Building a High Performance B2B Marketing Engine, Part 2: Are You Aiming High Enough?

March 19, 2016

In the kick-off to this “Building a High Performance B2B Marketing Engine” series, we took a look under the hood to get a view of the four key areas that you need to get right to build out your marketing effort for impact. Specifically, you need to:

  • Define the true north for your organization and align it to the needs of the business
  • Make the effort scalable through dogged, “in-the-weeds” attention to technology, lead management processes, content, and talent
  • Be relevant — which starts with a firm grasp of your target audiences, and a programs focus on delivering helpful content to the them
  • Execute nimbly and intelligently based on a keen understanding of what’s working

As we begin drilling-down on the above, let’s start with what I think is arguably the single biggest opportunity for all of us to take our games to the next level, and also the biggest landmine: Setting goals for your organization and choosing the right metrics to ultimately grade the team’s success.

I’ll start with a simple question. Are you aiming high enough?  

In my role at LinkedIn, I get a chance to spend a lot of time with marketers, and I’m 100 percent convinced of at least one thing. When building out your marketing effort, where you aim has everything to do with where you land. It’s a self-fulfilling prophesy.

Let me make this more tangible through example. If you’re going to grade your team’s success based on shipping a predefined volume of leads or MQLs to the Sales team, you will very likely set in motion a self-fulfilling set of events in terms of the kinds of people you hire, the processes and technology you put in place, and the rigor you apply to program optimization. All your investments, decisions and focus will be geared to enabling you to generate and ship a boat load of leads to Sales. Again, It’s self-fulfilling.

However, if you decide that your reason for being as a marketing organization is to contribute meaningfully and tangibly to pipeline and revenue, that will put you on a very different trajectory. I believe it ultimately sets you on the path to contributing meaningfully to your company’s growth.

So what “true north” metrics should you choose to measure the impact of your team? It seems obvious that we should all anchor our success to revenue impact, right? Well, the pragmatic answer depends on where you are in the path to building out your marketing engine. If you’re on day 1, where your impact will likely be significantly limited by large process, data, technology or team gaps — and lack of buy-in or alignment with Sales and the executive team. So then it may be wise to peg your near-term impact to specific progress metrics (e.g., MQLs generated, pipeline influence) to at least gage whether you’re headed in the right direction.  

But, be careful to set your longer-term sights higher. By reaching for a seat at the table with your head of Sales, CFO, and CEO, and taking accountability for contributing to bookings, that will give you the fortitude — and the right —to lobby for the resources, budget, and additional headcount needed to support the revenue-producing goal.  

Said another way, just aiming for a higher bar very likely sets the right wheels in motion to get the resources you need to hurdle it.

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