Planning and forecasting are critical skills for B2B marketers. These processes are, unfortunately, a combination of science, art and black magic. Nonetheless, we need, on average, to do better. You don’t help your company – or your career – when you ask your management repeatedly for additional funding or make frequent excuses for poor performance.
Here are three excuses we think marketers should never use.
You should have known about this up front and planned for that expenditure.
A study of 243 CMOs and other marketing executives by the Columbia Business School Center on Global Brand Leadership and the New York American Marketing Association found that 57% don’t make budgets, 28% use gut instinct to estimate costs, and 7% don’t use any metrics whatsoever. Yet another poll in Crain’s BtoB Magazine cited the lack of accurate measurements and the inability to attribute costs to online conversions as key challenges for 40% of the respondents.
At a minimum you should be using Google Analytics (free) and to build a spreadsheet with sources, spend and percent. You can use this as a teaser to build a case for funding to obtain advanced metrics and to create a dashboard.
That statement sounds like an open-ended venture for which an undetermined level of funding is needed.
You should instead emphasize that you need to run a limited series of tests to optimize and scale campaigns. You need to structure these activities in a scientific manner with well-defined boundaries. Any such request should contain the following information:
• Why do we need to do this?
• What will we learn from these tests?
• How will we apply this information?
• How many tests? What will they cost?
• Will the results require follow-on testing?
Good marketers know that refinement through ongoing experimentation is critical for success. As such, you need to play the expectations game early with your management. They need to know, as part of any planning and forecasting process, that experiments are a fundamental way of tuning marketing processes.
The blame game is self-defeating. You may gain a momentary political advantage, but ultimately this approach will come back to haunt you.
Even if the sales organization is truly at fault, never say that. You must let metrics tell the story, and allow your management to ask the tough questions. These are some measurements worth discussing:
• How long do leads stay in a “pending” state before sales accepts or rejects them?
• Why were “hot” leads rejected? Or, why were they classified that way in the first place?
• Is marketing receiving appropriate feedback about leads that could not be converted?
Make sure you sure you review the facts with your counterpart in sales before discussing them with the management team. If you haven’t taken the initiative to fix issues across organizations, it will reflect badly on you.