Tim Parkin, Author at MarTech MarTech: Marketing Technology News and Community for MarTech Professionals Tue, 23 May 2023 18:26:51 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=6.1.1 How to overcome marketing budget cuts and hiring freezes https://martech.org/how-to-overcome-marketing-budget-cuts-and-hiring-freezes/ Wed, 10 May 2023 14:48:42 +0000 https://martech.org/?p=384285 By talking to customers, being ruthless with priorities and optimizing for conversions, marketing can become a bit more manageable.

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Being a marketing leader is arguably one of the hardest jobs right now. You’re expected to achieve aggressive targets in an unrealistic timeframe on a limited budget with a small and often inexperienced team overwhelmed with demands. The good news is: you’re not alone.

As a coach to marketing executives and their teams, I’ve been talking with lots of them to understand what they’re struggling with and how they’re overcoming the challenges facing marketers today. These include hiring freezes, budget cuts, unrealistic targets, reduced awareness and increased price sensitivity, to name a few.

Some of these are the same challenges marketers have faced forever. But many are heightened to a new level given the economic difficulties that have disrupted corporations and consumers alike.

The post-pandemic timeframe has been just as volatile and unpredictable as its predecessor. There’s a lot of uncertainty, chaos and confusion around what’s happening, what will happen and what to do about it.

Across all of my conversations and coaching sessions, here are the three common patterns I’ve heard from marketing leaders about what they’re facing right now and how to overcome them.

1. Talk to customers

When times are good, talk to your customers. When times are bad, talk to your customers. You can never talk to your customers enough.

Especially in the current environment, it’s more important than ever to regularly talk to them. They want to give you feedback, share their opinion, feel heard and know you really care about them. Having conversations with customers helps build loyalty, increase retention and can even lead to upselling them on additional products or services.

All of these benefits are important, yet few marketing leaders are actually talking with customers on a regular basis. They don’t actually put any effort into starting conversations. It’s a shame since nothing bad can happen from talking to your customers

Dig deeper: B2B marketing budgets stalled out in 2022

I firmly believe in customer proximity: Whoever is closest to the customer wins. And this often comes down to the companies that spend the most time in conversation, connection and community with their customers.

Talking to your customers will also help you identify what’s important to them. It’s your job to listen, synthesize and help translate this to the senior leadership for the company to focus on what really matters.

2. Prioritize ruthlessly

Marketing is like raspberry jam — the more you spread it the thinner it gets. This applies to your team, your budget and your efforts.

If you want to move the needle, you have to focus. It turns out that’s one of the hardest things for marketing leaders to do. Most leaders I spoke with had an overwhelming list of “priorities” and insufficient time or resources to invest in them.

We must accept our limitations and embrace them rather than hoping “it will all work out somehow.” If your budget was cut or your team has been reduced, you can’t continue at the same pace.

This requires a new level of decision-making and commitment, one that I refer to as ruthless prioritization. It prevents wasted time, money and effort and keeps the team on track to achieve their goals. And, most importantly, it’s fairly simple to adopt.

An important first step in this direction is communication. Marketing leaders must communicate these limits and fight to protect themselves and their teams. It’s your responsibility to draw a line in the sand and explain what it means to everyone in the company. If you don’t set boundaries and realistic expectations, no one else will.

You can always do more in the future … when you have more time, a bigger team and a new budget. Until then, you must prioritize ruthlessly.

And most marketing leaders agree that optimizing for conversions is one of the most important things to prioritize right now.

3. Optimize for conversions

Every marketing leader understands the importance of revenue. We must close deals, make sales, generate opportunities and capture leads. All of this comes down to conversions.

Unfortunately, most marketing simply doesn’t convert. Consumer behavior, price sensitivity and increasing competition are just a few of the reasons that driving conversions is hard, especially in today’s environment. 

In addition, most marketing teams are too preoccupied with producing more content or launching the next campaign instead of optimizing for conversions. My conversations revealed that this is partly due to a lack of skills and a team to support it but also because of a lack of ruthless prioritization. We know that optimizing for conversions is essential, yet we ignore it because there are too many other things to focus on.

Instead of launching and moving on to the next campaign, it’s imperative to iterate and improve. To analyze and optimize. To invest in optimizing and improving your conversion rate. 

This allows you to get a better result (and more revenue) with the same or fewer resources. Higher conversion rates lead to greater engagement, more leads, more sales and more revenue. Not to mention higher profit margins.

And, small improvements compound quickly. A slight improvement in the conversion rate of several areas of your marketing can add up to massive gains. Plus, your team will start to understand what works — and why — so they can continue to create marketing that converts from the beginning.

It should come as no surprise that optimizing for conversions relies on talking to your customers and is an effort you must prioritize ruthlessly. Regardless if you have a sizable budget and a sufficient team — or if you don’t — you’ll find the highest ROI from focusing on optimizing for conversions.

All of the marketing leaders expressed a constant challenge of balancing short-term wins versus long-term gains. How can we show results now while also driving future growth? This is where optimizing for conversions is the holy grail of marketing since it delivers both short-term and long-term results from a minimal upfront investment.

Focusing on the fundamentals

Regardless of the economic climate, competitive pressure, or consumer demand, marketing leaders will continue to face the same challenges. Doing more with less seems to be the constant.

It’s important to realize that there is no silver bullet. AI, TikTok and influencers won’t save your marketing. You’ll probably never have enough resources, a big enough team or sufficient support from the top. But don’t let that dissuade you.

Marketing is a job for those who are passionate about their audience, believe in their value proposition and will dive in head-first and face great challenges to achieve even the most ambitious goals.

Despite the limitations and difficulties, remember this: you’re not alone. Every marketing leader is facing a similar set of challenges. And all of us can step back, take a deep breath and revisit the fundamentals. 

By talking to customers, being ruthless with our priorities and optimizing for conversions, marketing can become a bit easier and more manageable.

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The end of marketing or a new beginning? The truth about AI https://martech.org/the-end-of-marketing-or-a-new-beginning-the-truth-about-ai/ Thu, 06 Apr 2023 14:38:39 +0000 https://martech.org/?p=379965 Artificial intelligence is shifting marketing approaches. Here's what you need to know to stay up-to-date and prepare for what's ahead.

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Love it or hate it, the artificial intelligence revolution is here. People can’t stop talking about ChatGPT, OpenAI and how AI will fundamentally change the world. Marketers everywhere are obsessing over the newly discovered power of AI.

Amid the jaw-dropping realizations of what AI is capable of, marketers are faced with an existential question that’s a bit daunting to consider: Is this the end of marketing as we know it? After all, you can ask ChatGPT almost any question and get an exact answer.

Need to know how to set up form conversion tracking in Google Tag Manager? Just ask ChatGPT and it will give you step-by-step instructions.

Want to build a keyword strategy, craft a job description for a new hire, or write the copy for a new landing page? The AI will do it for you immediately and effortlessly.

It’s no surprise that marketers everywhere are concerned that AI will render many aspects of marketing obsolete, but before you start worrying, let’s remember that this has happened before:

  • Direct mail was disrupted by email.
  • The phone book was replaced by online search.
  • Newspapers and magazines were largely replaced by social media.
  • Telemarketing was replaced by SMS marketing.

Artificial intelligence is the next technological innovation that will fundamentally shift marketing approaches. Here’s what you need to know to stay up-to-date and prepare for the new world of marketing.

What’s changed (and what hasn’t)

The fast-paced evolution of artificial intelligence has already changed many things about marketing, but there are still several pillars that will stand the test of time.

Here’s a quick preview to give you a perspective on how to think about the future of marketing in a world dominated by AI.

Search engines

Searching on Google for information or answers will soon seem as useful as flipping through the yellow pages to find a reliable business. People will ask AI questions and get specific, contextualized and detailed answers.

