ThinkSpring Marketing & Communications

Tag Archive: control

B2B marketing tip #145: Lead through connection–not control

B2B Marketing Tip of the WeekA recent article in Forbes magazine caught my attention with this quote:  “Great leaders inspire and then get out of the way.”

Improve your leadership by making genuine emotional connections with your team. Honest conversations, empathy and respect can move even the most difficult project forward smoothly.

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It’s time to replace that kitchen window

Three strategies to boost marketing productivity

While we are enjoying a blissfully mild Minnesota winter, there’s always a certain amount of seasonal weather-proofing. One of my least favorite chores is sealing up the drafty window in our kitchen, a project that involves about 20 feet of rope caulk, sheets of see-through plastic, a stepladder, several awkward angles and just a few four-letter words. I’ve done this every year since we bought our house in 1999.

This December, it suddenly it dawned on me, wedged precariously into the sink and behind the light fixture: we could replace our 60-year old window with something better fitting and more energy efficient.

We could eliminate the tedious workaround and solve the problem once and for all.

But we’ve always done it this way …

It’s no surprise that it took me twelve years to reach my a-ha moment. Going about our day-to-day tasks, we focus on checking off items on the To Do list, not analyzing whether the way we accomplish completion is the most efficient or effective. We fall into the trap of “because we’ve always done it this way” and simply stop seeing the issues—or the possibilities.

Every marketing department has more on the wish list than resources allow. Identifying and reducing your workarounds is one of the best ways to work smarter and improve capacity.

Find your MacGyver opportunities

Start your marketing overhaul by recognizing your MacGuyver opportunities—those operations held together with chewing gum, old gym socks and good karma. Where do systems lack integration? How often are you re-entering data? Which tasks take seven steps when three should do?

Use these three criteria to address your top issues:

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B2B marketing tip #32: Improve the feedback loop

B2B Marketing Tip of the WeekFrustrated with the input you receive when you circulate marketing materials for review? Take control of the approval process by addressing specific requests to the right individuals.

Do you want feedback on accuracy of product features? Votes on which headline to use? Debate on font size and colors? Communicate clear expectations to optimize reviewers’ time and keep marketing in control of key decisions.

Follow the B2B Marketing “Tip of the Week” every Monday for a short, practical recommendation to improve your marketing effectiveness. Looking for suggestions in a specific area? Tweet me your request @ThinkSpringMktg or contact me.

B2B marketing tip #27: Establish your boundaries

B2B Marketing Tip of the WeekCorporate marketing can easily evolve into a 24/7 commitment—if we allow it. Take control. Carve out your strategic “think” time and the all-important non-work time—then stick to it.

Block lunch hours on your calendar—then leave the building. Instruct team members when it is/is not appropriate to contact you after hours, then support decisions they make in your absence.

And, when you do burn the midnight oil, save your emails in your Drafts folder to send during business hours the next day; don’t broadcast your willingness to work overtime.

Follow the B2B Marketing “Tip of the Week” every Monday for a short, practical recommendation to improve your marketing effectiveness. Looking for suggestions in a specific area? Tweet me your request @ThinkSpringMktg or contact me.

Before the A-ha moment? The Oh sh*t moment

Five ways to overcome the fear of failure that often accompanies a big idea

As an entrepreneur, there are many things that wake me in the middle of the night with that sinking feeling of despair in the pit of my stomach: Have I paid my payroll taxes? Did I scope the last project correctly? Will I land the next new client?

Few, however, are as universal as the fear of failure that seems to accompany every new strategic project.

So, it was heartening to hear from my colleague Sarah that I’m not alone in this rollercoaster combination of excitement and dread. Sarah aptly describes this as the “Oh sh*t” moment, as in, “Oh sh*t, I’m not going to make it on this one.”

Big projects = big emotion

We find it most often in the first half of a large engagement, such as helping a client develop a new value proposition, researching a marketing plan, or trying to diagnose the issues that hold back a marketing organization. Between us, we share decades of marketing experience and confidence in our abilities—yet we still struggle with how to push through the gut-level dread that a big project often generates.

Fortunately, the “Oh sh*t” moment eventually gives way to the all-important “A-ha” moment of enlightenment. Yet to get there requires patience, persistence, trust and for me, a good stash of chocolate and caffeine.

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B2B marketing tip #19: It is ours to question why

B2B Marketing Tip of the WeekSwamped by marketing tactics and ad hoc requests? Struggling to create a plan—or stick to it?

Regain control with one simple question: “What is the objective?”

Next time sales or management (or even another marketer) asks for an unplanned activity, turn the conversation from tactics to strategy by identifying the goal of the request. Start with why there’s a perceived need, not what the solution is.

Then, evaluate whether the new tactic is the best way to meet the objective, and whether it’s more of a priority than your planned campaigns. Be prepared to suggest alternatives that may better reach the goal.

Check out the Springboard blog every Monday for the B2B Marketing “Tip of the Week” — a short, practical recommendation to improve your marketing effectiveness. Looking for suggestions in a specific area? Tweet me your request @ThinkSpringMktg or contact me.

No time to plan?

Fast-track stakeholder support with the 30-minute B2B marketing strategy

Strategy matters, but squeezing time for big thinking in between meetings, email and day-to-day project management can be a challenge for even the most dedicated B2B marketer. Fortunately, your plan doesn’t need to be arduous or time-consuming to be effective.

In fact, producing numerous strategy briefs throughout the year, one for each significant initiative, can be more impactful and easier to accomplish than toiling over an all-inclusive annual plan.

Drafting your 30-minute plan

For each initiative, set aside a half-hour window to address these four essentials of marketing strategy. If any one is difficult to complete, review your roadblocks and consider whether the program needs to be reworked or eliminated altogether.

(1) Define your approach. Start by describing what you want to do. Limit yourself to two or three paragraphs and focus on specifics such as recommended media for the campaign, timing and target audience.

(2) Make it relevant. Show leadership you understand the big picture by demonstrating the need for your project. Frame your recommendations against a current issue or trend in the market, in the context of other marketing and sales activities or by illustrating the consequences of inactivity.

(3) Link it to a goal. Always show how your initiative ties back to an organizational objective. The stronger the link, the more likely you are to garner support. Be wary of any programs where it’s difficult to connect to company goals.

(4) Anticipate results. This critical step illustrates to leadership that marketing is a discipline—not a guessing game—and that you are the expert in your field. Close your proposal with the potential benefits of the program. Wherever possible, use industry benchmarks or results of past campaigns to establish a range of possible outcomes.

Forget length—concentrate on the four essentials

Remember, the length of your strategy matters less than simply having a marketing strategy. After all, the point is simply to communicate the need for a specific organizational investment in marketing and gain support from your stakeholders—not draft the next best-selling novel.

Every time you share your ideas and request input upfront, you build trust for the marketing team and reduce surprises during project execution.

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