Countdown to 2016

Ticktock. It’s the last month of the quarter in 2015 and there is much to be done. How can marketers plan effectively for 2016 and still work to wrap up 2015 before the clock strikes midnight on December 31st? If you planned strategically, thinking in terms of building a perpetual Demand Generation Strategy versus a tactical approach, end of year is not a mad rush to rustle up a few last minute deals. However, most of us don’t aren’t able to do that just yet.

shutterstock_333070154How to think more strategically in 2016? Focus on three areas for a more productive New Year:

If you don’t focus on helping to solve your buyer’s pain points and challenges at every Engagement, you are missing opportunities and losing customers. Modern Marketers focus on educating and helping our buyers, not selling to them.  Our websites, our content, our programs and our organizations (not just customer support) need to be designed to assist buyers throughout their journey and make it the best overall experience for the buyer.

Many organizations say they are customer-centric, but actually just develop customer-focused tactics for customer-facing groups according to a recent article in Forbes. Understand your buyers, their buying committees and focus on helping solve their problems across the organization to truly be buyer-centric.

Perpetual programs-
Buyers are constantly seeking information; it is just a matter of time until their passive buying cycle becomes an active buying cycle. Marketers need to be ready to deliver quality content to help buyers answer questions or solve problems when a trigger event occurs. This can only be accomplished via building perpetual programs based on the buyer’s needs, not start-and-stop campaigns pushing one message after another to match the marketer’s agenda. Buyers seek information constantly, they are always on and your programs should be too.

Strategy first, technology second-
Too often marketers fall prey to the “shiny new object” syndrome. We want the newest technology, the newest solution or application to make our jobs easier, faster or more effective. Choosing technologies based on what they can do for us versus what we need them to do to support our business are two different things. The supergraphic of the Marketing Technology Landscape made famous by Scott Brinker, shows that the landscape basically doubled from 2014 to 2015 with more than 1,800 vendors across 43 categories. Every technology solves a problem, but make sure they are problems you need to solve. Think strategically about how to drive your organization, and revenues and then choose your technologies carefully to ensure they support the greater business goals. Not every technology is the right technology for you.

Running marketing and demand generation isn’t an easy task…it is complex and involves skills, technologies, integrated systems and data that can cause confusion in the most seasoned marketer. However, use the end of year to look ahead to plan for a more productive 2016, not squeeze in last minute offers or special pricing. That’s not the way to support a sales organization or build a loyal customer base. Focus on the strategy, becoming more buyer-centric and ensuring your technology supports your strategy. Otherwise, you will always play catch up and Modern Marketers need the last month of the year to plan for the future, not scramble to make up for lost sales of the past.

Author: Erika Goldwater CIPP/US @erikwg is Vice President, Marketing for ANNUITAS