You can even ask the AI to clarify an answer or provide more options. It’s time to rethink your SEO and content strategy.

Content production

Creating content is already much easier and faster, thanks to artificial intelligence. As if we needed more content, AI will result in an explosion of content like we’ve never seen before. This isn’t speculative — it’s already happening. 

There are now tools capable of creating complete articles, slide decks, talking head videos and even reproducing anyone’s voice. These tools are fast, affordable and extremely accurate. Plus, they’re only going to get better.

Dig deeper: 5 AI writing assistants in action

Data analysis

Consuming lots of inputs and information and making sense of it is complicated, complex and time-consuming. Not anymore.

AI makes data analysis, insights generation and even predictive analytics easier. Your data and reporting will evolve to a significantly new level of sophistication without too much effort or cost.

Consumer behavior

Fortunately, people are still the same. We are still emotional, irrational and human. That means that the marketing fundamentals will still work the same, only the mechanism has changed.

Consumers will still look to each other for guidance, approval and recommendations. Creating conversations, connections and community is still a smart and reliable approach. 

Thought leadership

No artificial intelligence is sentient (capable of conscious experience) — yet — so most of what we’ll see in the near term is the repackaging, repurposing and regurgitation of existing thoughts, ideas and content.

Thought leadership is still paramount in the form of original and innovative ideas. Every marketer should continue to pursue creating and distributing thought leadership to stand out in the sea of sameness.


Nothing beats having a powerful brand. Building a recognizable, trustworthy and desirable brand is still challenging, time-consuming and expensive.

The power of having a strong brand will only increase. Savvy marketers should continue their investments in brand building.

Dig deeper: Building a brand strategy: Essentials for long-term success

The pros and cons of AI in marketing

Artificial intelligence isn’t perfect. Although it will make marketing easier, it also brings some significant concerns and considerations. 

First, here are some of the major wins:

Improved efficiency

Marketers are constantly overwhelmed with many tasks that AI can easily take over. Using AI will enable small teams (or individuals) to scale their efforts and be more efficient, which will have an enormous impact on the results that can be achieved.

Data-driven insights

Consuming, processing and summarizing large data sets is one of AI’s biggest strengths. Marketers can use this to mine insights from multiple data sources to inform and optimize our marketing efforts.

Google Analytics already provides “Analytics Intelligence,” which uses machine learning to answer questions about your data and build customized reports. 


Delivering truly customized experiences is no longer a pipe dream. Email platforms can already use machine learning to send messages to customers at the exact right time, based on their historical behavior of when they’ve opened emails in the past.

As the capabilities evolve, AI will be able to create brand-new, unique and personalized experiences, content and conversations with users.

Cost savings

The time and cost savings of using AI tools will be one of the biggest impacts on every marketing organization. Marketing budgets are notoriously thin. The ability to reduce expenses and achieve greater scale will be transformative for marketers. AI also brings a new level of automation that will deliver immense time and cost savings.

Dig deeper: How AI can help your marketing right now

However, there are some significant concerns with the adoption of AI:

Quality and accuracy

Since artificial intelligence cannot think independently, there are massive concerns about the quality, accuracy and integrity of its output.

How can you trust what the AI says? What source is it relying on? We must be vigilant about ensuring that anything the AI produces can be verified.

Job displacement

Unsurprisingly, artificial intelligence will replace and displace jobs, with some marketers being more affected than others.

As with any new technology, there will be a shift into different types of work required to leverage AI to support the marketing organization. Companies are already hiring for “AI specialist” roles to understand and capitalize on what’s possible.

Privacy and ethical concerns

Since AI relies on consuming lots of data and information, how can we protect user privacy? In addition, how can we ensure that artificial intelligence is not biased or discriminatory?

There are major concerns around privacy and ethics that must be addressed before fully adopting AI.

Dig deeper: 4 areas of martech with ethical concerns

Will AI replace marketers?

AI will dramatically change how marketing is done. It will make it easier, faster, cheaper and better. Those benefits come at a price: replacing the need for many specific tools and shifting certain roles.

There is no question that some marketing roles will be made redundant by artificial intelligence, especially on small teams with limited resources.

However, all artificial intelligence requires a creative brain for input and guidance just as much as it needs critical thinking and proper review to maintain the quality and integrity of what it produces.

Every successful marketing team will embrace the use of AI throughout their tech stack and their processes in order to maximize their efficiency, creativity and productivity. In doing so, it will usher in a new generation of marketers who understand how to mold and shape AI to produce better marketing assets at record speed.

The ultimate question

There’s one important question that every marketing leader should be thinking about and asking: Is your marketing team using artificial intelligence?

If you don’t know the answer, you better find out. The benefits of using AI in marketing are massive: getting more done faster and cheaper. However, the risks must be understood and controlled. 

Is your marketing team regurgitating your competitor’s content — or are you creating authentic thought leadership and building a powerful brand?

Artificial intelligence is just another tool. It’s your job to help your team understand how and where to use it to create powerful marketing.

This isn’t the end of an era, but the exciting merger of human creativity and cutting-edge technology will revolutionize how we connect with our customers.

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In-game advertising: A marketer’s guide https://martech.org/in-game-advertising-a-marketers-guide/ Fri, 10 Mar 2023 14:11:16 +0000 https://martech.org/?p=359723 With the right strategy, in-game advertising can be a powerful tool for reaching and engaging with today's gaming audiences.

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Video games aren’t just fun. They can be profitable for savvy advertisers looking to reach one of the most lucrative and elusive groups of consumers.

In-game advertising merges ads with the game environment seamlessly. Imagine seeing billboards while racing through the streets or branded in-game products you can purchase. These ads are more powerful and effective than in-app advertisements — those annoying pop-ups or banner ads you commonly see in mobile app games.

With nearly 3 billion games worldwide, in-game advertising can give brands incredible reach. From virtual billboards to branded experiences, video games have become a marketer’s paradise for reaching the coveted gaming demographic.

This guide covers the basics of in-game advertising, including common ad types, available targeting options, associated costs, challenges and best practices.

Types of in-game advertising

Before exploring how to take advantage of in-game advertisements, let’s review the most common types of game ads.

Static in-game advertising

These ads are directly hardcoded into the game. Since the ads can’t be changed and will exist in the game ad infinitum, rates are expensive and charged on a fixed-fee basis.

Dynamic in-game advertising

Dynamic ads can be replaced quickly and deployed instantly. These ads can appear in different places and formats (display and video ads are the most common). The 2008 billboards from Barack Obama in Need for Speed: Carbon are a great example of this ad format’s simple yet powerful use.

Sponsored game content

Sponsored game content involves integrating a brand or product into the actual game content, making it even more tangible and visible to the player and engaging them with the brand.

Dig deeper: PepsiCo’s strategies for marketing via online games and esports

KFC did this exceptionally well when it partnered with Nintendo to create a virtual island in the popular game Animal Crossing: New Horizons. The island was designed with KFC-themed items and decorations and even allowed players to win a voucher for chicken in real-life.


Rather than integrating the ads into an already existing game, advergames are games specifically designed to promote a brand or product. They provide a fun and engaging way to interact with a brand and can effectively build brand awareness and loyalty.

Chex Quest, made by Chex, was the first video game ever to be included in cereal boxes as a prize. It was a top-to-bottom conversion of the popular game Doom but adjusted it to be family-friendly. The game was a hit among consumers and even won several awards.

Activision Blizzard Media has recently created many Playables — branded stand-alone mobile app games.

Product placement

The classic advertisement method still works. Advertisers can put their products directly into video games to guarantee players see the brand and “use” the products.

