Entrepreneurs face a twofold marketing conundrum. They need to build their brand, generate leads, convert leads to sales, and inspire customer loyalty like any other business, but they also need to run their company, achieve profitability, scale, and sometimes do much of the marketing themselves.
This came to mind as I was reading Paul Roetzer’s latest book, The Marketing Performance Blueprint. The book is a primer on how companies can outthink (not outspend) the competition by building performance-driven marketing programs.
Roetzer knows all about this approach; he’s the founder of PR 20/20, an inbound agency that uses performance-driven marketing to produce real ROI and buzz for companies.
The book gives actionable advice on everything from talent acquisition and training to metrics-based goals and integrated campaigns. It’s a book every business owner should read.
To get you started, here are a few of my high-level takeaways from the book.
Construct an Internal Marketing Academy
There’s a war going on for marketing talent. Tech-savvy professionals who can build, manage, and execute fully integrated campaigns that produce measurable results are in high demand, and many young professionals coming straight out of college are unprepared to enter such a rapidly changing industry.
Business owners can build a competitive advantage with talent by recruiting and committing to train a team of modern marketers. Roetzer suggests an internal marketing academy composed of internal and external resources, including online courses, industry certifications, books, webinars, industry expert talks, and real-world exercises.
The emphasis here is on ROI: By creating individual training plans, companies can turn strong candidates from nontraditional backgrounds into hybrid professionals who run integrated campaigns that perform.
Propel Growth Through Agency Partners
Some companies can’t build robust internal academies at their current stage. If that describes you, the right agency can fill skill gaps on your marketing team.
The advertising landscape is littered with traditional agencies struggling to transform their business models. Agencies that provide integrated services, versatile talent, value-based pricing, and measurable results are the future. However, these firms are in short supply. To find one, Roetzer suggests businesses focus on these core areas during the vetting process:
- Performance-driven partners: Work with an agency that cares as much about performance and success as you do.
- A top-shelf account team: Look for firms that have a history of recruiting and retaining top talent.
- Tech-savvy staff: The agency should use integrated marketing technologies in client campaigns and use them to run its own business.
- Digital DNA: Having a digital division doesn’t cut it. Agencies siloed into search, mobile, and analytics face the same problems as their cumbersome corporate counterparts. Digital must be fully integrated into every program and budget.
- A track record of success: A history of producing results for clients is critical, but you should also look at how the agency manages and promotes its own brand and talent.
- A systems-oriented approach: Align with an agency that takes a systematic approach to professional development, project management, client services, monitoring, measurement and reporting, and communications.
When all else is equal, choose the agency with a culture that emphasizes strong agency-client partnerships based on trust, respect, and fully aligned expectations and goals.
Get the Right Technology for Your Customers — and Your Company
The traditional stages of the customer journey (awareness, consideration, intent, decision, and validation) are still in play, but interactions between brands and customers occur along a nonlinear path across multiple devices (e.g., computers, phones, tablets) that produce an abundance of data about consumer behavior.
Performance-driven marketers use technology such as marketing automation and customer relationship management solutions to manage, monitor, and analyze that data. There has been an explosion of marketing-related SaaS solutions, and senior-level marketers are now tasked with selecting and managing software, which was once IT’s responsibility.
Roetzer suggests business owners construct a framework of solutions that can scale and adapt as their businesses grow. Keeping up with the convergence of marketing and technology will require organizations to appoint a chief marketing technologist or similar leader who drives and oversees digital transformation.
No one technology is a silver bullet, but the right ones can differentiate your brand and drive business results as long as they’re part of a cohesive plan.
Produce a Marketing Assessment and Performance Scorecard
Part of that plan is an overall marketing assessment. Roetzer offers a free tool called Marketing Score that evaluates more than 130 factors to produce a comprehensive assessment of a business’s foundation, reach, expectations, and potential.
Making an initial assessment and comparing it against a marketing performance scorecard is essential for measuring the success of your efforts. Roetzer offers six steps to build an effective scorecard:
- Prioritize marketing goals. At what stage in the marketing funnel do you need to move the needle the most?
- Identify key performance indicators. What metrics matter most to measure those marketing goals?
- Customize your funnel. Select one prime goal and up to 10 supporting metrics for each stage of the funnel.
- Input and analyze data. When building a benchmark scorecard, it’s preferable to have 12 months’ worth of data. Google Analytics is one of the best free data sources available that can provide a wealth of insight into visitor behavior, conversions, and campaign performance.
- Establish benchmarks and prime goals. Create realistic and achievable benchmarks based on forward projections and historical data to reach your prime goals.
- Update and activate the scorecard. Create consistent reporting with standardized metrics.
Create a Marketing Game Plan
When it’s time to put your scorecard into practice, Roetzer advises business owners to create a marketing game plan. Game plans are based on deep research that evaluates historical performance, technology infrastructure, success potential, marketing assets, competitors, industry trends, and resources.
This evaluation will inform your budgets, goals, audience segmentation, and buyer persona profiles, as well as guide the creation of what Roetzer calls “builder” and “driver” campaigns.
Builders are recurring campaigns, such as blogging and social media, which lay the groundwork for future success. Drivers capitalize on existing assets to generate short-term gains. They’re typically conducted over one- to three-month periods. Think of builders as marathons and drivers as sprints. Both are needed for an integrated performance-driven strategy.
At the end of the day, execution is what matters to your business. High performers differentiate by doing, not planning. So do your homework, put your strategies in place, and start testing and revising your marketing plan.
For more in-depth guidance on performance-driven marketing, I’d recommend reading The Marketing Performance Blueprint.