me pause here to go on record saying I genuinely love this company. Their people are smart. Their product is innovative and differentiated — which can be difficult to come by in our hyper commoditized fintech space. They’re enthusiastic brainstormers with a lot of industry knowledge.
But hearing the CEO call a holistic, fundamentally focused, multi-channel marketing strategy built to maximize their budget safe — without yet having seen any creative concepts to accompany the campaigns — made me realize marketers are still facing an uphill battle.
It’s not so much the comment itself that alarmed me, but the bigger, still apparently pervasive misconception it represents.
Executives, even very smart, successful company leaders, still believe marketing is all about pulling one magic lever or doing something so disruptive and attention-grabbing that it immediately sends your pipeline into overdrive.
I am here to tell you this is not true. And dispelling this unfair and entirely unrealistic notion for all of the marketers that come after me is a large part of why I started Intention.ly in the first place.
Successful, creative, exceptional, innovative marketing always starts with the fundamentals.
Last year, there was a ton of hype around Monday.com’s Super Bowl commercial — and for good reason. A B2B SaaS company taking up space alongside Coke and Nike during the single biggest advertising event of the year is gutsy and frankly unprecedented.
But when you peel back the curtain and take a look at Monday.com’s broader marketing strategy, it becomes clear that the commercial was only possible because all of Monday’s fundamentals were already in place.
They’ve built a well-oiled demand generation engine. They’re executing a thoughtful content strategy across multiple channels. I don’t have access to their data, but based on company growth, I think it’s safe to say they’re consistently hitting their goals.
You can do big, bold things in marketing like Super Bowl commercials. That’s part of the fun. But if you don’t put the fundamentals in place first, no one will see or care about your grand slam. First you need to do the hard, slow, somewhat unexciting work of:
- Building brand
- Growing an audience
- Making sure your messaging resonates with your audience
- Aligning your product to your customers’ needs
- Understanding your metrics: cost per lead, customer acquisition cost, sales cycle length, pipeline velocity, etc.
When you master bunts and base hits, you earn the right to swing for the fences.
Part of the problem is that a CEO who has traditionally focused on product development is conditioned to put all of his proverbial eggs in one big, splashy basket. But marketing doesn’t have that luxury. The real world isn’t Mad Men, and marketers can’t sit around with bourbon and cigars, mulling over a single incredible concept to drive enough revenue for the entire year.
They need metrics and clean, organized data to continuously make informed decisions. They need to build a brand their audience loves. They need to make sure they’re getting in front of prospects who are ready to buy with product differentiators and solution-focused messaging, while using thoughtful, educational content to create demand from the rest of the market that isn’t yet in a buying cycle.
All of that requires fundamental work.
Think about marketing fundamentals like putting new tires on a car. Is there a less exciting way to spend money? No, there is not. But if you don’t, you will quite literally get nowhere.
Investing in marketing fundamentals isn’t safe. It’s absolutely critical.
The good news…? This sparked great conversations with the client, and we’re in a phenomenal place, ready to head into next year prepared to execute. Excited to watch them put this plan into action and witness the all-but-safe results it yields.