I remember playing Mario Kart 8 on the Nintendo Wii and unlocking the Mercedes-Benz cars. This made the branded products more exclusive since they had to be earned.

Targeting options for in-game advertising

The other unique benefit of in-game advertisements are the targeting abilities. It starts with choosing the right game (or games). Advertisers can focus on consumers based on demographics, geolocation, device type or platforms. However, integrating these traditional targeting approaches with behavioral targeting makes in-game advertisements even more effective.

Behavior targeting uses the actions the player has taken (or has not taken) to create an ideal segment of users to reach. For example, an advertiser could target players who have demonstrated a willingness to open their wallets by spending money to buy items in a game — or players who have reached a certain level and are, therefore, more engaged.

Combining these different ways of targeting and deploying them across various games that reach consumers on multiple platforms (gaming consoles, computers and smartphones) makes in-game advertising extremely powerful. With abundant reach and powerful targeting, brands can build awareness, drive engagement and boost sales quickly and effectively.

How to buy in-game advertising

Getting started with in-game advertising will ultimately depend on the types of games you want to appear in and your budget. 

When selecting an approach to buying in-game advertising, consider the specific goals, budget and target audience of the campaign. 

Game publishers

  • Example: Activision Blizzard Media

You can work directly with game publishers to create custom ad campaigns within their games. This approach provides more control over the creative content and targeting and a deeper level of integration with the game environment. 

However, it can be more time-consuming and expensive than other options and may not offer as much scale or reach since it is limited to a single game.

In-game ad networks 

  • Examples: Admix, Unity Ads

Ad networks connect brands with multiple game publishers, providing access to a broader collection of games. They offer greater scale and reach and more efficient pricing and targeting options. 

The downside is that you have less control over the creative content and placement. Some ad networks are not as high-quality and have limited targeting options. 

Programmatic advertising platforms 

  • Examples: Bidstack, Anzu

Programmatic platforms use data and algorithms to automate the buying and placement of in-game ads across multiple publishers and platforms. This approach can offer greater efficiency, scale and advanced targeting options based on user data and behavior. However, programmatic platforms may have less control over the creative content and placement and may require more technical expertise.

The costs of in-game advertising

How expensive are in-game ads? It depends, but it’s only going to get more expensive. In-game advertising pricing can vary based on several factors, including the type of game, ad format, targeting options and the size and scope of the campaign.

CPM pricing is the most common approach, and rates can vary widely based on factors like ad format and targeting. The average CPM for in-game display ads ranges from $10-20, with video ads from $15-30.

These numbers will vary dramatically depending on the audience, game, targeting and ad formats. For example, CPMS for in-game ads targeting Gen Z and Millennials were 30-50% higher than those targeting Gen X and Baby Boomers, according to an Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) study.

You can also expect CPMs to continue to rise with the growing popularity of games and the high demand to reach gamers who are otherwise difficult to reach. Other in-game ads follow a flat-rate pricing model, especially static ads or advergames.

Challenges and best practices

It’s all fun and games until your campaign stops performing well. In-game advertisements come with their own unique set of challenges — and fatigue is a real concern. 

  • Players can quickly become bored or annoyed by seeing the same ads repeatedly. Be sure to monitor frequency and refresh creative as often as possible.
  • Players will also be upset if ads are intrusive, distracting, or disrupt their gameplay in any way. This isn’t commonly an issue, but it’s an important consideration.

As with any advertising, targeting is critical. It’s best to use non-intrusive creative formats to engage users. If possible, rewarding users with in-game currency, items, or exclusive content can increase engagement rates and brand affinity. The aforementioned example of being able to earn Mercedes-Benz cars in Mario Kart is a simple but effective model of this in practice.

What’s in store for in-game advertising?

In-game advertising is a powerful way to reach a highly-engaged, lucrative and fast-growing audience. There is no shortage of different types of games and no reason not to try in-game advertising.

Mobile games and handheld gaming platforms like the Nintendo Switch make it even easier for brands to stay connected and engaged with users even more than ever before.

New technologies like virtual reality and the Metaverse will bring more gaming environments, unique experiences and even more diverse opportunities for advertisers to explore.

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3 steps to navigating the complex customer journey https://martech.org/3-steps-to-navigating-the-complex-customer-journey/ Thu, 16 Feb 2023 15:54:41 +0000 https://martech.org/?p=359078 The key to marketing success and scale is to refine your customer journey down to the essentials — the critical path.

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Why is the customer journey so complex? How can we improve the customer journey to deliver better results?

Marketers understand the concept and importance of the customer journey. You must know how customers find you and do business with you if you want to succeed. 

The more you can improve the customer journey, the better customer experience you can deliver and the more effective your marketing will be.

But there’s one big problem — the customer journey is incredibly complex.

Today we have more channels, creatives, messages and touchpoints than ever. How can we possibly understand, measure and optimize the customer journey when it has outgrown our limitations?

The answer is simpler than you might think, but it’s something that most marketers completely overlook.

The customer journey cornerstone

The Pareto principle (a.k.a., the 80/20 rule) states that 80% of the outcomes come from 20% of the efforts. Whenever I assess a marketing team, I find this principle in full effect.

Most of the revenue and results of your marketing are the product of 20% of your efforts. And the same is true for your customer journey. You may have many different paths and touchpoints, but not all of them are contributing equally.

The key to marketing success and scale is to refine your customer journey down to the essentials — the critical path. Then you can optimize and expand it to maximize your impact.

Too often, marketers become complacent and give every channel and every touchpoint the same resources and priority. In practice, very few are actually contributing to the majority of your marketing performance.

Here are three steps to take control of your customer journey and accelerate your growth:

  • Analyze and understand the 20% of your customer journey that drives 80% of your performance (your critical path).
  • Optimize your critical path to boost results with leverage.
  • Maximize your results by connecting the other paths of the customer journey to your critical path.

Let’s explore each of these steps.

Finding your critical path

There’s always a critical path. The first step is to find it.

The easiest way to find the critical path of your customer journey is to imagine turning off all of your marketing, one by one. Which pieces, when turned off, would cause the biggest impact on your business?

This will vary greatly from one business to the next, but here’s an example.

One of my clients sells dog fences that are seasonal (people don’t install a fence in the winter) and, for the most part, a transactional purchase. People search on Google when they are ready to invest in installing a fence for their dog.

As a result, Google Ads are part of their critical path. If they turned off their Google Ads, the business would come to a screeching halt. 

Conversely, they also do email marketing, but the impact from that is minimal and would be hardly noticed if it was stopped.

However, a single channel isn’t the entirety of their critical path. When people click their Google Ads, they are taken to a landing page and then pushed through an appointment funnel, where they are routed to the right distributor. 

All of these parts — the Google Ads, the landing page and the appointment funnel — make up their critical path.

Are they investing in other marketing efforts and channels? Absolutely. But they recognize that this is the “heartbeat” of their marketing, their critical path.

And as such, it must be finely tuned and maintained to drive revenue and results consistently.

Paying off debt

Before thinking about scaling and growth, we have some cleanup to do. When you let your customer journey run amuck without pruning, it can easily get out of hand. It becomes confusing, complex and convoluted.

Once you know your critical path, you must cut away everything that’s either a bottleneck or not contributing. Cut ruthlessly and without regret.

The goal at this stage is to reduce friction, optimize the critical path and improve performance. To do so:

  • Consider every touch point and interaction and analyze how it can be made more seamless and direct.
  • Ask how the clarity of the message can be improved.
  • Identify anything nonessential that can be removed.

If you’re struggling with this step, I recommend bringing in some real users for a usability test and asking them to complete certain goals, like finding your product online and attempting to purchase based on specific criteria. 

By watching how they behave and what they do, you’ll instantly realize how many assumptions marketers make versus how people actually think and act.

