Modern marketing organizations have just gotten too complex. Companies are launching new products at an accelerated pace and geographic footprints are expanding. There are new channels to address and a bloating marketing technology stack to manage. Content tagging, search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM), data regulation and campaign optimization have become increasingly multidisciplinary. And teams are widely dispersed around the world, with new cultural, language and timezone challenges to navigate.
This complexity is happening amidst a market where consumer preferences and competitive actions are changing with stunning velocity. Customer fragmentation and shorter attention spans are bringing new challenges for marketers to effectively break through the noise and improve marketing performance.
In this data-rich, tech-intensive environment, it’s no surprise the complexity of our work and organization has swelled. But is all this complexity actually improving marketing performance?
A recent Gartner report shows that marketing budgets are stagnant, while expectations of CMOs remain high to show return on investment (ROI) to justify future budgetary allocations. Marketers have so many options when looking to buy new technologies, from email marketing platforms to web content management to digital analytics platforms, but from my experience, simplification can improve marketing performance and speed. Here are six ideas that can help you simplify:
1. Treat your agencies and vendors as equal members of your team.
It’s easy to treat agencies as vendors that can be replaced, but both parties get more out of the relationship when a true partnership exists. At Fuze, our healthy ecosystem of agencies and contractors feels more like a family, and many even have Fuze email addresses and security badges. Our agencies can finish our sentences, our vendors know our metrics and, while there are still challenges along the way, the overall work has improved with the length of the relationships.
Simplify your marketing by investing more time in your current partners instead of continuously searching for new ones. I am reminded that in the early 1980s, Steve Jobs and ad agency Chiat\Day formed one of the most enduring and creative client-agency relationships ever. In a business known for corporate infidelity, Jobs worked with the same agency for decades, creating some of the world’s most magical ads, including “Think Different” and "Mac vs. PC." We should all be so fortunate.
2. Don’t add a new marketing or sales technology without first eliminating one.
According to the aforementioned Gartner survey, at 29 percent, marketing technology is now the largest part of many CMOs' annual marketing budgets. If your team is anything like mine, we love having new toys to play with. But how many of us have bought too many technologies that are underutilized? We buy into the dream but never seem to have enough time to fully leverage all the technology we’ve purchased.
The scarcer resource is not money, however, but time. Choose your technologies thoughtfully and take the time to get the most out of them. Marketers are only using a fraction of the capabilities of our technologies. It is generally better to go deep into the technologies you already have than to add new ones. But if you do opt to add a new marketing or sales technology, consider replacing a current one that has gone underutilized.
3. Invest in sales enablement.
Great marketing means nothing if the sales team is not enabled to communicate value. Your marketing will be infinitely more effective if the handoffs to sales are well-executed. Many of us build really complicated cockpits for our sales team with too many plug-ins, competing priorities, constantly changing messaging and mysterious new technologies. We should be simplifying the lives of our sales reps.
If you have never experienced a “day in the life” of a sales rep, start now. Sit next to a rep and see how they work their leads and priorities, and you'll see countless opportunities to simplify their work. In the process, the yield on your marketing investments will likely climb.
4. Don’t seek perfection.
One of my favorite lines from Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina is, “If you look for perfection, you'll never be content.”
Perfection in marketing is seldom worth the price. While I love A/B testing, optimizing my SEM spend and proofreading everything that goes out, getting the last 2 to 3 percent toward perfection will inevitably slow you down. I am a great believer in getting campaigns out there and continuously improving.
5. Execute fewer campaigns, but make each one count.
We all run a lot of campaigns, and then we are off to the next one. Running fewer campaigns allows everyone in marketing to focus on making each campaign as effective and multichannel as possible. I am more impressed by campaign quality and yield than I am about volume.
6. Ditch your private office.
As the leader of Fuze’s global marketing team, I operate without a private office, but I didn’t always. For the first 20 years of my career, I worked in “insulated bliss” behind a door, shielded from hearing how my team spoke on the phone and interacted with one another. When I joined Fuze four years ago, I was given a private office, but I never used it. Instead, I turned it into a conference room for everyone to use, and I sit in the open with my team every day.
This simple move has accelerated everything for me and my team. When I hear someone talking to a customer or agency on the phone, I can provide immediate feedback following the call. When I struggle to understand a new technology or campaign, there is always someone close by to help. My team also gets to hear how I talk about Fuze to our customers, prospects and agencies. All this leads to a tighter alignment on messaging and faster onboarding of new team members.
It’s easy to get bogged down by the sheer amount of technologies available to marketers today, but the priority should be identifying the tools that will enable actionable insights and drive sales. Executives and marketing leaders who embrace simplicity will not only have a clearer picture of their sales funnel but also a better understanding of their customers, vendors and employees.