How to Maintain Your Sanity While Optimizing Your Marketing

“Resist opportunity.” Seems counter-intuitive, right? Yet, before us lie too many marketing opportunities, too much data, and so many social networks, tools, and conversations. How can B2B (define) marketers effectively set priorities, identify the most meaningful audiences, and develop the necessary content needed to participate? The resistance idea is posed by Cluetrain Manifesto co-author David Weinberger. I believe the answer has to be in accepting that none of us can successfully test everything, so we must resist the urge to try everything, and at a micro-level embrace the fact that we will never be able to track, follow, or participate in every customer or industry conversation.

David spoke last week at the MarketingProfs B2B Forum in Boston, where hundreds of marketers from companies large and small gathered to discuss digital marketing strategies, cool tools, and new ideas. Consider some ways you can effectively resist opportunity:

  1. Destination and source: Select the top places where your audience hangs out, or where they were just prior to visiting your site, and focus there. Accept that conversations will happen in other places, but that you won’t be tracking them.
  2. Tools: At the conference, we discussed dozens of cool social, customer relationship management/demand generation, and content management tools. Nearly every presenter gave a list. It’s overwhelming. Start with your business strategy and then select the right tools for the job. Remember that no tool by itself will make you relevant, helpful, or interesting. Which is why we don’t start with the tool, we start with “what do I want to achieve?”
  3. Metrics: You could be tracking many things, but ultimately, you need to align your efforts with the business drivers. Select the top two to three metrics which really reflect the contribution of marketing to the key business measures, which are usually sales, cost savings, and employee/customer participation in programs. This is actually really hard. If you select, “increase revenue” as your goal, that may not let you narrow down your key metrics and focus your efforts. If you select, “increase revenue from financial services companies” or “increase revenue by reducing churn” or “increase revenue by shortening the sales cycle” or “increase revenue by improving the average order size;” then you start to see where the key metrics lie.

Everything in marketing sounds like a good idea. Let’s write that white paper, host that Webinar, jump into that community forum, tweet more. To keep yourself sane, the trick is to create some amazing content once, then repurpose it for other channels (e.g., video, mobile, social) and package it for various vertical markets. Simple optimization tasks, like adding calls to action to your blogs, encourage deeper interaction and let every effort work harder.

When it comes to owning the forum for the conversation in your industry or participating in existing ones, the decisive factor is what you have to say that is unique or different. There are an amazing number of communities that do not have a home online. Look to start a community when you can bring a unique value proposition to a market or audience. While very attractive in concept, owning and hosting communities takes a long-term commitment, even if the rewards are higher. That may compete with short-term, quarterly goals. Be sure to set expectations, and goals, appropriately.

Marketing has always been about connections between real people. We lost a bit of that during the mass marketing era of the last century. The Internet now puts our brand experience in the hands of buyers, with or without us. Case in point: who owns your home page – you, or Google? (I vote for the latter.) So our published content in all its forms – blogs, e-mail newsletters, catalogs, comments, Twitter replies, community contributions – adds up to a relationship.

How are you resisting opportunities, in order to connect where it really counts? Please share ideas and examples below.

What are your e-mail marketing priorities? Take this quick 10-question survey and we’ll share the results back in a future column. Thank you!

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