Dig deeper: How to guarantee your marketing wins every time

All roads lead to Rome

Congratulations! At this point, you’ve found your critical path and refined it to the point of peak performance. Many marketers never make it this far, but there’s still more work to be done.

“All roads lead to Rome” is an old proverb that illustrates how, no matter what path you take, you always end up at the same destination. This is exactly how you should think about your customer journey and the critical path. 

Don’t build multiple customer journeys or try to expand the critical path. Instead, connect all other paths to the critical path.

This way, the critical path is now consciously and strategically identified as paramount and of utmost priority. All other efforts will benefit from the optimizations you’ve made to the critical path.

In some cases, this happens naturally. For example, for ecommerce companies, every user may ultimately end up in the checkout experience of your website. 

But your critical path isn’t always your checkout experience. It may be the most profitable path before that step.

Splitting up the customer journey into little pieces, or micro-journeys, is a good way to map them out and visualize how each of them connects and leads to the critical path.

Dig deeper: 3 ways to deliver better marketing experiences

Fixing your customer journey is critical

The customer journey has become overly complicated. Marketers love talking about the customer journey in abstract terms, but few invest the time and effort to understand it, let alone improve it.

If you don’t know your critical path, it’s paramount that you find it. Understand what it is and spend time refining and improving it. That alone will deliver a better customer experience and boost your performance.

After dissecting your customer journey, reconfigure it and reconnect the pieces to form a strategic, thoughtful and high-performing journey that delights your customers and your stakeholders.

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10 steps to target and connect with potential customers effectively https://martech.org/10-steps-target-connect-potential-customers-effectively/ Tue, 24 Jan 2023 14:13:00 +0000 https://martech.org/?p=147710 Are you rolling out a new marketing plan or looking to give your current one a face-lift? Here are 10 proven tactics to get new customers (that cost almost nothing).

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Every business needs new customers. Fortunately, some proven tactics work to consistently attract and convert customers like clockwork. 

You can use one or all of these tactics to fill your pipeline and grow your business no matter the time of year or the state of the economy. And the best part is, they don’t require a massive budget.

Check out these 11 proven tactics you can use to generate more customers for your business.

1. Give to get

One of the oldest tricks in the book is giveaways. They are a great way to get attention, build awareness and generate leads. After all, who doesn’t love the chance to win something valuable?

The best giveaways are “viral giveaways,” where everyone who enters can earn more chances at winning for each other person they get to enter. Even if only 10% of people bring one other person, that’s 10% more leads for zero effort or cost.

Running a giveaway doesn’t have to cost money, either. You can give away your products or services or get other companies to donate prizes. And it doesn’t have to be a single prize. 

You’ll attract more leads based on having more chances to win (e.g., multiple tiers of prizes or multiple winners) and based on the value of the prizes. Just be sure that what you’re giving away is related to your business so that the people who enter are ideal leads.

2. Draft an email

Cold email is an incredibly effective way to generate leads and acquire customers. A quick scan of your inbox and you might disagree. We all get spammed with poorly written blast messages that are completely self-serving. However, it’s an extremely powerful way to talk directly with your ideal customers.

You’ll need a quality list, relevant details about the person you’re emailing and a clear and compelling message. Plus, loads of patience, persistence and the ability to handle rejection.

The most important thing to remember about cold email is that it’s not a volume game. Blasting 1,000 people a day isn’t going to get you customers. Reaching out to the right people with a thoughtful, custom-tailored message is guaranteed to be successful.

Dig deeper: 3 reasons I deleted your cold outreach email

3. Create compelling content

Content marketing is one of the most powerful ways to a steady flow of leads and customers. In today’s world, video platforms like TikTok, Instagram and YouTube are some of the best places to create content.

Your content doesn’t always have to be of high production value — it just needs to be educational and entertaining. As with most marketing, you need to experiment with different types and pieces of content to find what your audience will respond to best. However, your efforts will be rewarded because the right content can spread quickly, has a fairly long shelf life and costs nothing to maintain.

4. Build a tool

You’ve probably seen the headline analyzer from CoSchedule. It’s a free tool where you can paste in any headline and it will give you a score out of 100 with specific recommendations on how to improve it. It’s simple, useful and free. (And, might I add, addictive!)

Most importantly, it’s generated a massive amount of awareness, leads and customers for CoSchedule. After all, I’m writing about it here, even.

The point is, creating a free resource is a smart way to give value first, generate awareness and capture the interest of your potential customers. And just like the headline analyzer, your tool or resource doesn’t have to be complicated.

Years ago, I created a tool to calculate how long it would take to read all of the books on your reading list (and how old you would be when you finished). It was extremely simple, but fun to play with. As a result, it got lots of attention and was eventually acquired by one of the major publishers.

Take some time to think about a simple tool you could build — it might be your next goldmine.

5. Try before you buy

Free is one of the most powerful words in marketing. People love getting free stuff. Getting people to raise their hands is much easier when you give them something free.

This can often take the shape of a free trial or assessment. Either option attracts potential customers and gives them a risk-free way of experiencing your business.

As with all marketing, you should experiment with what you offer people for free and how you communicate the value to the potential customer. Just saying something is free isn’t enough to get them interested.

Often adding scarcity (the next 5 people who reply get this) or urgency (available until supplies last) can help get people off the fence and in the door.

Dig deeper: Why and how to use loss aversion in email marketing (plus 4 examples)

6. Build connections and community

There are a ton of highly-engaged communities that are filled with your perfect future customers. Many of them are completely free, with a handful having a nominal entry fee. Either way, it’s critical that you find them, join and make yourself known.

Now, wait. Don’t just jump in and start promoting yourself or your business. That’s a surefire way to get kicked out. Instead, take time to get to know people, add value, answer questions and build equity in the community.

Does it take time? Yes. Is it worth it? Absolutely.

As a member of several communities where my ideal clients hang out, I’ve made wonderful connections, built a reputation and generated new business. The key is to focus on connecting with others, being helpful and providing value.

7. Commit to social media

The thought that you can attract customers and close business on social media is mind-blowing. Years ago, that seemed unfathomable to me but it’s entirely possible for everyone and especially for B2B companies. Social media marketing is one of the most important channels in today’s marketing landscape.

Don’t be on every social media platform out there. Pick one or two and commit. Stay focused, learn the ins and outs and be consistent. The more value you bring, the more benefit you’ll accrue.

If you aren’t getting customers from social media then you need to change your approach and make it a priority.

8. Borrow influence

Wouldn’t it be nice to have someone else do your marketing for you? What if they could also do it better than you can?

Influencers are absolutely amazing. They have loyal audiences they know how to connect with and are hungry to make money from their influence. They’re also really easy to find and have a conversation with.

If you haven’t already tried working with influencers, be sure to give it a chance. Identify a few smaller influencers in your space and jump on a Zoom call with them to brainstorm win-win opportunities to work together. Oftentimes, it can be as simple as giving them free products to promote or offering nominal compensation.

Be sure to use tracking links (UTM links) or discount codes with any campaign you run with influencers. You’ll want to be able to measure the impact and results because not all influencers are created equal.

9. Go on tour

In 2022, I was a guest on 36 different marketing podcasts. It was an exhilarating and rewarding experience that also earned me new clients. And it was one of the few marketing activities that barely felt like work.

There are many ways to go on tour: podcasts, guest blogging, guest webinars and many others. The idea is simple — find out where your ideal customers watch or listen and then show up there.

Once you identify the places you want to appear, simply reach out via email or social media and pitch them why they should have you as their guest. If they’re interested and available, you’re set.

Every appearance you make gives you more experience and credibility to continue reaching out to bigger outlets that have larger audiences. You’ll get customers and you’ll have fun in the process.

