In 2014 the sporting goods industry, in the United States alone, was valued at more than 63 billion dollars. With the promise to run faster, jump higher, hit farther, and kick harder, people are lining up to buy the latest in sports apparel and equipment. It starts at a young age. Much of that $63 billion spend comes from parents reaching deep into their pockets to buy the latest Air Jordan shoe, Tiger Woods golf club, or Under Armour college football jersey for their kids.
And as adults we’re not exempt from this practice. A few years ago I was training for an Ironman and I asked my coach, “Do you think I should buy new tires for my bike, or a different bike helmet or maybe I should try a different shoe?” Her response was simply “Mmmm, maybe you should just train harder.” And she was right. I was looking for this sports equipment to improve my performance. And while the equipment might enhance it, true performance improvement would only come from extra hill time on my bike, additional laps in the pool, and speed work on the track.
As marketers, we take a similar approach to the role of technology. As a marketing technologist I’m going to commit blasphemy in this post, but I think many of us have become too consumed with the role of technology in marketing efforts. We invest and implement technology with unreasonable expectations. With each silver bullet purchase we expect to see an increase in revenue. I receive ROI estimate requests every day. The challenge with these requests is that, like the sports equipment, the technology will enhance your performance, but in order to see true revenue growth you must commit to smart marketing practices.
For example, I met with a pharmaceutical company who stated their biggest challenge was identifying unknown visitors to their website. When I evaluated their calls-to-action across their websites, emails, and digital ads I found they were all the same; the same coupon. So even if they know who the visitor is, they’re still going to provide the same offer that the visitor already rejected on 3 different channels.
If we’re going to improve as marketers we must begin to train harder, focus on smarter marketing, and leave the technology to enhancements.
Below are 5 suggestions for training harder.
1. Find a sales training partner. Partner with sales, go on sales calls, observe, and listen. You’ll learn more in a 60-minute face-to-face with a prospect or customer than you ever will sitting in the office. Learn from the customer and learn from the sales rep. And here’s a message to sales; invite marketing on these visits. Marketing is on your side. They’re not there to judge or hinder the opportunity, they’re there to help.
2. Exercise you mind. Read in order to learn about your audience. Read the words of your customers. Read the comments of your customers’ customers. This information will inform you and develop that credibility required when you do speak with them.
3. Commit to a regiment. Remember that smart marketing doesn’t happen overnight. Commit to learn more, study, and improve every single day. Learn from experts. Read content from analysts and economists. By supporting your content and messaging with 3rd party evidence you strengthen your position.
4. Focus on the content. I cannot stress this enough. Many view this as a chicken-or-egg argument. Can you development good content without insight from technology, and can you leverage technology without good content? Like my pharmaceutical example above, your message and offers must be targeted. Technology that allows you to segment and personalize is no good to you if you haven’t developed messaging and offers that align appropriately. Invest the time in persona development, content auditing and mapping, and useful content creation.
5. Exercise for wellness, not just sexiness. Create a body of work that impresses the customer. We all want cool, slick, award-winning marketing programs. But the marketing programs that make an impact and drive revenue are smart. And this training and commitment must extend across the sales and marketing organization as well. Those organizations that can train and compete as a team will see a faster time-to-value than those who bicker over the role of team captain.
By training harder in your marketing practices you can begin to see great improvements. And as you see these improvements you’ll find that the technology you invested in will deliver more valuable insight that can be used to enhance performance. It’s only after you train, improve, and enhance that you’ll begin to see revenue generation and ROI.
You know the buzzwords; inbound, outbound, content, demand gen, lead gen, martech, social media, account-based, advocacy, customer success, sales enablement, and analytics.She studies it, plans it, executes it, experiments with it, and loves it.
Through discovery, creation, and innovation she's learned to say "Yes, And".Like business, her career is one big improvisational act.
She leads all aspects of the brand and culture, developing and executing a clearly defined, integrated marketing communications strategy.Marilyn is responsible for planning, organizing, staffing, training, and managing all marketing functions to achieve objectives of growth, awareness, customer success and making work better.
Marilyn exists to empower sales and support the customer. When not geeking out over marketing analytics, she can be found daydreaming about her unrealized dream as a professional wrestler with the WWE.
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