I’m fortunate that I love my job. My current role at Vennli brings my past experiences in brand management, leadership, and marketing full circle because the tool we provide helps people in those roles be more effective. I’ve probably done at least 250 demos of Vennli’s software to business leaders. (I’m not kidding when I say I dream about demoing.)
In doing so, a couple themes have presented themselves:
- CMOs and marketing leaders commonly remark that they have access to amazing marketing automation tools to target specific messaging to certain customer segments, but they’re lacking a tool that tells them how to develop the message that will work best with those different buyer personas.
- CEOs and sales leaders remark that their sales enablement software offers amazing functionality when it comes to tracking the sales process and monitoring the effectiveness of sales activities, but they lack a tool to help them improve their sales strategy.
If you fall into one of these roles, this isn’t a surprise to you. You don’t have an easy job. Your job is to anticipate customer needs sometimes before they even know they have one and oftentimes before they have even reached out to you directly. Luckily, technology helps.
I’m going to date myself a bit here, but when I started at Kraft as a brand manager, we didn’t have HubSpot, Marketo, or Pardot. I’m amazed at the targeting tools that exist for marketers today. On LinkedIn, I can specifically target not just a certain industry but seniority level and specific job titles as well. Marketing automation tools allow me to develop campaigns that send new, valuable content to leads on a regular basis without me lifting a finger. I can test one subject line vs. another and measure pretty much everything. It’s awesome.
Salesforce.com and other CRM and sales enablement tools have really increased the efficiency of the sales process, tracking the customer throughout the entire buying process and beyond. With just a couple clicks, I can see all my new web leads, check on how many leads were qualified by my team this week, and pull up this month’s closings to date. I can even set myself reminders to follow-up with a client on their birthday.
Technology has made us more efficient and opened doors for us to customize our messages to different audiences. The modern day mantra in sales and marketing has become “the right message for the right person at the right time.�?
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All of these tools make the delivery of my messaging easier, more efficient, and trackable. But… what is the “right message?�? I can A/B test anything, but, at its core, what am I saying?
Technology means nothing if it’s garbage in, garbage out. As they say, “content is king.�? If I don’t have the right message, I’m just delivering poor messaging to audiences faster and more efficiently. Ouch.
As marketers and business leaders, we know that one message is not appropriate for all customers. No one has a “Joe Customer.�? Aggregate customer data only tells part of the story. We all have a diverse collection of different audiences, with different needs and perceptions, that all require tailored messaging in order for you to be most effective. I need to be able to develop targeted messaging that speaks directly to each of them. I need to know how they think.
I haven’t always been in a selling role. I’ve sat where my customers are sitting, and have lost sleep due to the same stressors that keep them up at night. You’d think this would make me understand my customers more… but I still wouldn’t bet on my assumptions. The truth is, despite having over 20 years of marketing and customer experience under my belt, if you asked me what my customers think, I’d be wrong.
And my guess is so would you. Not on purpose, of course. Despite all our knowledge and experience, we just aren’t very good at standing in our customers’ shoes. No one is. This is something that has been reinforced during my tenure here at Vennli. Every day I see businesses compare their internal thinking to that of their customers, and it never matches. Never.
And that’s to be expected. We can’t be expected to think just like our customers. Instead, our job as leaders and marketers is to recognize our bias, learn what our customers value, and then apply that learning in our strategy. This requires data.
“In God we trust, all others must bring data.�?
Having the right data reduces the risk in your strategy. With the right data, you can confidently determine the right message for the right customer and then use that awesome technology to deliver it at the right time and track its effectiveness.
The focus on data-driven marketing is shining the spotlight on using technology to increase marketing ROI. When I have lunch with my marketing and business development peers, the challenge of moving customers through the pipeline always comes up. Someone expresses frustration that their amazing email campaign resulted in lackluster click-through rates. Someone else complains that they lost an enterprise sale they were sure they were going to get. Another fears their leadership is going to come down on them for not meeting lead generation or sales quotas.
Once their strategy fails, then they capture data on its effectiveness and use that learning to try to do better the next time. But isn’t this backwards? Shouldn’t we start with data BEFORE creating our strategy so we do it right the first time?
I’ve realized it doesn’t have to be that way. We don’t have to try to be mind readers. We don’t have to take unnecessary risks and learn through A/B testing during implementation. We can gather customer insights to uncover what matters to different customer segments before creating the marketing or sales message, when it has the opportunity to make your strategy successful.
An eConsultancy survey found that 52% of marketers reported that data wasn’t available to them for all applications, resulting in blind spots. Further, 39% complained that data was difficult to obtain, and 24% reported the data was stale.
When customer data is used to drive marketing messaging that is tailored to certain customer segments, then marketing automation and sales enablement tools can obtain incredible ROI. What do you need to do to flip your thinking and demand data early on in your strategic process?
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