10. Ask your customers

The simplest, most effective way to get new customers is to ask your customers to talk about you. Yes, I’m talking about referrals.

Why does almost nobody have a process for generating referrals? I don’t care if you’re B2C, B2B, new in business or a Fortune 500 company — you must have a consistent process for generating referral business!

It costs you almost nothing, is extremely predictable and generates the highest quality customers — people like your existing customers.

Do you have a process for asking for referrals? If not, build it today!

You can also ask past customers to return and do business with you again. Tell them what’s new, what you’ve changed or improved and offer them an incentive to come back and give you another shot.

You won’t get more customers unless you ask, so start asking.

Your next customers are waiting

There is no shortage of customers waiting to hear from you. It’s up to you to decide which of these 11 tactics to pursue. 

Here’s my recommendation: Pick just one tactic and focus on it for a few months before moving on to another. It’s easy to get carried away by trying to do multiple things at the same time. Instead, build a campaign or a sprint around one specific tactic. Review the results and decide to continue, adjust or try something new.

There are so many ways to acquire new customers, but none will work unless you create a plan and take action. With focused and consistent execution, you will have all the customers you could ever wish for.

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From startups to Fortune 500s: This marketing strategy is unbeatable https://martech.org/from-startups-to-fortune-500s-this-marketing-strategy-is-unbeatable/ Wed, 07 Dec 2022 19:41:45 +0000 https://martech.org/?p=356785 You need a new marketing strategy and "test-driven marketing" is the prime candidate.

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When was the last time you revisited your marketing strategy? Or do you even have one?

No pre-pandemic marketing strategy is viable in today’s environment. If you haven’t reconsidered your strategy or if you aren’t getting the results that you want and need, it’s time for a change. The modern customer has adapted, and your strategy must follow suit.

Surprisingly, many marketing organizations don’t have a strategy — just a collection of disconnected tactics. It’s no surprise that marketers are struggling to get results and meet their goals.

Continued economic changes add additional pressure and urgency for marketing organizations to throw out their old strategy and adopt a new, more effective strategy to survive and grow.

What makes a good marketing strategy?

A marketing strategy is a framework that provides clear direction on how you will achieve your objectives. It’s not one or more tactics, and not having a strategy is unacceptable.

Here are 4 of the key attributes of an ideal marketing strategy:

Reduce waste

Waste is the biggest threat to marketing success, and minimizing it is critical for success.

With an effective strategy, you should be able to minimize your investment. That means spending less time, money, and effort to achieve your objectives.

Maximize revenue

Peter Drucker famously said that the goal of marketing is to create a customer. In other words, marketing must generate revenue. 

The right marketing strategy will enable you to not only generate revenue but to maximize it. Every dollar you invest in your marketing must deliver a multiple.

Accelerate results

Most marketing doesn’t get results, but it should. More importantly, the right marketing strategy should enable you to get results as quickly as possible. 

Marketers can’t afford to wait around to see if a campaign works or not. You need results fast.

Improve confidence

Insights are the rocket fuel of successful marketing. When you know what works (and what doesn’t), you can have more confidence in the success of your marketing.

An effective marketing strategy must provide a continuous flow of valuable insights to inform your current and future initiatives.

These may seem unattainable, but there is, in fact, a modern marketing strategy that makes achieving these not only feasible but virtually guaranteed.

The modern marketing strategy

Marketing is unpredictable, uncertain, and ever-changing. That’s just the nature of the beast.

To capitalize on this, modern marketers are adopting test-driven marketing as their strategy.

As a result, no one knows what will work. That’s why testing and experimentation are crucial, especially given how much the world, and consumer behavior, has changed recently.

Test-driven marketing is a framework that enables marketing organizations to focus on the most impactful parts of their marketing by using a series of experiments to validate assumptions, gain valuable insights, and accelerate results.

Combining a strategic focus on the areas of highest return with the power of experimentation allows marketing organizations to rapidly get results, learn what works, and avoid wasting time and budget.

Most importantly, because experimentation is central to the strategy, it eliminates debate about the best way to achieve your objectives. With this test and learn approach, anything has potential until proven otherwise. The best and most successful ideas win based on data and real-world performance.

All of this makes test-driven marketing the most effective modern marketing strategy. It fulfills each of the four aforementioned key attributes, it’s simple to adopt, and extremely powerful.

My clients who have adopted test-driven marketing have increased revenue by millions of dollars in the last 12 months, acquired tons of invaluable insights, and have gained tremendous momentum on their objectives.

If you need a new marketing strategy (spoiler alert: you do) then test-driven marketing is the obvious choice to accelerate your results and achieve your objectives.

Implementing test-driven marketing

Any effective strategy must be simple, easy to understand, and sustainable. Test-driven marketing passes the litmus test with flying colors.

Here are the five steps for implementing test-driven marketing:

Step 1: Assess

Every strategy is dependent on the arena in which it is executed. That means you must evaluate your industry, competitors, and your capabilities. I’m not talking about a SWOT analysis, which is a frivolous exercise. Instead, you need to map out the areas of the market that have opportunities where you can gain an advantage and maintain a stronghold.

Step 2: Focus

The biggest challenge of marketing organizations is a lack of focus. Test-driven marketing isn’t just about running lots of experiments; it’s about focusing your efforts where they count.

Work with your team to identify the three or four critical areas of focus — the things that, if you could improve, would have a monumental impact on the business. These are your strategic pillars, and you must focus all efforts and investments in these areas.

Having a narrow focus can be intimidating, but don’t be afraid to commit. You can reevaluate your strategic pillars in six months.

Step 3: Experiment

Now that you have a few strategic pillars, you can operationalize experimentation throughout the marketing organization with a focus on your most impactful areas.

Doing this well requires two things: implementing an optimization and experimentation program and ensuring a narrow focus on the strategic pillars.

Fortunately, neither are difficult, but they can be challenging for marketing teams that aren’t accustomed to either.

Step 4: Insights

As you begin to run lots of experiments, you’ll gain a bunch of valuable insights. Remember, the goal of experiments is not to get a better result — that’s a byproduct. The real value in experimentation is the insights that accrue as a result. When you can learn what works and what doesn’t, your marketing becomes exponentially more effective both now and in the future.

The best way to capture these insights is to build a “book of knowledge” or an insights library; a central repository of the key observations and takeaways from your experiments. 

What has worked well? Why?

What hasn’t worked? Why not?

What internal best practices should we adopt, backed by the data and evidence?

Step 5: Application

If you only follow the previous steps, you’ll have tremendous success with your marketing. But why stop there?

By applying the insights you’ve gained to your existing marketing efforts, you can instantly raise the total level of your performance.

Too often, marketing teams run out of capacity and can’t fully capitalize on the benefits of the insights they’ve acquired. Rolling out your insights throughout the organization and across your existing efforts is a crucial step that makes test-driven marketing extremely powerful.

As you become more familiar with test-driven marketing, you can also bring in other departments, including sales, customer support, and customer research, for example. This additional perspective will help you amplify your experiments, gather more insights, and help the organization adopt a test-driven approach.

Rethink your strategy

Modern marketing organizations have realized that the world — and consumers — have changed. As a result, your strategy must change with it. Failing to do so would be a catastrophic mistake and one that many organizations are making without even realizing it.

2023 is your chance to approach marketing from a new perspective. If you want better results, faster, and with less waste, then perhaps it’s time to throw out your existing marketing strategy, and embrace test-driven marketing.

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How to guarantee your marketing wins every time https://martech.org/how-to-guarantee-your-marketing-wins-every-time/ Fri, 04 Nov 2022 13:23:27 +0000 https://martech.org/?p=355689 Ensure every campaign you launch has the highest chance of success by making one simple shift in how you approach your marketing.

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How incredible would it be if every marketing activity you pursued and invested in, delivered exactly the results you hoped for and more?

Nothing in marketing is certain — and it constantly changes — which can make it hard to project and predict the outcomes of our efforts.

Fortunately, there’s a simple process you can use to dramatically increase the odds that your marketing is successful.

Here’s how to guarantee your marketing wins every time.

Are you throwing away your marketing budget?

Marketing is often seen as a gamble: “Will this work? Who knows! Let’s try it and find out.”

Some marketers look to historical performance or their competition as validation, claiming, “This has always worked for us in the past.” Or “If the competition is doing this, it must work!”

As a result, marketing organizations waste millions of dollars a year on crazy, stupid and genius ideas alike. In fact, most marketing efforts fail to deliver on expectations, results and revenue.

When any marketing initiative falls short, there are three big areas of waste.


Marketing isn’t cheap. Many campaigns require significant investments. Failing to achieve a positive ROI doesn’t only negatively impact the balance sheet — it makes it harder to negotiate for more budget in the future.

Dig deeper: The budget bottleneck: How to get more from your marketing budget


Capacity is one of the biggest challenges for marketing teams and having them spend effort on marketing that doesn’t deliver results is a huge opportunity cost.


The time invested in executing marketing is a sunk cost. You can’t get it back and it’s often the most expensive investment.

Marketing doesn’t have to be a guessing game. You can ensure that every campaign you launch and every dollar you spend has the highest chance of success by making one simple shift in how you approach your marketing.

Get MarTech! Daily. Free. In your inbox.

How to guarantee your marketing wins every time

Measure twice, cut once

You’ve heard the age-old adage before: measure twice, cut once.

Many marketing teams forget this — or ignore it — because they are overwhelmed and rushed to finalize the copy, finish the assets and launch the campaign.

Before launching a campaign (or any other marketing initiative), there is one crucial step that most marketing teams skip, ignore or aren’t even aware of: validation.

Validation is the most valuable and most under-utilized process across all of the global marketing teams I’ve worked with. The most successful marketing teams validate their marketing before investing significant amounts of time, effort and budget.

Validation is a concept that’s commonplace in the startup world where, before launching a new business, you gather feedback from prospective customers to gauge the level of interest and expected response.

And you can do the same thing with your marketing. And you should, because:

  • It’s inexpensive, fast and easy to do.
  • It will save you tons of time, money and effort.
  • The smartest companies in the world do it all the time.

Here are some practical examples of how you can validate your marketing.

The crazy (and true) story about TripAdvisor

I love traveling, so naturally, I’m a huge fan of TripAdvisor — one of the largest travel sites in the world. And their approach to validation is so simple, completely insane and absolutely genius.

Here’s how it works.

If TripAdvisor wants to add a new section or feature to their website, they don’t jump in and start building it. Instead, they add a link on the website for the new page… but the link goes nowhere.

In fact, if you click the link, it will show an error in your browser.

Then they wait and see how many people click the link.

If a lot of people click it? Great! People seem interested, so let’s build that part of the website.

If only a few people clicked it? I guess it wasn’t that great of an idea and people don’t seem to care, so let’s not build that part of the website.

You’re probably thinking the same thing I did when I first heard this…

Why would you add a broken link to your site that shows an error when people click it?!

TripAdvisor tested this and found out that when a person sees that error page, they assume it was a problem on their end — their internet or their computer — not a problem with the TripAdvisor website. So there’s no negative impact to TripAdvisor, yet they still gain valuable insight into what people are interested in.

Pure genius.

TripAdvisor CEO Stephen Kaufer says it “solves umpteen meetings worth of powerful debate and logical arguments” about what to build and what not to build.

If TripAdvisor can do it, so can you. Here are the simple steps you can use to validate your marketing.

3 steps to validate your marketing

The point of validation is to get feedback quickly, iterate and gain confidence in the expected outcome and results. There are only three steps and they’re all easy to do and don’t require much time or money.

Here are the steps to validate your marketing:

Step 1: Ask

If you want feedback, you have to ask someone. It’s easiest to ask your ideal customers what they think, but people are people, so don’t worry if you can’t access your ideal customers. Talk to strangers, corner your colleagues or ask your spouse.

You can email your list, post on social media, run a survey or even spend some money on paid advertising to get feedback. It doesn’t matter who or how you ask; what matters is that you create a series of questions and that you ask people them.

What you ask will depend on what you’re validating. The best way to come up with powerful questions is to imagine the possible responses you might get and how you would use them to inform your marketing.

Step 2: Measure

Once you’ve found some people and asked them your questions, it’s time to review the responses.

  • Did people respond positively or negatively?
  • What did they say?
  • What were the common patterns that emerged?
  • What were the high and low points made?
  • Were there any red flags that need to be addressed?

It’s usually best to analyze the responses and then have a group discussion to see what insights you can mine from them.

Dig deeper: How marketers can measure success

Step 3: Decide

Now that you have some observations and insights, it’s time to decide what to do about them. How should you adjust your approach? What should be added, changed or removed?

It’s rare that you need to scrap an entire campaign, but I’ve seen it happen before. Often times this step is more about refinement and small changes that will push the creative, copy or campaign in the right direction.

Making your marketing foolproof

Validation is the key to guaranteeing the success of your marketing. By involving your audience before investing significant time, effort and budget into a campaign, you can avoid costly mistakes, save valuable resources and increase your chances of success.

Before you launch your next big campaign, test the waters with your audience. You’ll be surprised by what you learn and the result will be higher quality and more effective.

The marketing process must begin with validation so that you are constantly getting feedback, learning what works and adjusting accordingly.

The more you test, the more you learn. And the more validation you get, the more revenue and results your marketing will produce.

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8 easy ways to improve your marketing capabilities https://martech.org/8-easy-ways-to-improve-your-marketing-capabilities/ Tue, 11 Oct 2022 13:55:06 +0000 https://martech.org/?p=354553 Want better performance and results from your marketing? Then give your people the support and resources they need to excel. Here's how.

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The CEO and CMO are talking about investing in the marketing team to develop their skills.

The CEO asks, “What if we invest in our people, and they leave?”

The CMO replies, “What if we don’t and they stay?”

Legend has it that this conversation is real and may have even happened at your company.

Marketing is about people. That means the people you serve — your customers — and the people who do the marketing — your team. The problem is that marketers are often too focused on the former and not enough on the latter. 

Your people are the most valuable asset in any marketing team. If you want better performance and results from your marketing, then you must give your people the support and resources they need to excel.

Here are eight simple, low-cost ways to improve your marketing capabilities with minimal effort.

1. The 20% rule

Google became famous for its “20% rule,” which stated that employees could spend 20% of their time on a personal project that they felt would benefit the company the most. And all employees must report their progress and present their projects.

Giving up 20% of employee time sounds like a massive waste, but it turns out it’s quite the opposite. Gmail and AdSense, two of the most well-known and profitable products from Google, are the results of employees’ 20% projects.

Your people have great ideas — they just need the time and permission to make them a reality.

Are you giving your people space to innovate? Or are you suffocating their innovation?

2. Pairing up

Programmers have many interesting tricks to build highly sophisticated software consisting of millions of lines of code and hundreds of people working on the same thing.

One of the most brilliant tactics is a practice called “pair programming.” Just like the 20% rule from Google, pair programming seems like a waste of resources at first glance. Here’s how it works.

Instead of one programmer working on one task, two programmers pair up (hence the name) and work on one task together — except that they both sit at the same computer. One monitor, one keyboard, one mouse and two programmers.

That means that only one programmer is “driving” or operating the computer at a time — they take turns. One person will write some code while the other one watches, learns, asks questions and points out potential problems to avoid. Then they switch roles and keep going.

Having two people work together on the same task means that it gets done faster and more accurately, and now both people understand exactly what happened, how it was done and what decisions were made.

Pair programming is extremely collaborative and magnificently powerful. I recommend all of my clients have at least a half day where their marketing team pairs up to tackle a day’s tasks. The team will learn a lot, get stuff done and get to know and understand each other better.

3. Vault access

One of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to improve the skills of your marketing team is to provide access to a vault of training materials they can access as they wish. Several great platforms, like LinkedIn Learning, can provide lots of value to help your team improve their skills.

These platforms often excel in breadth but lack depth. However, they are a great starting point for marketing teams to expand their knowledge and skills continually.

Dig deeper: Why UX is critical to digital marketing

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4. Selective stipend

You can give your team a training stipend to combat the depth issue of providing access to a vault of training materials. The team can spend a set amount of money on specific self-development resources like courses, books, events and more.

Having a stipend is an easy way to manage your investment in the team’s skills while also providing flexibility. However, it requires managing the budget with an approval process to ensure balance and equal access to different resources among the team.

5. Have lunch together

When was the last time your marketing team had lunch together? 

Everyone loves a free lunch, and it’s a great way to give your team time to connect and hang out. Plus, you can host a lunch-and-learn where you have someone from the team teach or share their experience.

This is another great example of cross-pollination of skills, just like in pair programming. 

It’s not feasible to do a lunch a learn every week, but hosting one once a month or once a quarter is a productive and realistic frequency.

Dig deeper: 20 ways to make your marketing team more productive

6. Play a game

Games can bring people together and think outside the box. Running a tabletop exercise is a fun way to challenge your team in a safe environment and come up with brilliant ideas and solutions.

A tabletop exercise is a “what if” brainstorming session. You set up a hypothetical scenario and then have the team react as if it actually happened. What would we do? How would we deal with it? How could we make the most of it?

Here’s an example.

Imagine getting most of your website traffic, leads and sales from Google Ads. Now pretend that Google bans your industry from running Google Ads. Poof! All of your traffic, leads and sales are gone overnight.

How would your team respond? What tactics should they pursue instead? How would they reallocate the money that was being spent on Google Ads?

It may seem silly and fictitious, but it stretches the team to challenge their assumptions and explore new and alternative ways of reaching their goals.

And just think what would have happened if companies had run a tabletop exercise to imagine if in-person events disappeared due to a global pandemic — they would’ve been much better prepared.

7. Quarterly workshops

Quarterly workshops are similar to vault access to training materials and a self-development stipend with one major difference. Quarterly workshops are ideally suited to giving a larger group of your team in-depth, custom training on a certain topic or tactic. 

For example, you could have a quarterly workshop for your digital marketing team to learn about conversion rate optimization.

This is a cost-effective way to provide collaborative and interactive training for a specific group within your team to improve together. This is especially helpful if you recognize a certain area, tactic, or skill set that the group needs to improve in.

The benefits are immediate and long-lasting. Many of the quarterly workshops I’ve hosted for my clients result in quick wins and conversations in the halls and meetings that demonstrate the lasting impact and transformation of the training experience.

8. Coaching key individuals

When it comes to individual performance improvement, there is no more powerful approach than coaching. You already know who your key team members are — the people who are pivotal to the organization’s success. They must be supported with coaching to some degree if you want the best results. Coaching can turn even great marketers into world-class experts.

The other benefit of coaching is that it improves retention. When people see you’re willing to invest in them, especially with one-on-one coaching, they are more likely to stay engaged and are motivated to push themselves to perform at a higher level.

Dig deeper: Marketers: Where will you be a year from now?

Improving your marketing starts with people

If you want to improve your marketing performance, it starts with your people.

All of these are great recommendations to improve your marketing capabilities. Choose one to start with and make it happen. Identify the budget, people, and time required. Put it on the calendar and communicate it to the team.

Once you’ve tried one, feel free to try the others. Not all of these will be a good fit for every team, but several are guaranteed to create a positive and lasting improvement in your marketing team’s skills, collaboration, and morale.

Improving your marketing capabilities doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive, it just requires commitment.

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The budget bottleneck: How to get more from your marketing budget https://martech.org/the-budget-bottleneck-how-to-get-more-from-your-marketing-budget/ Mon, 12 Sep 2022 14:05:13 +0000 https://martech.org/?p=354053 No matter how big or small your budget is, what matters is how you spend it. Learn how to get higher returns from your marketing investment.

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Can you imagine having an unlimited marketing budget? It would be impossible to fail, and you could finally do everything you and your team have ever dreamed about.

Sadly, that’s not likely to happen. Most marketing leaders fight tooth and nail to scrape together every extra dollar available for their marketing budgets.

Sound familiar? No matter how big or small your budget is, what matters is how you spend it. So how can you earn the highest ROI and maximum impact with every dollar you invest in marketing?

Don’t miss Tim Parkin and Lisa Peyton discussing the metaverse at MarTech: Registration is free

More money, more problems

There are a few common problems that every marketing leader faces when it comes to managing their budget. Even if your budget isn’t massive, you’ve probably encountered one or more of these challenges. Here are some of the common problems with your marketing budget.

You’re wasting most of it

John Wanamaker famously said, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” 

I think that’s an understatement. Most of your marketing dollars are being wasted, whether you realize it or not. In marketing, some degree of waste is inevitable. After all, no one knows what will work, and the majority of marketing is trying new things to see what will. 

The problem is that we often don’t spend enough effort trying to identify, measure, and reduce the amount of money we throw away every single day. The larger your budget, the more various activities you’re investing in. This introduces complexity, making it harder to measure the effectiveness of your spend and more challenging to identify where waste is happening.

Before requesting more budget, ask yourself, “How can we stop wasting what we already have?” The first step is to realize that waste is happening and then go looking for it.

Dig deeper: Marketing budgets climb in 2022

Your budget is never right

Putting together a marketing budget is like trying to guess how many jelly beans are in a jar — your guess is as good as any, and you’re most definitely completely wrong.

My advice? Don’t stress about it. Acknowledge that how you allocate the money will change. Be prepared to make real-time decisions about where to cut and where to double down.

The key to maximizing your budget is spending it a bit at a time and making real-time judgments about where it will have the biggest impact. A marketing budget becomes obsolete the minute it gets approved.

This is a challenge for most marketing leaders because they lack visibility into the effectiveness of their marketing investments. Marketing attribution makes it even more complicated to gain clarity into what’s working.

Understanding the return from any tactic, channel, or investment is key to getting the most bang for your buck — and you must be able to do so with speed and accuracy.

Your assumptions are wrong

It’s shocking how often marketing organizations stick to the same approach over long periods. Marketing is constantly changing every single day. What worked yesterday won’t work tomorrow.

You should constantly be reevaluating your approach, your tactics, and where you invest your budget. Just because you’ve always done things one way doesn’t mean you should continue down that path.

There’s a difference between squeezing every last drop out of the orange and finding a bigger, juicier orange. Work smarter, not harder, and stop assuming that the traditional or historical approach is the most effective one.

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The path to higher ROI

Getting a higher return on investment from your budget is a lot less complicated than you might think. Here are a few considerations that will help you make the most of your budget, regardless of size.

1. Great marketing isn’t expensive

It’s easy to assume that powerful, effective marketing costs money. On the contrary, great marketing is rarely expensive.

When my mom emailed Chewy to return dog food because her dog had passed away, they told her to donate it to a local shelter and gave her a full refund. A few days later, she received flowers at her door with a personal note from Chewy about her dog.

Not only did she (and I) become lifelong advocates for Chewy, I’ve told hundreds of people the story. The kind gesture didn’t cost Chewy much, but easily earned them a hundred-fold on their investment. So it’s not surprising that they keep doing this, and whenever I share the story, I get comments from people who have had a similar experience.

Marketing is about making an impact. And that doesn’t always require spending lots of money. Having an executive appear on a podcast as a guest or having your team post regularly on LinkedIn are other smart, effective marketing tactics that don’t cost anything.

2. Cut your budget

Here’s a question to ask your team: “What if your budget was cut in half? What would you do differently?” The answers to that question can be quite revealing, and they can generate some innovative approaches to maximizing results within limited constraints.

Too often, we get comfortable with the budget available to us. That’s where waste can creep in. It’s healthy (and helpful) to reevaluate what’s possible with limited resources to uncover new and better approaches.

3. Measure twice, cut once

Wouldn’t it be great if you were 100% confident that every dollar you spent on marketing would generate a positive return on investment? There’s a simple way to significantly increase the confidence of every dollar you invest: validation.

When you go to the pool, you don’t jump into the deep end right away. Instead, you start by slowly wading in to check the temperature of the water. Why not take the same approach with your budget? Don’t invest large chunks of your budget on unproven platforms, channels, or tactics. Instead, run a pilot or do a test to see how effective it is and to find out what you may have overlooked.

There’s an old expression to “measure twice, cut once” and it’s extremely important to prevent mistakes that can’t be undone. The same applies to marketing. Before you make irreversible decisions with your resources, validate your approach so that you have the confidence necessary to go deeper into the pool.

Dig deeper: Getting back to basics: Marketing ROI

4. Squeeze more juice from your marketing

Optimizing your marketing is one of the fastest and most effective ways to maximize your budget. Finding ways to do the same marketing activities better will generate a higher return on your investment.

Most marketing teams don’t have an optimization program — a formal process of continually improving their efforts to generate better results with the same or fewer resources.

Investing in building an optimization program is a guaranteed way to improve the ROI of your marketing in the short term, and it will profoundly impact your budget’s effectiveness in the long term.

You can’t budget for success

Fortunately, success in marketing isn’t correlated with the size of your budget. There’s no question that having more money to spend on marketing gives you more options. However, what matters most is how you spend your budget to have the biggest impact in the shortest amount of time.

Because marketing is inundated with requests and demands and changes happen daily, it can be easy to overlook the simple yet effective ways to get more performance from our marketing budgets.

You don’t need more money to get better results. You just need to take a renewed look at how and where you’re investing your market budget.

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The only two things that matter in marketing https://martech.org/the-only-two-things-that-matter-in-marketing/ Wed, 17 Aug 2022 15:37:45 +0000 https://martech.org/?p=353843 If you want more revenue and results from marketing, you need to develop experimentation and optimization processes. Here's why.

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Is there a shortcut to generating revenue and results in marketing?

Marketing is complex and complicated. Many technologies, tools, and tactics promise to be an “easy button” to success. 

No matter what the latest trend is, experience proves that none of them can generate endless leads, consistently boost conversion rates, or predictably increase revenue.

But what if there was a “shortcut” — a straightforward, repeatable way to generate predictable results in marketing — that we have overlooked?

After advising and coaching dozens of marketing teams of billion-dollar brands, I believe such a shortcut exists.

If you want more revenue and results from your marketing, here’s the fastest way to success.

The two drivers of revenue and results

Marketing is a complex machine with many moving pieces and parts. This brings many challenges and a misunderstanding of what drives revenue and results.

Most people think of marketing simply as a creative endeavor. After all, the visual and written components that are the cornerstone of all marketing collateral are creative work.

However, marketing is more of a process than it is a creative effort. 

Does marketing require creativity? Absolutely.

But without the proper process, it becomes almost impossible to generate predictable results. 

Process creates predictability — and that’s especially true in marketing

To create predictability and maximize marketing revenue and results, you need two processes: experimentation and optimization.

  • Experimentation helps you find out what works (and, most importantly, what doesn’t).
  • Optimization lets you get the most out of your marketing (once you know what works).

These two processes go hand-in-hand and are fundamental to marketing success. Lacking one or both will cause your efforts to be stagnant and subpar. 

Unfortunately, most teams have no structure or systematic approach for either one.

Dig deeper: Driving marketing at scale: People, processes, platforms and programs


Experimentation is about testing things to find out what works. It’s a powerful tool every marketer should leverage.

In marketing, no one really knows what will work. Not you and me — nor your team, vendors, agencies, partners, and influencers.

Even if you have an idea, it might not last long because the one constant thing in our industry is change.

Dramatic shifts in technology, competitive landscape, customer behavior, and even the culture happen every day – all of which are constantly upsetting the status quo. This volatility makes our work so exciting, yet also highly uncertain. 

When you don’t have insights, you’re throwing darts with a blindfold on and hoping to hit anything. With insights, you’re standing inches from the dart board and can effortlessly hit the bullseye every time. 

The best way to get insights? Experimentation.

With experimentation or testing, you apply the scientific method to uncover answers to specific questions. It can lead to get better results such as increased conversion rates, reduced cost, higher ROI, and more revenue.

That said, it’s important to realize that improved results are a byproduct of testing, not the main objectiv.

What’s essential is that it allows you to generate insights to improve all facets of your marketing through optimization.

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Optimization is the process of making continual, incremental improvements to deliver a better result with the same or fewer resources. 

Want more revenue and results from your existing budget? Focus on optimization.

Just like with experimentation, you’d be crazy not to optimize your marketing. And yet, countless teams are too preoccupied with producing more content and launching more campaigns to be bothered with optimizing what they’re doing.

The benefits of optimization are apparent (who doesn’t want more from less), but it’s not as easy to do as it may sound. There are many moving pieces, and it requires building an optimization program to coordinate the efforts and the team to succeed.

First, optimization requires insights. You have to know there’s an opportunity to improve. Otherwise, you’re wasting your time. 

Benchmarks are the starting point of most teams but realize that almost everything your team is doing can be improved. 

Focus your optimization efforts on the areas that:

  • Will have the highest impact (e.g., where you spend the most money).
  • Are attainable (e.g., your team can actually execute).

Other times, knowing what to optimize isn’t quite as clear, like when a new landing page isn’t driving as many conversions as other, similar landing pages. What optimization should you make then?

This is why optimization and experimentation are inextricably linked. Use experimentation to develop and test your ideas to find what works and what doesn’t, then apply optimization to make the improvements across all of your marketing initiatives.

Once you know there’s an opportunity to improve, you have to make the changes.

Sometimes this is easy and simple, like turning off the underperforming ads. That’s fairly obvious, yet marketing teams routinely overlook such simple optimizations. 

Additionally, consider applying optimizations globally. If you developed new messaging for your email marketing that produced an increased response, don’t stop there. Apply that messaging to your social content, landing pages, and paid ads. 

Finding opportunities to leverage optimizations across your marketing is key to maximizing your results and the impact of your efforts.

Optimization is more involved than experimentation because it engages most of your marketing team. It requires coordination, collaboration, and communication to ensure that the necessary changes are made timely and their impact is measured correctly.

If you’re not optimizing your marketing, you’re wasting your budget and missing out on opportunities. Work smarter, not harder and invest in optimization.


How many experiments are you running every month? How much time and resources do you spend on optimizing your marketing versus creating and launching new efforts?

Both experimentation and optimization are essential. Each requires structure, diligence, and effort to execute consistently and effectively. Most importantly, they must be ongoing if you want to maximize the impact of your marketing efforts.

The most successful marketing teams invest in developing experimentation and optimization processes.

Because the more you experiment and optimize, the more revenue and results your marketing will produce.

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